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Finding Prana

Finding Prana

Helen Collard / UK

Finding Prana is a bio-art work that employs the yogic concept of prana (breath or life-force) and the practice of pranayama (regulation of breath) to bring awareness to our co-existence in air and breathing as our technology of being. Yoga practitioners make extraordinary claims concerning the value of the conscious observation and control of breath.

Breathing here, is not just a gross bodily function segregated away from the mind and soul; breathing is our material of time and the producer of consciousness. In collaboration with Dr Philippa Jackson at Northumbria University’s Brain, Performance, and Nutrition Research Centre (BPNRC) this interdisciplinary bio-art work employs the neuroimaging technology fNIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) to take real-time brain-state data during a live pranayama performance. fNIRS is recording the changing levels of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin levels in each hemisphere of the brain.

The data is sonified, turned to vibrations in air, in real-time, creating a re-appropriated system for sound creation controlled by the practitioners moving and suspended breath. This bio-art performance acts to elicit an Irigarian remembering of our most essential element in the search for consciousness, unity and peace that is thought to be found in the practices and imaginaire of prana.