New Ways of Feeling Ways of Feeling New-CMU News - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Ways of Feeling Ways of Feeling New

Watch the artists demonstrate "SEEK," self-fulfilling prophesy / 20-minute private session offering individuals a clairvoyant reading generated by the misuse of online search engines.

Someone sits in a massage chair with built-in video monitor. A far-away voice talks to them on headset. After a 30 minute session, a vision of their future is generated by the Internet.

Is it art or therapy? Or is it a lesson in invasive technology? Three alumni from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art are creating new experiences under the guise of an elusive institution. 

The Institute for New Feeling (IfNf) — founded by Master of Fine Arts graduates Scott Andrew (A 2013), Agnes Bolt (A 2012) and Nina Sarnelle (A 2012) — is a research clinic committed to the development of new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new.

The Institute's work takes the form of treatment, therapies, retreats and wellness products that acknowledge our contemporary digital age's modes of production, consumption and distribution of goods and services.

"From the outside, our treatments may seem critical or absurd, but the actual experience of going through a treatment has the potential to transcend this frame. Perhaps we live in a moment marked by radical apathy; but IfNf still clings to a bit of optimism."  — IfNf

"In a country where corporations are granted personhood, this 'we' is both protected and powerful," the members of the Institute said. "Anyone can be an Institute. Anyone can construct a belief system; or define a new standard of beauty; or decide what is 'good for us.'"

The Institute presented its latest project, "Furthering Cream," an installation and performance at the opening of "MAXIMUM MINIMUM IN UNUM," at CMU's Miller Gallery.

The exhibit, which is on display through Feb. 28 features emerging artists who are all CMU alumni, whose work explores the reversed equations of "More is Less" and "Less is More."

The Institute's performance provided a demonstration of how Furthering Cream is produced. Three rotating projects from the Institute will be on view through Jan. 31. MAXIMUM MINIMUM IN UNUM is continuing through Feb. 28.

"The performance was only an introduction to our process," members of the Institute said. "We invite guests to return over the course of the exhibition to see how the material builds up and crystallizes. The IfNf cave system provides an environment for Furthering Cream to be aged, harvested and bottled."

Interested in embracing "a contradictory stance on current conditions, where sincerity and criticality are interwoven," the Institute recognizes that "from the outside, our treatments may seem critical or absurd, but the actual experience of going through a treatment has the potential to transcend this frame."

"Perhaps we live in a moment marked by radical apathy; but IfNf still clings to a bit of optimism," the members of the IfNf said. "For example, our SkyMall-style sauna pods look ridiculous, but they also work pretty damn well. And through the intense experience of sitting and sweating with others, most participants admit to having 'felt' something — physically, emotionally or spiritually. We're interested in the ways that dark or playful critique can coexist with genuine sincerity, connection, vulnerability, even belief."

Although the artists formed The Institute for New Feeling as they were leaving school, collaborating with one another while at Carnegie Mellon was a common practice.

"Much of our work was about conjuring intimate scenarios with people we met in public," said Sarnelle of her work with Bolt.

"At the same time, perhaps influenced by CMU's environment, we were working with issues related to technology. We weren't interested in creating tech-heavy work, per se, but in exploring the way that popular, consumer-level technology translates and shapes human experience — using cell phones, iPads, digital cameras and the Internet as mediators between us and people with which we interacted," Bolt said.

"Nina and I came together around a shared interest in creating intensely physical experiences, inspired by time-based experiences that are felt in the body, like amusement park rides," Andrew said.

In addition to their ongoing therapies, the Institute continues to expand the ways in which its founders can connect with people.

"Our next step is to launch a black hat SEO marketing campaign," as well as "creating a series of IfNf research studies, toying with the idea of paid participation as a completely different power dynamic for interactive work."

Their long-term plan is to open a spa in L.A. as a space for research and the creation of new physical experiences.

"We want this to function as a retail environment to house our growing product line, a place to sign up for web-based services like our eFELT subscription, and to access an archive of audio/visual work," the members of the IfNf said. "We have many ideas for new products in development."

Related:


"SEEK" A self-fulfilling prophesy / 20 min private session offering individuals a clairvoyant reading generated by the misuse of online search engines.




"Furthering Cream" The most recent addition to IfNf's growing line of wellness products, the Institute presents an elaborate skincare manufacturing process conflating the natural and artificial to generate a mythology of the "source."