Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days

When Marcos Lutyens arrived in Kassel in the summer of 2012, he didn't know he would end up staying for the entire 100 days of documenta 13 to perform 340 hypnotic sessions with the audience. Unfolding in the Reflection Room in Kassel s Karlsaue Park, it was the most involved installment of the Hypnotic Show to date 'an exhibition that exists only in the mind of the audience,' according to Lutyens's collaborator Raimundas Mala auskas. Lutyens also didn t know that he would write a book about it: Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days, an intimate and hardly qualifiable document. Here, the artist chronicles the Hypnotic Show and puts together all kinds of improbable experiences for his readers: research of cognition and neurological activity, deep exploration of varying states of consciousness, and, at the center, the possibility for contingency and embodied dematerialization within the current thinking of art.
Is it possible to become an avocado? To become chocolate? How about a book? A park bench? Can we kill someone without actually killing anybody? Slip through a passing sound? Lose our fear of death? Can we feel samba in our fingerprints? Can we forget a language we know? Is it possible to remember and experience things that have not previously occurred to us? Can we alter the hierarchy of the senses? Can we create animals that do not yet exist and give life to those whose existence has not been proven? Can we turn an organic tomato into Napoleon? Can we enter a lysergic state without taking LSD? Is it possible to halt a disease for a brief period of time? To create an art show that exists only in the minds of visitors? Can we process 20 million bytes of information per minute? In the primary reality in which we normally exist, the answer to these questions is simply 'no'. However, in the expansion of our reality that hypnosis allows for, the answer becomes affirmative. The word 'hypnosis' often conjures images of power struggle and mind control. As if hypnosis was somehow restricted to our mental space and, in turn, as if mental space undermined and disabled the body. Instead, couldn't we conceive of hypnosis as a tool for embodied thinking? As the possibility of a new way of thinking, rather than a set of new ideas that support our usual ways of thinking?
'Have you ever been in a trance before?' This question kicked off all 340 hypnosis sessions that Marcos Lutyens conducted during the 100 days of the Kassel dOCUMENTA (13) in the Reflection Room. A duplicated space that worked as a gateway to other realities, a buffer zone between Karlsauepark and the many scenarios induced in the minds of participants, many of them drawn from Paper Exhibition, a collection of writings by Raimundas Malasauskas. Just as in Flatland, a dazzling dimensional leap. The body of the visitor as a device for an enhanced, multiplied reality. The series of sessions provoked a change in perception even for Lutyens, thus blurring the lines between the act of hypnotizing and being hypnotized on several occasions. Memoirs of a Hypnotist is a first person account collecting the experience of those 100 intense days in which the Reflection Room also served as an art-free shelter within dOCUMENTA (13), to explore the contingency of the states of consciousness, neurological activity and a number of theories on cognition. Designed by Goda Budvytyt', Memoirs of a Hypnotist begins with a numerical countdown, as if our mind were an elevator that descends and reverses its usual course in order to reach the places we never quite get to in our routine perception of the world. In order to reach, say, an onion's subatomic level, or a state of synesthesia in which someone's voice suddenly turns red.
Sonia Fernández Pan
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Does healing figure as a function of hypnosis or is it the hypnotist himself who is hystericized by the very process he puts into action? Hypnosis again today. After psychoanalysis worked so hard to fix the subject of the unconscious as a 'subjectivized lack,' a subject endowed with 'the gift of speech'; captured by the desire of the other; doomed to eternal production; and also absolved by repetition. To whom does hypnosis then address itself today? Perhaps to the subject of the unconscious, to that which speaks in tongues, but whom does the hypnotist encounter in his conjuring, who is silenced and what speaks? What hears the sounds of the body that emerge with the silencing of words? Psychoanalysis has long abandoned the illusion of a therapeutic cure, a cleansing ritual, and has positioned itself against the assertion of experience over ontology. Freud and then Lacan in turn and in tandem have created a cut with these models of shamanism, these magical precursors, the subject is already barred, split, haunted by its own spectral image. But is the cut clean? Is the primordial layer that underlies the formations of the ego as an imaginary alienating identification the same one conjured by the hypnotists? Or is there no sage, no shaman behind the subject as it is itself already an Other. Or to put it otherwise why is the Shaman crippled by the witnessing of that which lends itself to the illusion of completeness? The repetition of hypnosis appears to blur the limit between psychoanalysis and humanistic therapeutics that tend to be certain of the possibility of speaking to this 'primitive magical matter.' The analyst does not speak but It speaks and It speaks incessantly. For this reason, analysis is an interminable process, a non-therapeutic, and non-caritas practice. Now and in light of these hypnotic sessions, the hypnotist is a surprising figure. As a subject supposed to know we find him constantly revealing too much in revealing that he knows too little ' the question of knowledge is constantly puncturing the sensorial labyrinth drawn out in the sessions.
The scene when the lingering fellow screams out ecstasy is particularly interesting, the hypnotist master is so distraught by the enjoyment, it appears that the hypnotist cannot really fullfill his role. He does not seem to be able to control his subjects, his power is bare and barely there. Hence you get a very intriguing mix of knowledge and enjoyment with a strange sense of the futility of liberation from the unconscious. I don't know if hypnosis is more of the same in this sense or less of the unfamiliar.
Nadia Bou Ali American University of Beirut
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ During dOCUMENTA (13) the Reflecting Room was located in a cabin in the park Karlsaue. In association with curator Raimundas Malasauskas, artist and psychoanalyst Marcos Lutyens organized the Hypnotic Show there. During the hundred days of documenta 340 hypnosis sessions took place in this cabin. The hut was designed following a fully symmetric and mirroring matrix which should ensure that the visitor immediately accessed a receptive state, and even before a single word was spoken the subconscious would predominates the obsessive, intrusive consciousness that controls our daily lives. Listening with eyes closed to the slow and deep voice of Lutyens, which was reciting an adaptation of the book Paper Exhibition of Malasauskas, the visitor was led to his inner domain. In the recently published Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days Lutyens writes extensively on his experiences during the Hypnotic Show. Under pressure of economics, religion and ruling morals we became insensitive individuals driven by greed and reason, Marcos Lutyens states. In addition, our perception of reality became clouded by a overrepresentation of electronic connections. We must reconfigure ourselves mentally. Contact with the subconscious means the activation of alternative ways of perceiving and being. At a time when privacy is a scarce resource, we must not see the subconscious as a threat, he says, but embrace it. The subconscious is a shelter. Lutyens states that learning, experimenting, listening and being together with the participants are the core values of the Hypnotic Show. In collectivity and on mental strength the exhibition was formed. Against the background of the dOCUMENTA (13) these blurred boundaries of authorship and this alternative exhibition format felt as a relief for him. Lutyens: 'Unlike a physical exhibition (') one has to imagine each person in the room diverging into very different versions of this experience, branching out further and further, not so much in their own passive interpretations but rather in active imaginary recreations of the scene. Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days is especially a retrospective. Lutyens asks himself why he chose for hypnosis and how he can justify this to himself and his public. He outlines the course of the sessions, and indicates with participants responses how the work was received. Halfway the somewhat muddled story I start wondering what the Lutyens reason must have been to write it. What does he exactly want to tell, why does he need so many words to record in writing that what happened? The lack of sharpness in the report does wonder, given that the sharpness was probably present during the sessions. It's for Lutyens about the functioning of the mirror, given the symmetrical architecture of the cabin, but also in movements in time during the sessions: 'I used the seconds it would take to swing back as a cue to go back and forth through time, my body and voice swaying back and forth, back and forth: forwards into the future, back into the past, graduate, further and further.' And suddenly it becomes clear how Lutyens also tries to do something similar in this book. The book contains ten chapters, in which he relaxed swings back and forth between expectation and memory, anecdote and disquisition. His attempt to also give them who were unable to attend an outline of what took place found is fascinating. Maybe even hypnotic.

Julia Steenhuisen ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Starting from sailing with two boats at the same time, we are not children of the sea. We, schizophrenic me and me, hear the boundless sounds of waves and the quiet corner in a familiar cityscape simultaneously. Salty moist air is a nice blanket for dreams. It is always about dreams that go offshore from the beach take on a journey through space without spatial qualities and through time in times. It is always about going there there dear.

Together we sank into the in between of the present and memories, my experiences in the mirrored room in Kassel and reading this book, two hypnosis sessions in room 209, one with Marcos there and one with Marcos as a sound sculptural frequency. My feet are like two kites, smiling. Each page smirks to the next one. The mirrored twin page numbers construct pendulums between more lines. Me me mind mind swing. The consciousness levels split into the long long staircase, and I could feel WE are walking down and up, in and out till we lose bodies. Form is the last tangible thing, but everything else is amplified up to the sun-scale heat. Things look bright and pretty. Our dreams look pretty with new action of painting. All movements are free and multi-dimensional. They become music. How can music exist when space is melted? We think. I become music when I become the space and the echo and the sound waves too. New mystery is unfolded in front of my nose. There there. A new sense of me emerged. We multiply. We are so light. Our composition is amusing and embracing.

One thing happened, or let's say, a switch was on. I realized, no, we realized that all we want to do in art is to transform space and time. It is the biggest power of art. The infinite desire for time travel burns our hearts. What happened there there there was that time became an origami game, folding into varying shapes, and we travel there, coasting along with the edges, the lines, the planes, the gaps, and there is purple, yellow, pink, and pistachio green. A palace of colors and warm tastes from the memories. Oh, we think this is such a predictable trick with the stairs. Why is it so uplifting when there is no measurement for time? It is so far and yet close. Like listening to two tracks of music scores at the same time. We can't find any sense of harmony but it doesn't matter at all.

You find explosion of you. I find peace of me. You find flavorful lights. I play behind shadows. I can count ten to one, too. So I count ten to one, and I become so small, less then a feather or dust, in a nice little hole. This hole is however physically like a liquid yolk larger than the Pacific. We are still traveling, though at different speeds. I think of how I go to sleep everyday, and this is a bit like it, letting flashes of memory crash through the brain, drumming moments into electronic waves. You cry. Who cries? You try to identify me there there. Dancing in herby land. I grow into a tree and eat air. Why sigh? Lovely wind.
You take a sip of murky coffee, Turkish sweet and orbiting around a new gravity. A breathe of fresh looking universe inhaled. We have more feet than ten octopuses, so we we dance to expand the air and send messages. Me me informed by big energy. You you just feel your head is tilted, leaning against a soft pillow that smells as a hopeful tomorrow. We we like to sing.
It makes no logic. It creates unbeatable rhythms. Intense and charming. Our eyes open and see the world differently. We age zero like babies. After being there there dear there, songs we remember and minds leap.

Esther Lu ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 'An art installation that challenges [and shows] that preconceptions are the enemy of new ideas.'
Some books surprise the reader beyond expectations. This is one such a book. Marcos Lutyens, who inhabits the artistic branch of the famous Lutyens family (the other branches are architecture, music, and literature) is known especially for his installations in the quinquennial documenta exhibits of contemporary art.
In these pages he has outlined a remarkable 'exhibition in the mind.' Quite unlike any exhibit readers will likely be familiar with, it aims to project a singular, and therefore unrepeatable, experience in the mind of each viewer.
The challenge sounds impossible, but Lutyens pulls it off as he illuminates his theory and approach to 'guided daydreaming sessions.' He wants to shake viewers up by 'violating' their expectations. In this, he appears to succeed.
Starting with observations, grounded firmly in both art and neuroscience, that symmetry is profoundly embedded in the human psyche, he begins'and here we enjoy feeling the artist groping his way into unexplored territory in a manner that is both vivid and accessible'by attempting to construct, at first by trial and error, a 'reflection room.' This is literally a space in which floor and ceiling mirror one another, as do walls, stairs, and furnishings.
Its purpose is to unmoor spectators from their typical frames of reference. It forces them to question their assumptions about reality and how the world is'because how the world is, Lutynes suggests, is all a matter of perspective.
The purpose of the reflection room and similar constructions is to guide spectators through unconscious scenarios''to make them receptive, 'to allow participants to enter into a state in which their minds may have been closed to them.' The artistic installations and hypnosis sessions mean to guide viewers through inner journeys of self'discovery. As Lutyens sums it up, 'Preconceptions are the enemy of new ideas.'
This book puts preconceptions in their place.
New York Journal of Books by author and neurologist Richard E. Cytowic