Cynthia Markhoff
Ulrika Sparre
Mikael Kangas
Shannon Bool


A Project that transfers the medieval concept of Horror Vacui (the tendency to ornament empty space through fear of its existence) with contemporary society’s need to surround space with information flow and stimulus.
The concept of Horror Vacui began with Aristotle, who, in his work Physics, denied any reality whatsoever to the existence of a void in space. Medieval Scientists elaborated this theory in the 13thC and believed that nature would adapt in any way to avoid the production of the void. This theory was also connected to the art historical notion that space was unholy and needed to be filled with ornamentation.
In our project, we have attempted to explore the relationship and/or conflict between seclusion and stimulation. For example, while the two factors can be viewed as positive, albeit opposing elements, over stimulation can be viewed almost as a societal disease, and sensory deprivation, over longer periods of time is an effective torture method. However, when used within a short term context, sensory deprivation can range from an experience of prayer and self-reflection to a therapeutic tool. Similarly, our contemporary need for stimulus reflects the comfortable relationship we have with the ebb and flow of information that we experience on a daily basis.
In opposition to modernism’s claim of the ornament’s redundancy, we have determined that quantities of information, once removed from their original communicative function, act as ornaments which fill our daily lives. Lifestyle portrayed through advertisements, simplified representations of complex scientific phenomena, shifting numbers in financial reports, and endless sports programs are all examples of media that surround and soothe seclusion-fearing individuals in our information age.
Our project consists of a two-fold installation: the first, a sculptural rendition of a sensory deprivation chamber, and the second, an animation and video with sound program, that will be projected onto the outside of the sensory deprivation chamber. When the viewer enters the chamber, a sensor will activate the video projection outside, thus emphasising the relationship between seclusion and stimulation. The video animation is a collage of television programs, arranged similar to channel surfing, or „zapping“, that are overlap with an animated version of an ornament that was found in a 18thC wall painting in the bakery building in Gravenhorst. The sound combines the voice of an anger management tape with CNN programming and voices recorded in the main train station in Stockholm.