(above) Decellularized Ghost Heart by Doris Taylor

Recordar | to pass through the heart

Commissioned performance at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study for the Radcliffe Gallery Series, in conversation with exhibition by Dario Robleto, Silent and Solitary Seas

Cambridge, MA, 2019

This performance by VISION LAB will take as its starting point not "the human heart," but rather your own human heart, creatively repurposing Harvard's archive of earliest waveform recordings of blood flowing from the heart (1874-1896) with contemporary interventions and interactive media. We invite you to participate in investigating what is alive within you, through dream hacking, testimony of medical experience, movement arts, Cardiospermum halicacabum, an introduction to The Night Journey of mystical Islam, the question of whether the heart can lie to itself, poetry, percussion compositions, crickets, interactive sensors and visualizations of cardio data, critiques of Eurocentric understanding of “the pulse,” and intimate conversations with you about all of this and more.

VISION LAB is an experimental arts and research collective attuned to the future of spirituality in the human and more-than human world. We are based at Harvard Divinity School and create performances, artistic works in a variety of media, conferences, and collaborations combining radically imaginative cross-disciplinary conversations and experiential practices spanning the areas of social and environmental justice, technology, and literary and artistic practice.

We have been asking questions, such as: What kinds of new knowledges might we develop and share collectively in our art-making, writing, scholarship, and social practices? How can form be re-invented or re-considered in ways that remake conventional frameworks of meaning, and how can this re-making address and transform our contemporary sense of political, social, spiritual, and ecological crisis? How is it possible to transform and heal ourselves and our ways of life, to attune ourselves to each other and our fragile planet?

These are some of the questions which we have been pursuing collectively since founding VISION LAB in late fall 2017, through public workshops, residencies, presentations, collaborations of art and literary work, and experiential retreats, held last year in Vision Lab’s residence at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, this past year through performative engagements with the Radcliffe Gallery Series, and next year in upcoming partnerships with other Harvard and MIT Institutes and the larger Boston arts community. We are currently growing and open to new members and collaborative ideas and venues for 2019/20; anyone receiving this email (or resonating with these ideas) is welcome to participate.

Matthew Battles; writer, artist, and director, Harvard MetaLab; technology and arts practice.

Dharam Singh: gong traveler, shepherd to the un-gonged.....Dharam came up freer than many, on Freeman St - an environment where there was no escaping rhythm - drumming and the chants of Africa via Caribbean immigrants echoed through the canyons of the South Bronx, the birthplace of both Salsa (Cuban and Puerto Rican music with a NY attitude) and Hip Hop. At the age of 20 in Alaska he first experienced the healing power of Kundalini Yoga. That same year he would also meet, study and live with Rolling Thunder (Shoshone-Cherokee Shaman) and have an audience with the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. Through some early and fantastic mind-washings Dharam would witness extended glimpses of perfect being that would inform everything from that point forward. His passion for life and community has found a place in the healing art and sacred science of the Gong as a tool for vibrational transformation and has taught the technology of Gong Yoga here in the US and in South America. Having walked the path of Sikh Dharma with Yogi Bhajan, for 42 years he has come to more fully understand that sound and energy is the essence of the order of everything and that if a person can find peace and wellness through simply laying down, relaxing and listening, then who is he to deny them, what he himself considers a refuge.

Ariana Reines is a poet and Obie-winning playwright.  Her newest book is A Sand Book, longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. Program Note: I'll share a new poem inspired by shades of T.S. Eliot, the heartbeat's link to iambic pentameter, and betrayal. https://www.arianareines.net/

Michelle Bentsman is a movement artist and doctoral student in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. She studies Gaga, Haitian dance, West African dance, and Butoh in the Boston area. Michelle has performed at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, mobius, JCC Manhattan, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her scholarship focuses on cross-cultural healing songs, plant medicine, end-of-life care, and ritual performance.

Biliana Angelova, M.A, MEd, RYT 200 is a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, psychotherapist and yoga therapist, with expertise in yoga, mindfulness, and meditation research. Biliana is devoted to building a community of yoga practitioners and helping people of all experience to transcend all manner of dis-ease through the healing technology of Kundalini Yoga. She serves both the general public and varied patient populations in Boston and San Diego. Her heartsong is her 17 year-old-son.

Matthew Blumberg is interested in how systems think: cells, bodies, minds, societies, ecosystems, and (maybe) computers.  He also likes to make stuff up.  Visiting Fellow, Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH).

Tim Wojcik is a media artist whose work attempts to capture the bits of beauty in everything. He is inspired by the natural and constructed world and learns from contemplative practices and the eternal. Tim is a part-time faculty member at the University of Rhode Island and manages film postproduction at Emerson College. For this collaboration, he captures the pulse of the participants and audience so that our collective heartbeats can be shared.

Adam Haar is an interstitial imp in between neuroscience and experiential art. His work aims to expand possibilities for introspection. Currently a PhD student at MIT, Adam comes from work in brain research on mindfulness and is now focusing on the mechanisms of dreams. Adam’s art/science work has been shown at Cannes, SXSW, the Boston MFA and here and there. Current projects include dystopian emotion spas, microscopic adventures inside the human body, and dream control and capture in the liminal space between wakefulness and sleep. His heartsong is an intergenerational matriarchy, woven together.

Annie Silverman is a visual artist working mainly with woodcut printmaking techniques. She is the proprietor of ABRAZOS PRESS, a teaching and professional print shop in Somerville ,MA, and also an avid, urban gardener. Annie has participated in  the VISION LAB since its inception . Her prints and artist books have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and are in the collections of the Boston Public Library and the Boston Athenaeum.

Arlinda Shtuni is a Boston-based curator, writer and editor. She believes real discoveries happen in in-between spaces or the margins of disciplines. She practices across mediums, acting as editor, writer, video producer, and curator of a salon series that periodically brings together visual artists, scientists, and writers to investigate germane topics such as our encounters with digital technology, the shifting boundary between the public and the private and others.

Andrew Stauffer is a musician, sound artist, and HDS alumnus based in the Okanagan, British Columbia. My creative process for RECRORDAR involved exploring animistic understandings of objects in the world and different ways of translating and interpreting information. I am interested in how spirit or life force can be shared, expressed, or transferred to and from both people and objects. For my recordings, I looked specifically at Robleto’s waveforms of perfect mental repose and religious guilt. I wanted to explore the waveforms not as two-dimensional representations of pulse, but as three-dimensional lines that are followed through time. My recordings aim to capture not only the underlying pulse of each waveform but the smooth, shimmering movement of Robleto’s mysterious sculptures themselves. How does Bertino’s pulse/ life force/spirit transfer from him to waveforms to Robleto’s sculptures, and eventually to my recordings inspired by the waveforms? What, if anything, is transferred? What is gained and what is lost?

Kythe Heller is a poet, essayist, performer, filmmaker, and doctoral student in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University, with a secondary field through Visual and Environmental Studies/Social Anthropology in Critical Arts and Media Practice. Her creative practice and research resonate with a matrix of philosophical, aesthetic, and theological sources, in which traditional wisdom and meditative traditions intersect with poetry, performance, documentary film, and ethnography and are shaped by the dynamic interface of subjectivity and language – the wound and the word --  and inquire into the incarnational and the transformational. In what ways can our writings become sites of evolution, sites of resistance, parts of an array of realizing new social and ecological relationships by considering how to use language to radically change our way of being in the world? She is author of the two poetry collections, The Book of Fire and Immolation and is a recipient of grants and fellowships from Harvard University, The MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Laurels Foundation/PSU. Recent film and multimedia work has been presented at the Harvard Film Studies Center, SEEDS Festival/ Earthdance, Sonoma State University, WAXworks (NYC), BAX (NYC), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in various collaborations and street performances in NYC and elsewhere. She has taught contemporary poetics, religion, literature, arts and media courses at Harvard University, Sarah Lawrence College, Bard Prison Initiative, and Hofstra University, as well as in the Language and Thinking Program at Bard College. kytheheller.com.