Online Projects Americas

Tauba Auerbach: Spiral Induction


The computer is already a hypnotic device. Staring at a fixed focal length, scrolling, and swiping all induce what hypnotherapist Daniel Ryan calls “subtle learning states.” And on the screen, what we repeatedly learn is a bent set of values including ravenous consumerism, preposterous ideas of hierarchy, gender, beauty, and spirituality. We consume these more deeply than we realize.

Hypnotists have used pendulums, repeating sounds, vanishing points, particular vocal cadences, and a variety of other means to produce a state of consciousness and brain activity marked by calm focus and extra sensitivity to suggestion. These tools are called “inductions.”

Can we use the screen to hypnotize in a kinder way? To prompt specific eye movements, to pulse at certain rhythms, and invoke gestures that calm, or heal, or produce clarity of mind? Left-right eye movement is used together with restorative messaging in EMDR therapy to treat post traumatic stress disorder and the counter clockwise spiral is often associated with a cooling, more female aspect (though it’s rarely so simple). This screensaver attempts a more benevolent induction.

Designed by Tauba Auerbach, produced by O-R-G, and presented in coordination with A Taxonomy of Linear Ornament at KADIST in San Francisco.