Zoe Séance

Zoe Seance is a multimedia performance and design project using an augmented reality app and brain headset to investigate our relationship with our human identity and a possible merging with non-human others.

The project is inspired by the writings of the critical posthumanist philosopher Rosi Braidotti, who is interrogating the question of what it means to be human. The convergence of advanced technologies coupled with the increasing environmental devastation are steering towards an unstable future where we are forced to re-evaluate our place in this anthropocentric world. Braidotti proposes a new life force concept that she names ‘Zoe’: ‘becoming-animal, becoming-earth and becoming-machine’.

The performance conducted as a seance explores this merging by augmenting the viewer’s face with non-human other entities such as plants, animals and technology to question current identity conventions and embrace new queer multi-species becomings of oneself. The experience is conducted via a tablet that contains an AR app and a Muse 2 brain headset that is placed on the participant’s head.

The Muse 2 captures the alpha waves of the participant and shares this data with the application to influence the augmentation. The app will mask the participants face with layers of visual elements corresponding to their brain data. The augmentation has an alienating effect, possibly estranging the users from themselves by holding up a mirror to other possible identities within ourselves.

Within the setting of a ritualistic séance the audience is invited to embark on a journey of self transformation. Just like in traditional séances, the focus lies on connecting with the invisible and the disembodied within the network. The artwork asks deep questions around how comfortable we will be with this shift of our identity and hopes to provoke a rethinking of our purpose and position on
the planet.

Zoe Seance is a work developed and produced by Panja Göbel and Unnur Andrea Einarsdóttir and was exhibited at Lothringer 13 Halle in Munich in December 2022.

Zoe Seance

Zoe Seance at Lothringer 13 Halle, photo by Mathias Reitz Zausinger

Zoe Seance at Lothringer 13 Halle, photo by Mathias Reitz Zausinger

Becoming animal, photo by Mathias Reitz Zausinger

Brain Data, photo by Mathias Reitz Zausinger

Zoe Seance at Lothringer 13 Halle from Panjapop on Vimeo.