Kathleen Rogers: Viperscience

Interactive triggered sound and video installation concerned with physiological consciousness and imagistic aspects of the snake as encoded knowledge for the Incident at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London based on the work of the late Jose Diaz Bolio.an anthropologist concerned with the world view and science of earlier Mayan cultures in Mexico.


Photos from The Ruins of Uxmal, Jose Diaz Bolio

Viperscience and the Feathered Serpent
Installation based on the detailed work of the unorthodox anthropologist Jose Diaz Bolio from Yucatan, Mexico, an expert on Mayan culture and author of The Feathered Serpent Axis of Cultures. According to Bolio all representations of the feathered serpent derive from a particular indigenous rattlesnake. His work sets out to prove that the snake has a euclidian projection like a bio-abacus in its skin pattern. He proposes that this pattern provided the ancient mayans with a biomathematics to calculate time and apply to their architectural and ritual systems. The author Doris Lessing uses science fiction and ancient mythologies to grapple with theoretical science and in a similar way, Bolio uses hundreds of photographs and pamphlets to set out to prove his thesis with visual evidence. The narrative of his work stretches over five decades. These documents inspired me to visit the Mayan ruins in Uxmal, Yucatan, a pyramid complex and tangible serpent universe described in his books and to meet and collaborate with him on a technological extension of his work using his title Viperscience.

Rattlesnake Cage
Installation in upper gallery, using ultra sonic triggered rattlesnake recordings as live mix with deep bass audio and random signal noise. High contrast black and white video projection, presenting optical illusion of side winder snake appearing to make a three dimensional spiral path as it moves along a flat landscape. The imagery and triggered audio patterns operated on the senses to re-create a physiological and mythological counterpart to the Mayan snake temples at Uxmal. In the context of the Incident, the unpredictability of the snake with its archetypal and universal symbolism referenced the artificial control systems in robotics that mimic some of the primordial sensory locomotion of the snake. These machine augmented serpents are consistent with Jung's definition of an archetype that persists through technological reinvention and time. In the case of the viperscience the unconscious destructive and creative potential in human beings, described by Jung also invoked the iconic image of the spiraling vortex of DNA driven biotechnology.






Photos from The Feathered Serpent Axis of Cultures, Jose Diaz Bolio

View the Viperscience Gallery

A nest of Mayan rattlesnakes hiss and writhe in greeting to people entering Kathleen Rogers' installation, Viperscience. Human movements in the room are detected by ultrasonic beams, unleashing a battery of fizzling rattler recordings and animating a twisting and flickery video serpent. The Mayans used the plumed serpent as a sort of mystic abacus, counting the scales to compute their sacred calendar.

Judith Palmer, The Independent

Lost Knowledge
In the context of the work a panel was put together called Lost Knowledge with Robert Bauval, an expert in Egyptian archeo-astronomy looking at the origins and function of the pyramids and the sphinx, David Peat, working on dialogues between western scientists and Native American Elders and Beata Bishop, a Jungian psychotherapist, working on European Shamanism and healing.

This paper reviews the first "Consciousness Reframed" conference. A number of artists' works in media such as virtual reality and interactive installations are discussed, and various issues relating to "technoetic" artworks are raised. These issues include questions such as the potentially dehumanizing nature of technology, the transcendent states claimed for cyberspace, the nature of immersion, and aspects of the problem of consciousness. The author offers some suggestions regarding how technoetic art might tackle such issues

Beyond dreaming one comes to the trance states of the shaman. Kathleen Rogers in her paper "Viperscience" explores Mayan shamanism in the mythology of the snake, She "draws on the work of the unorthodox anthropologist Jose Diaz Bolio from Yucatan, Mexico...author of The Feathered Serpent - Axis of Cultures" to explore the role of the rattlesnake in Mayan art and religion. Bolio has proposed "that the plumed serpent in the image of the rattlesnake embodied the essential physical resonance, energisation states and vortex mechanics to become a living psychic software." That is that the priests of the Mayan culture use the "harmonic geometry of the snake skin as mask for scrying" and similar shamanic activities. Rogers' intention "is to re-activate this complex model of Mayan consciousness" as a kind of cognitive archeology of the snake in its, perhaps universal, representation of spiritual energy as well as the cyclical notion of time held by the Maya.

Stephen Jones
Project review in a philosophy of Virtual Reality and issues implicit in "Consciousness Reframed" published in Leonardo Journal.

Publications and Presentations

The Incident, Lost Knowledge, ICA london.
Further details

Towards a Science of Consciousness III, University of Arizona, USA

American Association of Anthropology, SAC, Berkeley University, USA

CAII, Consciousness Reframed I, University of Wales

Digital Dreams 4, Accross two Cultures, Millenial Fever or Emergent Culture? Newcastle.
Distributed by the British Film Institute.

European Snake Society - Litteratura Serpentium
Journal Article in issue concerned with the biological, cultural and symbolic aspects of serpents. Viperscience. Ode to the Unorthodox Anthropologist Jose Diaz Bolio. ISSN 0926-3586

Posted by Kathleen on August 25, 2006 12:00 PM to Kathleen Rogers