‘Silicon Synapse’ is an immersive Virtual Reality and psycho-acoustic experience that will take you on a simulated journey into the personified mind of ‘Technology’. Listening to the inner dialogue of ‘Technology’s’ mind as it replays both sides of a lovers’ quarrel. ‘Technology’ and its life partner ‘Nature’ argue about the sustainability of their relationship and their future as a couple. ‘Silicon Synapse’ explores evolution, genetic engineering and transhumanism. Each viewer is engulfed by a conscious dream-like realm, as they travel through intense listening and visual experiences.
Silicon Synapse is a 30 minute single person immersive Virtual Reality and 25 channel psycho-acoustic audio experience which takes you through various environments, both physical and virtual. Silicon Synapse explores evolution, genetic engineering and transhumanism. Each viewer is engulfed by a conscious, dream-like realm as they travel through bodily forms composed of intense listening and visual experiences.
Silicon Synapse was installed within the repurposed historic setting of the Carnegie Library, Swords (Nov 2019- Jan 2020). This library was once a place of knowledge and learning, shaping the minds and synapses of thousands of people. The audience entered through the remnant doors of the library and were engulfed by the technology that has largely replaced it.
Created by AlanJames Burns, with Writer Sue Rainsford, Artist Jason Dunne and Composer Michael Riordan. The artwork was commissioned by Fingal County Council Arts Office and funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Open Call Award 2019, European Commission’s SciArt Residency programme and Cavan Arts Act Grant 2019. Silicon Synapse coincided with Fingal County Council’s Arts Office Public Art Programme focus on the developing Swords Cultural Quarter project.
An adapted experience was exhibited concurrently as part of the Datami Festival at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Milan, Italy and Bozar, Brussels, Dec 2019.
“Silicon Synapse was an entirely immersive adventure that expanded beyond the realm of the expected. The experience began even before entering the building that housed it. Experienced alone, one seemed to side step into a timeless alternate reality well before the anticipated virtual reality came into play.
On entering the Carnegie Library building, which looked as though it had been tasked with keeping the secrets of what lay within, I was guided through the lobby with its eerie and slightly sinister atmosphere to the waiting room, empty aside from an electric fire and a haunting soundscape. To be left alone in such circumstances prompted feelings of unease and thoughts of potential escape. Being ushered into a dark corridor through the second door in the room began a trepidatious trip towards yet another doorway, which was bleeding a mysterious tangerine glow. Opening this door revealed a room filled with dangling tentacles of light, speakers, and a plethora of neatly arranged wires and cables evocative of an electronic spider web, all encircling a stool and VR headset at the centre of the room.
Once seated on the stool, I lowered on the headset, which triggered a cacophony of sounds and once the mask was in place I could see that I had entered yet another reality. What followed was a disorientating voyage through organic shapes, natural textures and a rainbow of colours which was the visual accompaniment to an at first chaotic, but increasingly understandable, 3D aural assault. Traversing this alien landscape then led me through to a more clinical and smooth textured territory with copper coloured flat structures which were simultaneously reminiscent of circuit boards and hieroglyphics, relating back to the timelessness of the piece.
The journey ended with a view of a virtual stool identical to the one I was sitting on. Taking off the headset at the end of the piece was somewhat jarring. The glowing lights and the real world took a minute to adjust to and, reluctantly leaving the room, I felt as though I had just awoken from a hypnosis or dream like state.” HK, Administrator
Artist: AlanJames Burns
Public Art Coordinator and Commissioner: Caroline Cowley, Fingal Arts
Writer: Sue Rainsford
Sound Editor: Michael O’Riordan
Concept Art: Jason Dunne
Unity Design: Robert McGregor
Modelling: Joe Daly, Karen Peaking, Kevin Ryan
Animation: Kev Ryan
Graphics Coding: Oisin Carroll
Voice Over: Peter Corboy
Project Support and Guidance: Emer Lynch
Invigilator: Silvia Poppmeier
Technicians: Andreas Kindler Von Knobloch, Hugh Hart, Aine McBride, Conal Downs
Administration: Maeve O’Flaherty, Silvia Poppmeier, Lisa Freeman, Ciara McKeon, Marie Farrington
Publicity: Sabrina Sheehan Mission PR, Fingal Press Office.
Photography and Video: Trevor Whelan
Web Design: Cathal Sherlock
Commissioners: Fingal County Council, European Commission.
Funding: Arts Council Ireland Open Call Award 2019
European Commission Coordinator: Adriaan Eeckels
European Commission Curator: Freddy Paul Grunert, Cristina Fiordimela
European Commission Scientists: Thierry Benoist, Vicky Charisi, Nicole Dewandre