Hypnosis & Belief

Some of you may remember a few years ago we were involved in the Con Art exhibition at Sheffield’s Site Gallery, including hosting exhibits here in The Lounge. We were pleased to hear that the Site Gallery is running a series of events all about ‘Magic and Technology’ this winter.

Tonight’s session (Thursday 8 November) is on Hypnosis and Belief with Sinead McDonald, Mark Pilkington and Nick Davies.

Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer  developed the “Universal Fluid” idea in the 18th Century. He was famous for using steel rods to cure patients, coining the term “Animal Magnetism”. A 1784 debunking panel said the cures were due to the imagination not to magnetism, but as Charles d’Eslon, a pupil of Mesmer said: “If the medicine of imagination is best, why should we not practice the medicine of imagination”.

Multimedia artist Sinead McDonald, hypnotherapist Nick Davies and editor/author Mark Pilkington come together for this vibrant evening of combined talks, performances and workshops. This event will be an interactive exploration of the potential of the unconscious mind, taking a look to the past to see how popular science has always gone hand-in-hand with belief. Does hypnosis work? How much have we really moved on from the historic ‘medicines of the imagination’?

Sinead McDonald will discuss how physical trauma has affected her perception and practice,  hypnotist Nick Davies will be doing some ‘rubber hand illusion’ type demos and talking about re-programming the brain, with Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor Press talking about weird medical devices past and present.

Strange Attractor Press, incidentally, recently published the fascinating book Lost Envoy: The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare, edited by Jonathan Allen, co-curator of Con Art and an associate curator at The Magic Circle Museum, London.

This is one of a series of magic-related events. I’m particularly looking forward to Magic, Dance and Memory on Thursday 20 December:

Imagination is the door to identity. At least, that’s according to extraordinary scientist-artist performer team Nicola Clayton and Clive Wilkins. Over the course of this quirky and interactive evening, the pair will reveal why memory has evolved in the way that it has, incorporating magic, dance and scientific evidence. Nicky’s studies into animal behaviour shine light on the ways we think both with and without words, while artist and magician Clive questions aspects of consciousness, perception and reality through his myriad creative outputs. This lively event will incorporate live tango dancing, conjuring and plenty of opportunities for participation from you!

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