Becoming Octopus Meditations :: 2020

Becoming Octopus Meditations promo 2020
running time: 2 minutes 34 seconds

Becoming Octopus Meditations in This Is A Not-Me at iMT Gallery

In recent years 0D has been increasingly influenced by octopus consciousness, seeing it as a template for addressing our paucity of imagination towards forging different futures. Maggie Roberts of 0D’s major solo shows in 2018-2019 (glimmer breach at iMT Gallery London and Uncanny Valley, Difficult Kin at Aspex Gallery Portsmouth) explored our relationship with nonhuman consciousness (whether organic octopoid or synthetic AI). The Becoming Octopus Meditations were developed by her as part of iMT Gallery’s This Is A Not-Me online exhibition curated by Mark Jackson (with ACE Emergency Covid funding for the Arts).

Becoming Octopus is an 8 session guided meditation experience (running over 8 weeks), whose aim is to transport the meditator into the body, sensory attributes and liquid environment of a Common Octopus. This involves prioritising the senses of touch and taste; processing reality with 8 arms and a central processing unit simultaneously; flowing the outside through the insides and camouflaging the body to become the ground using an array of colour effects and protean skin textures. The experience will combine meditation techniques, communications with an octopus and expanding human perception to engage with multidimensional being – all in response to the current uncertainty and extended temporality we find ourselves in.

Issues explored through this project include reference to 0rphan Drift imaginings with Ranu Mukherjee around what kinds of experience, bodies, perception and connection are revealed in the process of immersing in the octopus, and the ongoing 0rphan Drift collaboration with technological research agency Etic Lab around what it means to communicate with an alien intelligence and how to address human exceptionalism’s limited understanding of ourselves in relation to other kinds of life. The invitation here is to explore octopus consciousness as aligned to a world that undermines the hierarchical and divisive agendas of corporate capitalism and might offer an alternative evolutionary path for Machine Learning.

Each of the 8 sessions (reflecting the 8 arms of an octopus) last around 10 minutes. Each week offers a meditation guided by the artist’s voice and an audiovisual experience. If that feels too busy you could watch through once and then listen again with eyes closed. Additional material released during Not A Me’s exhibition timeframe include video clips and a hash tag swarm.

The meditations were released to a Whatsapp group (where participants could respond with feedback at the end of the series) and streamed thereafter on imtTV on Instagram and Youtube, responding to the potential for a more intimate relationship between artist and audience, in part inspired by the Deepak Chopra online Meditation dissemination tactics.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Maggie was in South Africa working closely with an interspecies communicator and snorkeling in the rich coastal kelp forests around Capetown to develop the series. This project was in part a response to the solitary and anxious experience of lockdown, aiming to share a positive healing experience with a growing online community of people wanting to change the course of our eco-catastrophic, socio-economically unequal and anthropocentric present. It has also been an opportunity for focused collaboration on experiments with Lidar scan, visual coding and Blender animation to imagine into the experience and perception of the 9 brained octopus.

This above is a short promo and scene setter for the Becoming Octopus Meditations. Maggie writes: ‘I’ve been researching and imagining into the Common Octopus for a few years now, individually and as 0rphan Drift. The octopus presents a challenge to how we think about consciousness, other kinds of life, embodiment and the unknown. That’s for starters. Snorkeling in kelp forests, I’m seeing my first wild octopuses and they are the most alien, fluid and beautiful entities I have so far encountered above or below’.

The Meditations


Thanks so much for joining us for this experiment in becoming an octopus. There’ll be a meditation launching via iMT Gallery’s Youtube TV channel every Tuesday evening at 6pm UK time…

Meditation 1

Hi Everyone,
As we emerge from a strange fearful time into one of radical uncertainty, we are learning to embrace the unknown and build new kinds of irl and…

Meditation 2

Hi everyone,
Time to immerse the imagination in a 9 brained distributed consciousness with seeing skin again! Some practitioners of shapeshifting think that by shifting…

Meditation 3

Hi everyone,
The octopuses hope you are beginning to access a more tactile awareness and distributed consciousness. Look to these as tools for changing how our species…

Meditation 4

Hi Everyone,
I hope you’re feeling a bit more distributed and multi-sense aware than a few weeks ago! Since we last streamed a meditation, I’ve seen a beautiful small…

Meditation 5

Hi Everyone,
I hope you’ve had a good week. Apologies for the blurry eyes and small human presence in Meditation 5! My immersion in these meditations…

Meditation 6

Hi Everyone,
This has been a hard one in some ways – it’s the one in which I wanted to tackle how we treat each other and other kinds of life, particularly in the western…

Meditation 7

Hi Everyone,
Making and sharing these sessions has been what’s framed the weeks over the last few months – and given solidity to an otherwise Covid-elastic experience of time…

Meditation 8

Hi everyone,
In this final meditation in the Becoming Octopus series, the aesthetic is predominantly VFX because it’s from the point of view of a mostly artificial intelligence…