Metaphysical Longings

A2.Metaphysical Longings

Metaphysical Longings seeks to explore how thought is ‘felt’. This ongoing artwork takes place on a 17m x 7m handmade mat in different locations and uses forms of guided visualization known as psychic sleep.

Metaphysical Longings II, 2010

Invisible, curated by Oliver Dowling, John Graham and Margaret O’ Brien.
Special Thanks to Cormac Browne, David McGinn and Sean O’ Sullivan


A1. Metaphysical Longings

Metaphysical Longings III, 2011

Galerie Sint-Lukas, Hogeschool Sint-Lukas Brussels, Belgium

Metaphysical Longings IV, 2011

Live@8, Bar 8 and Galway City Arts Centre, Galway
Curated by Ruby Wallis
Special thanks to Cormac Browne

Metaphysical Longings V, 2011

Portrait of a Space, Clonlea Studios, Dublin
Curated by Terrese Gillespie and Rose Lejeune

Special thanks to Anne Kelly

Metaphysical Longings VI, 2014

Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow

Metaphysical Longings VII,  2014

TNUA (Taiwan National University of Art), Taipei
Translated by Marcus Chang
Read by Chen Hsin






Metaphysical Longings, 2006

Pallas Heights, Dublin 1

Chairs Carousel 3image

Metaphysical Longings was first conceived in order to create a site-specific installation for Pallas Heights prior to its demolition. (Pallas Heights was located in five disused flats on the fourth floor of a social housing complex in Dublin inner city). The precarious nature of this building that would soon cease to exist provided an apposite site to develop my exploration of liminality in a more direct and extensive manner. Co-opting forms of guided visualisation associated with Yoga Nidra, Metaphysical Longings sought to explore what others might think having experienced a trance-like liminal state.

Following this event drawings were produced by the participants in response to the psychic sleep session. Slides were taken of the drawings and projected on a screen for the duration of the exhibition following the event.

The room where these slides were displayed was inaccessible, piles of chairs filled the room blocking the doorway. In a separate room, the blankets remained laid out on the floor from the previous psychic sleep session. Having undertaken this project my interest shifted in relation to the experiential capacity of the artwork. I realised that rather than the activity of producing an exhibition (in this case through a process of collating images that attempt to document an experiential process) my concerns lay in exploring processes of mobilizing an exchange of thought that had qualities of intimacy and criticality. The first Metaphysical Longings can be identified as marking a point of departure for my concerns as an artist. This has informed my current research interests surrounding how new formations of thought might be initiated through affect, collectivity and imagination.

Since 2006 Metaphysical Longings has developed, using a technique of guided visualization in its staging in its ambition to enact an other space and explore how philosophical ideas might be implicated and raised on an experiential and extratextual level. The final iteration of Metaphysical Longings VII was developed and enacted in the sculpture yard at  TNUA, Taiwan National University of the Arts as part of the Taipei Biennial, 7th  November 2014. Instead of using the large mat, nineteen chairs found in the sculpture studio were positioned in pairs surrounding a laptop computer.  The voice of a woman speaking Chinese is transmitted from a large speaker that is positioned beside the computer. The first section of the script reads:

“It is time to begin

Firstly, I would like to give some insight into how we are going to spend the next ten minutes- – –

Together we will explore the possibility of an alternate temporality
– However I do not want to carry out this exploration through – theory
– – – I’m not so sharp on theory — –

I thought it more appropriate to conduct this experimental exploration
of space and time on an experiential level – – – together.
Over the next ten minutes we will create an alternate temporality – – an other space, so to speak.

– – — now because we have limited time it is important that each and every one of you remain silent and listen attentively – –
– – I anticipate by performing this experiment together we may explore new levels of awareness through which we can transform this space – – – – moving from this temporal space – the here and now – – to an other space – –
But – you must concentrate on my voice and follow my instructions – each of you – – Together – – –

In order to carve out an alternate temporality. . . it is essential to create the right the conditions

– – – we must create these conditions together.”

Download Catalogue Essay, Declan Long (PDF)
Pallas Heights 2003-2006
ISBN 978-0-9554819-0-1
Supported by The Arts Council special projects and Dublin City Council