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Sydney's New Immersive Shipping Container Installation Will Mess with Your Senses

The experience is set up in The Rocks — enter if you dare (and aren't claustrophobic).
By Jonathan Ford
November 23, 2017
By Jonathan Ford
November 23, 2017

There's a big, white container sitting down a back alley in The Rocks. Black letters on the side spell out 'séance' so it's obvious that this container's not transporting furniture. And the dark curtains that hang across the entrance make it look kind of ominous.

Séance is actually a new installation that aims 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 Darkscape, 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 (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.

After a hugely successful residence in Melbourne, the installation is in Sydney for another few weeks. A stint in Brisbane may also be on the cards for next year.

Séance is open daily until December 10 at Atherden Street, The Rocks. Tickets cost $20 each and you can purchase them through the website.

Published on November 23, 2017 by Jonathan Ford
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