After spooking participants in Federation Square last November, then in Sydney in December, the unnerving Séance installation is returning to Melbourne. The big, white container — with dark curtains and black letters splashed across its side — is popping up at the Queen Victoria Market this July.
If you're not familiar with the installation, and didn't have the chance to visit last year, a word of warning: its aim is to mess with your senses. Participants take a seat inside the tiny space, put on a headset and are told to place both hands on the table. The lights go out leaving the container in absolute darkness and, for 15 uneasy minutes, participants are taken on an immersive journey led only by touch and sounds. Expect to feel confused, repulsed and struck with temporary claustrophobia. According to organisers, numerous participants bailed halfway through sittings during the recent Melbourne sessions.
You're probably thinking that there's something dark or supernatural about the whole thing — and going by the name, we don't blame you. But the installation's organiser assures us that 'séance' is simply a French word meaning 'session' or 'sitting'. Did we mention that the velvet seats date back to 1913 and were pulled from an abandoned theatre?
And so Séance is a sensory experience that looks at the psychology of both sensory deprivation and the dynamics of a group sitting together. It's a scary indicator of how easy it is for confusion, disorientation and information overload to affect our judgment.
Artists David Rosenberg and Glen Neath of Darkfield (who have collaborated in other sensory deprivation projects before) are the creative masterminds behind the project, which has been described as 'disorienting' and 'deeply unsettling'. We're serious when we say it's not recommended for the claustrophobic, the easily frightened or those afraid of the dark.
Séance is open at Queen Victoria Market on Wednesday July 11, 18 and 25 (as part of the Winter Night Market) and Saturday July 14, 21 and 28. Tickets cost $20 each and you can purchase them through the website.