Exploring the nature of perception in uncertainty. Our Creative Director, Melanie Lalande, describes the curation and making of our special sand painting video by Veronica Syvorotkina. 

We wanted to commission Vira Syvorotkina to do a work specifically for the Lab of Misfits that would demonstrate how partnering art with neuroscience explores the nature of expanding perception. This to me was a thrilling task as working with talented people is a true joy and Vira is insanely talented! The question then became what will the work be? The medium of the sand art is just brilliant to illuminate some of the Lab’s central themes. Which theme should we bring about in this commission? I thought about the Lab of Misfits and what our overall mission is and how I could show its mission through Vira’s medium of the sand art. 

The first challenge I faced was communicating effectively with Vira. While Vira speaks English well, her English skills were not as developed as to fully understand the concept I was asking for her to create!  I asked for the help of another fantastic artist I have worked with over the years, also originally from Ukraine. Alevtyna Titarenko was up for the task. We all jumped on a Zoom and I started to unfold to the two women the vision in my brain. 

The idea is that the Lab deals in perception. We aim to understand to what extent are we aware of our perceptions and how might they limit our understanding of the world. Is there a way we can expand our perceptions and if so, how do we engage with that expansion? 

In the video we first see a keyhole, through which appears the Dinosaur. Imagine our vision is tightly fixed on that one image.  Then you see it is only a toy in a child’s room. Nothing scary at all. Then you see the witness and she has the EEG cap on her head.  She is engaged with the Lab. The Lab is the Octopus …or maybe Beau is the Octopus! Arms all around to create a safe space and help the witness see her space clearly expanded, while measuring the data of how she sees. There is a treasure box as well - when one can expand in a safe environment one feels like one found a treasured space - this idea was important to represent. At the end we see that the scary Dinosaur it is still with us; we just now understand the full scope of the landscape. Now there is a sense of expanded perception.

The last step was to include Beau’s explanation of the Lab of Misfits as a voiceover! When he speaks about his work it is the perfect overlay to the piece Vira created. The music, his voice, her hands and images…it is beautiful as well as meaningful. It is a lovely work to be a part of, I am grateful.

This is how I see the work of the Lab of Misfits and Beau Lotto, safely and playfully working to expand perceptions. What a wonderful endeavor while alive on the planet!

Join us on our mission to explore the nature of perception.


Written by: Melanie Lalande.

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