Richie Budd’s installation for Artpace, Absorbing Liminal Homeostasis, is a new chapter in the artist’s investigation of heightened sensory experience. It incorporates Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a communication model applied in psychotherapy that studies the structure of subjective experience. The exhibition illustrates the ongoing aesthetic and conceptual evolution of Budd’s work. Using medical equipment, speakers, mirrors, aromatherapy devices, lights, smoke, snow, and a margarita machine, the project transcends the artist’s previous provocations of sensory responses by including a psychological investigation of cultural programming.
Budd’s opening night performance featured the artist as neurological disc jockey, commanding sound, lights, and sensory elements. Through the polyphonic layering of club music and an audio track developed for business coaching, the artist melded popular culture with psychological inquiry. The coaching track employs a series of open-ended questions developed under the rubric of career advancement and personal development. This series of inquiries contrasted with the audio tracks, which celebrate material wealth, youth, and the latest trends.
An aromatherapy blend of citrus, lavender, and peppermint stimulated our sense of smell; the blend of scents is thought to increase focus and act as a mood elevator and relaxant. The olfactory system is one of the most developed parts of the brain: information derived from smell travels widely, influencing memory, emotion, behavior, and conscious thought. The installation’s stimulation of these receptor neurons is its primary vehicle for creating an impression and is an important tool for prompting later recollection of the event.
Through careful observation of viewers’ reactions to his past works, the artist has developed extensive documentation of how individual elements of his machines influence an audience. He has incorporated key attractor-repulsor elements throughout Absorbing Liminal Homeostasis –particularly in the convex mirrors. Prompting a variety of reactions, the mirrors can be seen as a tool for investigating the development of physical, sexual, and social identity.
Budd’s installation positions the artist as a psychological magician of sorts, generating strong viewer responses through the literal activation of smoke and mirrors.