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Artist Francisco Camacho Herrera’s projects are highly participatory and frequently operate as spaces of social activism. Often political in nature, these works investigate social reality and, through them, explore potential futures.
The multimedia installation Lucid Dream (2019) revives the forgotten art of alchemy, and takes a speculative approach to alchemical symbols and the philosopher’s stone, a “primary pure material” that lies at the heart of the alchemical pursuits of resurrection, immortality, and metaphysical truths. The installation presents a real-time video game environment, within which viewers explore the seven stages of alchemical transformation through old illustrations. The title and the shared environment function as an analogy to the “collective unconscious,” directly referencing psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung’s writings on alchemic symbols— which, as Jung theorized, evoke mythological images of immortality in the human psyche. Also highlighted is the belief that the philosopher’s stone must undergo a stage called “nigredo” (“blackness”) to be produced, during which the material “dies” to be reborn into a higher element. The work provides potent, multi-layered metaphors that encourage viewers to meditate on various subjects. Alchemists and Jung regarded the alchemic symbols and the philosopher’s stone, as a technical object, as portals to metaphysical space, demonstrating a strong bond between technology and mythology/cosmology.
The collective dream space gives viewers an opportunity to reexamine Jung’s investigation into the shared, immortal aspects of humanity. And, lastly, to contemplate the nigredo stage, necessitating the acceptance of a “material death” as a prerequisite for transcendence or “immortality”—this functions as a telling allegory.