The Horror in Clay, 2012

Installation and sound recording (in collaboration with Toby Phips Lloyd)

The artists Rosalind McLachlan and Toby Phips Lloyd see their work as a research practice, sourcing ideas from science and folklore to make artworks.

For Connecting Principle, an art centred international multi-disciplinary research forum, the two artists focused on the pineal gland. Shaped like a tiny pinecone (hence its name), the pineal gland is located near the centre of the brain. Often referred to as our “third eye”, this gland carries a great deal of spiritual importance to many cultures: to some it is the physiological link between body and soul, to others it is the source of near death experiences or other altered states of consciousness. In science, the pineal gland is responsible for producing the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns.

The Horror in Clay sits somewhere between science and folklore; it asks why do we dream and experience different states of consciousness, and what could be the evolutionary purpose of having a part of the brain that facilitates these otherworldly, mystical experiences?

The visitor listens to a conversation on an old fashioned telephone installed on a desk. They hear a conversation between a scientist and Terence McKenna, an American psychonaut, about the nature of dreams, human consciousness and the concept of the soul.