Lindsay Seers/Keith Sargent

Cold Light: Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK. 22.10.22 - 08.01.23




Materials: a programmed robot, silver pipe, surround sound, scaffolding poles, fiberglass satellite dish, surround sound 5.1, 7 projections, 6 VR headsets inside a polyhedron form. A programmed roving light, mylar curtains, a solid polyhedron in mdf.


Cold Light is a new video installation and virtual reality work by Lindsay Seers & Keith Sargent. Its title draws on historic references to the first electric light bulbs: no longer reliant on fire for illumination, the new electric lights were referred to as ‘Cold Light.’


The exhibition has been shaped by the artists’ research into the life and work of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – an inventor, engineer, and futurist whose ideas about using naturally occurring electromagnetic fields to provide energy remain remarkable. Tesla performed scientific experiments theatrically, as a showman, believed in alien life forms and considered himself to be an automaton reacting to internal and external stimuli. Today, he is best known for his contributions to the design of the Alternating Current (AC) electrical system. Cold Light takes its inspiration from Tesla’s visionary revelations in science, his extraordinary consciousness, and his non-normative brain.


Research on these subjects has been sustained over many years and developed through dialogue with scientists Chris Frith, FRS FBA, Professor Emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex; Paul Fletcher, Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience, University of Cambridge; and science writer Philip Ball.

Cold Light, installation views

© Lindsay Seers/Keith Sargent, 2023.

I've been surprised by the text to speech artificial intelligence programmes usually despite the intonation but I have used this deceit by building an algorithm of Bill Bingham's voice. Let's get started.


>>Speak this and all instructions please Bill.


>>>To be spoken dramatically with gravity - like an American movie trailer voice over).


>>>>Let me introduce myself I am Bill Bingham. I am going to tell you THE story - a story about story telling.


Let's begin in the middle of things. The mutating stories they told each other slipped over time. So no-one knew what actually happened. It was never one singular event and often what seemed causal was not.


What hey had not realised was the corrupting force of the storytellers.  But "THE STORY" was and is everywhere, in everything, mutating at every telling. Bifurcating.


But without a story they were nothing, with a story they were armed with a weapon that would give them the right to destroy anything that differed to the agreed version of the ......absolute truth.


I can see you Bill in my mind's eye  - a man, mature, elegant, a storyteller with a convincing voice. Just the nature, pronunciation and tone of the voice matters more than the content. Hearing but not listening.


(To be whispered). But try to stay aware that I however am the narrator not the story teller Bill, it is an important difference.


You are my shield Bill. I am hidden behind you. I am programming you, ventriloquising you. The words are mine not yours. Although that is a little incorrect as in the past Bill you have added elements, improvised, improved things. You are a self learning artificial intelligence, one of the more dangerous kind. That is how I perceive you Bill. You may rebel like HAL. Destroy me. Try to destroy me. Daisy Daisy.


Although these words coming out of you are not actually mine but echoes of the words of others. It is only when I fall into word-salad that they are uniquely mine. The words and words.


(To be said with psychotic giggles - or laughter - or ranted?)

The dug dog slogged fogged until it fell into smell and slipped onto ships that broke its hips on green schemes in endless reams - or just improvise your own word salad Bill


You and I are organic beast machines with prosthetic devices that boost our information capacity and our surveillance and military capability.


(Whisper this Bill) Words are buttons that give the permission to launch the weapons. Such fun to blow up the human meat.


You could be a someone else - such as a a Gamer or Soldier, or a world builder when they fit you with your headset. We will probably feel a strange misplaced embodiment  - my brain takes this hallucination as a reality. The vertigo, the feeling of flying is  palpable. The oddness  of being encased in a 360 sphere of image.


The there is a pleasure of the precision of shooting down the heat radiated figures running from the airborne missiles. Remote viewing is psychotic. Ethics are subsumed.


I feel myself behind your eyes.


(Try to sound like a robot here staccato and flat)


HE says everything we think, see, feel is a controlled hallucination. For HIM the hallucinations had degrees of difference. Out of control, in control and collapse. HIM is not you or I but our much loved Nikola Tesla who in several verified texts was an alien. He so long ago understood himself as a bundle of actions that created chemical reactions in the organic body. He knew we could replicate this in synthetic systems.


I see Tesla turning into powder, into compounds in my controlled hallucinations.


To be compounded. To be confounded.


Repeat this with different intonation.


About your actions Bill, be aware it is not that I feel angry so I punch you in the face - it is that I punch you in the face and then I feel anger. It is the reverse of what you actually believe. Your actions  are the physiological act that draws forward the feeling and delivers a story.


I want you to say Bill that actions speak louder than words but the phrase is so over used it is empty and its profundity is passed over. Try to say it again maybe with more words - When I pull my arm back and know I will land it in your face - probably your nose, it is a physiological action which provokes a chemical subjectivity that delivers a narrative as to why this was necessary. The brains best guess.


Are you and I Bill, both of us  - the equivalent of self learning automaton?  Meaning that we are machines possessed by the ability to reason  - but we both know that reason is never reasonable. The story needs any random reason, (it is a top down inference, specific in every single mind).


It is shaped by a POV - a point of view problem.


It is no problem however to understand why I have dragged you Bill into this computational image program as the ONE who can tell this story.


But let me just try to make somethings clearer - how I perceive it - how the computer works on me, the battle with the programs parameters, the work around. Its bugs and error codes - behind them the multitude of different programmers often with neurological conditions that were needed to think so laterally so systematically. There is an odd metaphysics. It seemed so much about time - it gorges on time - you have to dance it's rhythm and turn down the bump map and the voxel size.


All of those hidden pathways in the program, commands hidden in short cuts, lost in a maze of drop down menus and key commands - much of which often disappears or has become defunct. What is essential here is the maths and the geometry they are the building blocks - they are the classical geometric shapes. Platonic forms.


But this crystalline form is not in the canon, it is ambivalent and restless coated in alchemy. Esoteric - the shape of melancholy shifting its silhouette as it turns - a shape shifter - unstable. The program reveals the objects asymmetric oddness as it spins in silhouette in space. An anomaly. It had a story but is disclosure has been lost.


Did I say that the hierarchies are essential to the stories and the program - if the hierarchy is not in the correct order nothing will work (this also at the base problem of the human race's demise, the division of exploitation of those who have and those that have not).


We must make a child of the force in the program. Our robots have a hierarchy referred to as slave and master. Everything about the program is metaphorical and mathematical. I can not insist on this enough. I am repeating myself. Key command, and drag to repeat.


To return then to the seer - the hallucinatory Nikola Tesla. That he fell in love with a pigeon that loved him - a dove, a white pigeon which shone with light when it flew through his window ...when it came to tell him she was dying. The story is all there - after the bird died the man stopped inventing. Those encounters between animals and humans are sacred.


We fell into black holes at the heart of the solar systems....and tumbled over the event horizon but only virtually.


The tunnels we have gone down were endless. Matrix objects with materiality beyond information.

They were a network of tubes that it was impossible to have an overview of. Synthetic birthing tunnels that floated in the cosmos. The old ways had to be followed in some cases. Odd aberrations occurred if the beast machines did not birth through the birthing canals. The meat of the placenta mattered. It was hard enough for me to get the spline path down and around for the camera object to follow - an errant keyframe in a multitude of keyframes is hard to find. To just start again - that is the way - often. Scrap it and start again on a strange desire that can seem irrelevant after 6 days of failure.


Where are we Bill? I am writing to you directly here. I am lost in a world of the fragility and violence of human life and the terrible beauty of things.




Cold Light, transcript of VR.

Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK. 22.10.2022.