tv mesmerist
tv mesmerist

mesmerism art television art installation Nikola Tesler occult illusion vaudeville

press to zoom

TV Mesmerist (2012) Still duration 1 minute 13 looped.

Installation for two opposing television screens.

press to zoom

TV Mesmerist (2012) Still duration 1 minute 13 looped.

Installation for two opposing television screens.

An investigation into psychic thought-control, thoughtography and mind control within the popular imagination.



   Some of the earliest pictorial depictions of psychic-rays date from the eighteenth and nineteenth century mesmerist movement.These images often take the same format, with a mesmerist standing, showman-like, palms raised to the face or head of the “patient” or in some instances an observing audience. Small arrows are frequently used to denote the psychic rays entering the head/s of the patient/audience.



  Simultaneously I discovered drawings depicting mind control devices including James Tilly Matthews air loom (c.1797) and Jakob Mohr's sinister ‘wireless-organic-positive-polar’ device (both images are now held in the Prinzhorn collection). What is particularly striking about these drawings is that they combine horrific thought-control properties with technologies and discoveries contemporary to the periods in which they were envisaged.



 

  Matthews device is manned by mesmerist style "pneumatic practitioners" capable of "premagnetizing" potential victims with "volatile magnetic fluid". Aesthetically, the machine shares much in common with the apparatus of large scale production, increasingly common in the early years of the industrial revolution. Mohr's drawings depict ominous hand-held boxes, tell-tale arrows denoting the paths of the psychic rays travelling into the chosen victim. These portable devices seem reminiscent of telegraph or camera technologies; technologies frequently discussed as capable of receiving invisible, psychic-rays via phenomena such as thoughtography  and X-Rays.

 

 

  The idea that technologies, especially optical technologies, might capable of influencing or being influenced by invisible rays lies at the heart of TV-Mesmerist. In this work two televisions act as “ominous machine-like boxes”. The television screens face one-another across the room, and depict identical showman mesmerists. Each mesmerist manipulates a clearly faked plasma ball for a period of time, before passing it through space to their identical counterpoint.