Seeing Is Believing - Interactive Performance Art

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Riddoch Art Gallery

1 Bay Road

Mount Gambier, SA 5290


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Event description


Seeing is Believing is an experimental art and science collaborative project that simulates a type of chronic pain called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Through a one-on-one interaction between the artist and a participant, the interactive performance installation conveys a metaphorical experience of persistent pain by manipulating each participant’s multisensory experience using the latest technologies – Virtual Reality, Mediated Reality and a custom-built device.

Seeing is Believing is an exercise to demonstrate, contrary to the common belief that pain reflects only the amount of tissue damage, that the brain can still produce perceptions of pain even in the absence of physical injury. It is also an artistic way of externalising an inherently internal experience, so that the audience can experience something of what it is like to have CRPS. Please note that this artwork is designed not to give pain to you, the participant, however it may or may not involve various types of discomfort depending on your response.

This project is a direct result of the artist’s prestigious residency grants support – Synapse residency (Australian Network for Art and Technology) and Amplify Your Art (Accessible Arts) - which assisted the artist to research with world renown pain scientists at Body In Mind (BIM) at the University of South Australia, and Centre for Pain Research, Education and Management at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).


You will be asked to fill in a questionnaire before your participation so please arrive 10-15min earlier. The information you provide will assist the artist’s performance to be appropriately tailored to your experience. If you have persistent pain, the artist highly recommends you make a double session – by registering two 30-minute sessions consecutively.

The experience for participants

Your interaction with the artist will take approximately 30 minutes through two stages. Meant to be immersive and somewhat provocative, aspects of this installation may be confronting.

Stage 1: A fun Mediated Reality experience using a machine called the MIRAGE to distort your hands on the screen in a manner that is incongruent to what the actual hands are doing.

Stage 2: A Virtual Reality experience that simulates an artistic interpretation of CRPS through a combination of visual, physical and auditory stimuli.

The artist’s performance throughout will be friendly and empathetic to make sure that the experience is positive. There will be gentle touches on your hands and head from the artist. If you are unsure about the appropriateness of the exhibit for you, and would like more details of what is involved and how it might affect you personally, then please check the list of health conditions provided in the Disclosure which will be handed out to you upon arrival. Alternatively you can contact the artist or the gallery. The performance can be stopped at a moment’s notice, so if at any time you feel uncomfortable and do not wish to continue simply give the word and it will stop.

Why is this important?

Pain is invisible, yet it is a very real experience for the people living with it. Pain is difficult to communicate using simple words, and we often have to draw on metaphors to try and describe it, but even those fall short as pain is a complex, individual, subjective, and sensory cognitive experience. This experience is highly affected by the biological-psychological-social environment of the individual. People in long-term pain often live in silent isolation, as often there aren’t enough adequate validation modes available for people with persistent pain.

The purpose of this project is to raise the awareness and understanding of persistent pain in a diverse group of audiences through an immersive whole-body experience.

Key collaborators

  • Dr. Tasha Stanton, Dr Valeria Bellan, Professor Lorimer Moseley (Clinical Neuroscientists, Body In Mind, University of South Australia)

  • Dr Roger Newport, Dr Hayley Thair (Neuropsychologists, University of Nottingham)

  • Dr James McAuley and his team (Centre for Pain Research, Education and Management at Neuroscience Research Australia)

Technical assistance

  • Dr. Andrew Burrell (New Media artist)

  • Meisha Stevens (Acoustic engineer)

  • Matthew Bolton (Architect)

  • Corey Stewart (Mechatronic Engineer), Tom Hazell (Electrical Engineer)

This project is generously supported by Synapse Residency 2015 (Australian Network for Art and Technology); devolved funding administered by Accessible Arts (AARTS) on behalf of the Lifetime Care and Support Authority (LTCSA); and Arts NSW and Aging, Disability and Home Care’s Amplify Your Art Program, a devolved funding program administered by Accessible Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.


How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please contact the artist, Eugenie Lee via

Alternatively please contact the gallery, or (08) 87 23 9566

Are there minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Yes. The project is not suitable for age under 5. Children over 6 will need signatures from a parent's or a guardian's consent form provided at the gallery.

Is this suitable for everyone?

The project may not be suitable for people with severe psychiatric disorders as the experience involves immersive moving images and sensory cognitive manipulations.

This exhibit may need to be altered for you with the following health conditions, please let the artist know upon arrival:

- Epilepsy

- Claustrophobia

- Anxiety disorder and/or history of panic attacks

- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

- Severe skin conditions affecting the hands, including eczema, psoriasis or other skin conditions (e.g. with open wounds)

- Reduced sensation of your hands, such as neuropathy or damage to your nerves, multiple sclerosis.

- Current hand pain or a history of persistent hand pain

- Heart conditions

- Metal implants in the hand

- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you have concerns about any medical condition not detailed above please do not hesitate to ask for more information by contacting the artist any time, or at the gallery prior to the participation.

Is this wheelchair-friendly?

Yes. However in Stage 1 with the Mirage machine this will depend upon their ability to sit upright/lean forward and also the height of their chair arms.

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Riddoch Art Gallery

1 Bay Road

Mount Gambier, SA 5290


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