Carsten Höller’s Latest Work Might Make You Hallucinate

At Dreamverse, the NFT festival that recently took place in New York, the German artist shared a communal artwork of flickering light and haptic vibrations that makes the brain enter a relaxed, dreamy state.

View of “DAY” by Carsten Höller at the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Lisbon. Photography by Attilio Maranzano

Whether a labyrinth of mirrored revolving doors, 130-foot-long giant slides, or a room of spinning upside-down mushrooms, Carsten Höller’s highly sensorial work distorts how we perceive our surroundings. His latest work manipulates the brain entirely: through hallucinations. Called 7.8 (Reduced Reality App) and created with longtime friend Daniel Birnbaum of Acute Art, the four-minute sound, light, and haptic work headlined the NFT art extravaganza Dreamverse, which took place this past week at Terminal 5 in New York City. (The live experience, unfortunately, did not quite go as planned.)

As the name suggests, the artwork is a downloadable app that emits a frequency of 7.83 hertz—the global electromagnetic resonance of the Earth, produced by lightning activity in the upper atmosphere—with flickering light and haptic vibrations. The experience, which feels not unlike your phone freaking out and taking on a life of its own, stimulates brain waves and, after a while, induces hallucinations. Our brainwave frequency falls between four and 12 hertz, and 7.83 is precisely when we enter a relaxed, dreamy state. At Dreamverse, this vibrational frequency evolved into a light display and performance by DJ Alesso.

“Ecstasy” (2019) by Carsten Höller at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

“What this frequency does is interferes with your brainwaves,” Höller told Artnet News. “It makes you high in a certain sense, and it even makes you see things that are not really there. Typically, if you close your eyes and go close to the torch, you start to see color fields—red, blue, green—and everything becomes a kind of light LSD experience.”

Birnbaum, who posted a sample on his Instagram, described the experience as “hyper minimal, it’s not even augmented reality—it’s reduced reality. In a way, it’s almost like nothing, it’s a kind of nothing.” If you missed Dreamverse but still want to experience communal art-induced hallucinogenics, head to the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Lisbon, where Höller is currently staging his solo exhibition “DAY” through February. A public program called “7.8 Hz Meditations” and curated by Mariana Pestana will stage performances that “offer the public a sequence of textual and sound therapeutic compositions to remind them of their radical, ecological interdependence.” 

All Stories