Since the French city of Lille was named European Capital of Culture in 2004, it has determinedly upheld a strong tradition of supporting and promoting the Arts. In 2006 the city played host to an art event which had a lasting impact in the city. Lille3000 continues to present strongly themed art exhibitions across the city, and this year’s theme of Utopia, which ran from May till October, offered another wide-ranging collection of installations exploring the ties linking humankind and the living world.
The Cosmic Serpent exhibition at the Hospice Comtesse Museum offered visitors a multi-sensory journey through a diverse range of artistic movements and practices, to showcase the crucial role of the artist in our perception of the world. Part of the exhibition was DJ Dan Ghenacia’s collective Alpha Wave Experience, which was enhanced by a Pioneer PRO AUDIO immersive sound system.
Ghenacia, the undisputed King of the Paris underground scene, was invited by Cosmic Serpent curator Fabrice Bousteaux from Beaux Arts Magazine to participate, following his previous success with sensory installations.
Neuroscience identifies alpha waves as falling in the middle of the brain wave spectrum (between 8 and 12 Hz) which are produced when a human being is in a relatively calm and relaxed state. It is thought that mediation can increase the brain’s production of alpha waves, helping people to de-stress and rest.
Ghenacia’s Alpha Wave Experience is essentially an audio-visual encounter where up to twenty people lie down in a specially constructed hybrid object or ‘machine’, designed and engineered by artist Anine Kirsten, labelled The Oracle, and respond to a combination of light and sound. The Alpha Wave frequency is generated from the strobe effect, stimulating the optic nerve in the brain and causing those present to have visual experiences with eyes closed. Some claim to reach a higher state of consciousness or even a dreamlike state which creates a feeling lightness and heightens relaxation. The experience is aimed at generating positive mind and body outcomes for those who take part. To fully immerse the subjects, Ghenacia created a soundscape with elements from nature which encouraged a state that fluctuated between meditation and psychedelic effects. Optimum sound quality was absolutely essential to the success of the installation.
Dan Ghenacia explains:
“We obviously aimed for the best sound we could get, so we chose Pioneer PRO AUDIO and opted to use its CM-Series speakers. Although this was quite an unusual application, the speakers are incredibly versatile and perfectly fitted the bill. As well as delivering fantastic audio they could be mounted very discreetly, which was essential for the visual aspect of the space when people first arrived at The Oracle. I’ve had a close relationship with Dan Tait (Pioneer DJ Artist Relations Manager) for many years, and have always been a fan and user of Pioneer DJ and Pioneer PRO AUDIO equipment and technology. When I told him about the project he was very excited – at the time, he was actually researching for a documentary about the science behind why people like to dance, so we were very aligned.
“Without the help of Pioneer PRO AUDIO we might have been restricted to using just a basic sound system or headphones, and The Oracle would not have been the same. To be honest, it was the support of Pioneer PRO AUDIO that finalised the approval of our participation in Lille3000.”
A 360° immersive system for The Oracle was designed by Javi Ferrer of Barcelona-based technology consultants Eurecat and installed by Belgian installer Discostore. It incorporated 20 x Pioneer PRO AUDIO CM-S56T 6-inch surface mounted loudspeakers attached to trussing, complemented by 4 x CM-510ST 10-inch subwoofers positioned on the floor. The system was driven by 5 x Powersoft Mezzo 604 AD amplifiers.
During the five months of its presence at Lille3000, more than 30,000 people visited the Alpha Wave experience. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with most subjects reporting highly visual and relaxing experiences, with some feeling transported to different realms of reality. The Alpha Wave Experience is growing and expanding, with plans to stage the installation at a number of art events across the globe, while the team behind the project continues to work with neuroscientist Francisco Teixeira who is conducting scientific tests to determine evidence of its positive impact.
Dan Ghenacia sees a bright future for the Alpha Wave Experience:
“I wouldn’t change anything about the install and I’m extremely happy with what Pioneer PRO AUDIO provided for us in terms of the sound. The process, I suppose, may change – in the future we want to add more features to the experience like neurofeedback headsets to create NFTs and art pieces with our brain frequencies. This will evolve with time and we hope that Pioneer PRO AUDIO is always part of the evolution.”