Collective channels

Artist Susan Hiller on her A/V installation collating personal accounts of near-death experiences

'Channels' is Susan Hiller's fourth exhibition at Matt's Gallery in East London. The artist presents an audio-visual installation in which collected personal accounts of near-death experiences are generated via a sculptural grid of analogue television sets, emitting flickers of glowing blue in a darkened room. Each voice is heard sequentially at first, one fading as another begins, until gradually multiple voices begin to merge, escalating into an eerily incomprehensible mass of utterances.

While the accounts describe individual experiences, the installation gives form to a collective (un)consciousness, a sense of the phenomenon as a single, shared experience. The idea of mass consciousness and of individuals speaking out simultaneously from around the world is reminiscent of the way we share and interact through the internet, indicative of Hiller's ongoing interest in contemporary audio and visual technologies which often inform her ‘paraconceptual’ work, highlighting strangeness through multiplicities.

There is no conclusive scientific explanation for near-death experiences; unable to be decoded and classified, the phenomenon is open to interpretation. Hiller is interested in the possibility that the human mind itself might act like a television, receiving rather than generating consciousness, with access to wider information made inaccessible by the primal 'hardwiring' of our brains.

Film interview by Amy Knight

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