Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light. - Plato, Allegory of the Cave
CAVE is an interactive, collaborative artscience installation that merges the sensibility of 35,000-year-old cave art with current explorations in neuroscience. The NeuroCave Collaborative has created a multisensory work in which the viewer’s brainwaves (mapped through the use of a simple EEG headset) generate light and sound in an immersive filmic and sonic environment. The viewer informs and becomes a part of the artwork, thus blurring the perceptual boundaries between creation and sensation. The encompassing animation and soundscape echoes cultural memory, bridging humanity’s most rudimentary creative tools with today’s most high-tech ones.
The reciprocity between the original cave walls and the artists, likely female, (Were the First Artists Mostly Women?, National Geographic, 2013) was profound. The forms of the cave architecture itself were engaged as “living membranes between the realms” (The Mind in the Cave, David Lewis-Williams, 2002). Marc Azema, archaeologist at University of Toulouse Le-Mirail, France, concludes in his book, La Prehistoire du Cinema (2011), that the paintings on cave walls were our first animations, perceived in the flicker of torchlight.
The imaginative activities that took place within historic caves remind us to revere that which both sustains and preys upon us within and without. As Kevin Kelly states in What Technology Wants, technology is “…a vital spirit that throws us forward or pushes against us. Not a thing, but a verb.” As we grow and unfold with our 21st century technological devices, a new shapeshifting is taking place. CAVE asks the viewer to consider what is fundamentally human in the development of all our creative tools and technologies. How are those deeper and often invisible aspects of our humanity still at play as they were thousands of years ago?