The Snow Studies.

A series of studies of snow planned when snow covered the beach at Camber while the Tidal series was being fine-finished in December 1969. The sites for the snow series were selected at random by Cameron Hills (Joan Hills son) who shot six arrows across the dunes. Two of the arrows were lost and two of the sites were damaged during the process, so only the remaining pair of sites were completed. The studies were made to show the surface features, but the snow from each site was gathered and when it had melted was bottled with the idea that it would be reconstituted as snow by passing it, atomised, through liquid nitrogen and then presenting it in a thin, refrigerated compartment behind a transparent cast of the surface form. Unfortunately expense has made this impracticable for the time being.

Notes for Appendix 5
(1) A previous attempt to make a snow study in January 1969 in London was not successful.


Son et Lumiere for Earth, Air, Fire and Water (1)

The presentation of Earth, Air, Fire and Water by the projection of various chemical and physical reactions occurring in special containers in the projectors, with the amplification of the sound of the actual reaction, or tapes of colossal reactions in the same medium or with performed sound using the medium (i.e. rock movement, storm, fire or waves).

This is a rough sketch of a possible performance of limited dimensions. There is no rigid score. The performance depends on whatever materials and equipment are available. These events can be performed by one person sitting alone in his room. If he has a microscope or a projector and a tape recorder so much the better, but no equipment is necessary. At the other end of the scale there is no limit to the amount of equipment that may be used. (2)


other chemical reactions
amplification of sound of the actual reaction, or a tape of the eruption of Vesuvius or an avalanche or a live performance using amplified chemical reactions.


Project movement of air through liquids
Various physical reactions are set in motion so that air passes through a variety of liquids with speeds from gentle to frenetic.
Evaporation etc.
sound of the actual reaction tape of storm, hurricane etc. performed sound (e.g. with compressor)


Burn various types of plastic in the projectors.
amplified sound of fire (actual or recorded)


Project melting ice, convection, boiling water etc.
sound:- sea, rivers, actual sound etc.

Notes for Appendix 6
(1) Originally performed in Liverpool in 1966 Son et Lumiere for Earth, Air, Fire and Water was a concentration of a variety of projected phenomena developed by Mark Boyle and Joan Hills from 1962 onwards. In the early stages experiments were performed for and with friends in Boyle's Studio in Queensgate London. The first public demonstration of the technique was before an invited audience during the event "suddenly Last Supper" in 1964. At the Liverpool performance John Claxton joined Mark and Joan (a collaboration that was to last for several years) and at subsequent performance in Bristol, London (Cochrane Theatre) and U.F.O. (the "Unidentified Flying Object" in Tottenham Court Road, London) the sound was performed by Peter Schmidt. After the Cochrane Theatre show, Mark, Joan and John Claxton formed the 'Sensual Laboratory', and after the performance of Earth, Air, Fire and Water at U.F.O. in 1967, Hoppy (John Hopkins, founder of U.F.O.) invited them to perform regular liquid light environments at U.F.O. Further performances of Earth, Air, Fire and Water took place in Geneva, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin (to the accompaniment of John Cox's exciting water music), at the opening of the new Institute of Contemporary Art, London and many other places. In 1968 the Earth, Air, Fire and Water overture was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London. In 1969 during the ICA Exhibition the Sensual Laboratory made two Earth, Air, Fire and Water environments on film shown on a circular screen. One, in colour, of induced reactions and the other, in black and white, of observed phenomena. From 1967 the Sensual Laboratory began a long collaboration with the Soft Machine (cf. Appendix 13 Perceptual Events).

(2) Accounts:-
"Son et Lumiere for Earth, Air, Fire and Water (1966) consisted mainly of representative chemical and physical reactions projected on to a screen with amplification of the sounds made. (A development from this and earlier performances is the now complex technique for the breath-takingly inventive and beautiful light shows which Boyle has performed both by himself and in collaboration with pop musicians such as the Soft Machine, The Cream and Jimi Hendrix and with the dancer Graziella Martinz.) The brilliance of his light shows is partly due to his skill in the manipulation of climax, contrast and even the repetition, as in musical form, of certain 'themes'.
David Thomson Studio International

"There is more. Two specially constructed dark areas present works by the "Sensual Laboratory". People who saw "The Beard" at the Royal Court will recall Boyle's projections which provided an overture and the accompaniment to Jean Harlow's ecstasy. They are worth seeing by themselves. The scale and the proximity is right, also the fact that the show is continuous so that you can drift away and come back to see what's new. The shapes flow and flicker and flame across the embracing screens: mood and tempo change."
Norbert Lynton (The Guardian)

"Boyle's latest work is another cinematic experience an extremely well-realised camera amplification of natural things, a candle flame, the constant slow movement of water, a column of sand falling and bounding in slow motion repeated four times side by side on a wraparound screen....
The same applies to the wraparound cinema; concentration is taken off the centre of the eye and spreads to the weaker parts of the retina to give a more diffused experience. It is a sudden relief not to stare, but to be made more broadly conscious. Using the ability of film and magnetic tape to isolate and amplify the real. Boyle orchestrates these effects like a ringmaster".
Guy Brett (The Times)

"Entering the exhibition one passes through a dark room in which a film of changing abstract colour is projected onto a giant screen. This is one of the famous "light shows" which Boyle pioneered, and there are two in the exhibition, described in handouts as "continuous light environments."
The results when filmed are incredibly lovely, with continuously changing shapes, colours and harmonies and dramatic changes of mood in the abstract images. The colours have a mesmerising effect.
In the ICA exhibition there is a circular cinema "environment" which Boyle's Sensual Laboratory have four films projected simultaneously onto a wrap-around screen. They feature the elementals. Water, Fire and Earth. One can lie on mattresses on the cinema floor and be lulled by the taped sound of crashing breakers or lapping waves, while surrounded by giant screen patterns of rippling water, writhing flames and light laying on falling sand. There is a grandeur about such phenomena which removes any need for explanations. People just go into the dark rooms and sit and watch, undisturbed by questions of what it's all about."
Robert McDonald (The Scotsman)

"Next, an almost all-round film screen with four projectors showing film of physical reactions in the elements; with sound Air, Fire, Water and Earth. This is most effective, fascinating, refreshing and with interesting physiological reactions."
Michael Shepherd (Sunday Telegraph)


Meticulously selected at random, without the slightest consideration for beauty, utility, edibility, scent, or horticultural interest, we are now able to offer from various random sites and from the Sensual Laboratory's random nurseries in the Hebrides, London, Norfolk and Sussex.

Joan Hills Seeds for a random garden

RANDOM HARVEST. Seeds collected periodically from a series of squares selected with a dart, thrown blindfold into a large scale map, and a square frame thrown down on the spot in such a way that no personal selection, conscious or unconscious, could operate. Series Commenced 1966.

HARVEST FALLOUT. 30 empty seedboxes put out by Joan Hills in the London random nursery on 1st October, 1969 were brought in, one each day throughout October. Any seeds were packeted.

BLOWN SEEDS. A find mesh net was hung vertically in the London random garden and periodically the seeds caught in the mesh, or in the collection trough below, were collected and packeted.

WATERBORNE SEEDS. A net of fine mesh was placed in various (randomly selected) areas of water (lake pond and sea). It was taken up at intervals and examined for seeds Autumn 1969.

NOTTING HILL HARVEST FESTIVAL. Seeds from one of a hundred sites selected at random from the Notting Hill/Shepherds Bush area of London.

URBAN GLEANINGS. Seeds collected following various routes during which Joan Hills would stop at pre-determined intervals and gather a seed from the nearest plant (continuing series).

SEEDSMANS MEDLEY. For this Medley Joan Hills bought one of each packet of seeds stocked by a local seedsman mixed them together and then divided and packeted them.

FROM THE RANDOM NURSERIES. Random selections from the sensual Laboratory's random nurseries in London, Sussex, Norfolk and the Hebrides.

FORTHCOMING Earthprobe: Collections of seeds from each of 1000 sites selected at random from the surface of the earth.

A SEED FOR JOAN'S GARDEN. Members of the public attending the openings of Journey to the surface of the Earth exhibitions will be admitted on production of a seed for Joan's garden. These seeds will be divided randomly and packeted.

1. Seeds maybe planted in sterilised earth in pots or seed boxes or planted out (under glass initially) in beds of sterilised earth.
2. Seeds may be sown on a square site selected at random from any area.
3. Seeds may be scattered at random from the air.
4. Random seeds will be planted on each of the 1000 sites of journey to the surface of the Earth packets of seeds are available in exchange for a contribution to the funds of the Sensual Laboratory. Amount to be chosen at random by donor.


Son et Lumiere for Insects, Reptiles and Water Creatures (1)

1. Select a site at random
2. Remove all the live creatures from the site.
3. Project them onto a screen with slide or micro-projector or examine them, using whatever equipment is available.
4. Amplify the sound made by the insects, etc.

There are a number of possible techniques for selecting the site. They may not be random absolutely but they serve. For example a dart thrown into a map or a computer selection can decide a particular square of earth or water. We can then decide to examine the surface, or to dig down 6 inches or whatever. Or we can decide to use whatever we find under the first large stone in a particular area or whatever you find in a container or a net of particular mesh on being dipped once into the nearest pond. If you don't like these or if they are impractical invent a technique of your own.

Notes for Appendix 8
(1) The programme note from "Sound/Light for Insects and Water Creatures" the opening programme of the Destruction in Art Symposium London 1966 performed by Mark Boyle, John Claxton, Joan Hills and Mike Rose. 1st September 1966 Cochrane Theatre.
Joan Hills, John Claxton and I were working on the beach at Camber one day in summer when I noticed a labyrinth of minute tracks in the sand. At the centre an insect lay on its back. I though, surely even in its death agony this fly could not have created all these tracks. I turned it over with a small stick to see if it was a fly or a wasp and as I did so a number of smaller insects scuttled out of the corpse.
I don't think I'm specially interested in 'destruction in art'. I'm interested in destruction as an aspect of everything. The intimations of violence and futility which figure so largely in the destruction movement attract my curiosity, but no more than, say pacifism, or the euphoria at a Conservative Party conference.
Things are created and survive only by the destruction of other things. In this sense, materially or formally, all art is destructive. When Ortiz destroys a chair he is destroying an object which is the record and trace of the ritual destruction of a tree. And I feel that my life and death are neither more nor less futile than the life and death of that tree or that fly ....... we are going to take the opportunity provided in this theatre to indulge ourselves by watching and sharing with anyone who cares to stay Amoebas, Hydras, Daphnes Euglenas, Parameciums, Cyclops, Planarias, various larvae, wasps, sperm and anything else we find.
Originally we meant to go on all night, if the amoeba should decide to perform the ultimate act of auto-destruction, reproducing by splitting its self in two, or if we get particularly involved with any part of the presentation we may well watch it until the theatre closes continuing the rest of the presentation some other time, aware that whether we watch or not the process of destruction/creation continues everywhere in our universe and in ourselves.


Son et Lumiere for Bodily Fluids and Functions (1), (4).


1. Catarrh Coughing up / Contact mike on throat / Examine with microscope dyes
2. Snot Blow nose etc. / Contact mike on nose / Examine with microscope dyes
3. Saliva Kiss to arouse saliva possibly eat / Contact mike in mouths of kissers or on throat if eating / Examine with microscope dyes separate starch etc.
4. Earwax / Extract / Melt and examine
5. Tears / Extract Tape - children crying adults howling / Crystallise tears in microprojector
6. Urine Piss in can / Contact mike on can / Sugar test on urine
7. Sweat / Exercise furiously / Breathing and heart beat Examine with microscope dyes
8. Blood / Extract with hypodermic / Loud breathing and heartbeats / Examine with microprojector
9. Sperm Extract by copulation (2) or masturbation / Attach electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram / Televise oscilloscopes of equipment, project using T.V. projector Maybe silence, maybe climactic heart and breathing sounds / Project live sperm in microprojector
10. Gastric Juices Swallow sponge on the end of a string Pull up / Contact mike on stomach / Examine with microprojector

11. Vomit Take emetic / Contact mike on stomach and throat / Examine with microprojector

1. I think moral shock tends to be a barrier to perception. It is therefore perhaps advisable to leave out any sections that might cause moral shock to the particular audience.
2. The entire piece may be performed with the continuous rhythm of breathing and heartbeats.
3. Obviously this piece is another that may be performed by one or two people alone, or, it is usually performed in concert halls and theatres, or as an environmental piece with a circular screen.

Notes on Appendix 9
(1)This event was first performed at Liverpool in 1966 and subsequently at Bristol, London (Cochrane Theatre) and at the Roundhouse.

(2) In the Roundhouse production the performance area was surrounded by an enormous white screen. The reacting fluids were projected onto this one after the other.

In the Sperm sequence a couple wired up to ECG and EEG celebrated intercourse, while the oscilloscopes of the ECG and EGG were televised on closed circuit television and projected with an Eidafor TV projector on to a large screen behind the couple. Thus, their heartbeats and brainwaves were instantly visible and every excitement and tension was immediately revealed. The man and the girl had never met before. Describing the event in a lecture at Glasgow Art School Mark Boyle said, "Everyone that was there seemed to find the experience very moving. The dirt and the mystique, the secretness and the sacredness were washed away. For me, provided the participants are free, all sexual manifestations are marvellous and from that moment on I knew that it doesn't matter whether people are guilty or lascivious or pure or perverse or promiscuous the mechanism that drives them is unbelievably complex and ecstatically beautiful."

(3) In the Bristol performance tears were gathered with great difficulty and were examined in a microprojector for the first time and to everyone's amazement they crystallised before their eyes on the screen.

(4) Public reaction to this event included:
A Sick Performance
"The extraction of bodily fluids and the amplification of the sounds of their production on the stage of Bristol's Art Centre last night was a nauseous experience for the participants and the audience.
Mark Boyle and a production team gave a clinical performance that stripped the human frame of all dignity.
In his own words it was a contrivance. In this critic's opinion it was an insult to civilised man, and those who left the theatre in disgust were more to be admired than those who might pretend that it had any association with art. Bristol Evening News.

"He practices an openness of response so lacking in self-consciousness (or perhaps so conscious of the need to preserve unself-consciousness - we are all human) that it is capable on occasion of shocking the unsophisticate and embarrassing the sophisticate. I am not talking primarily of the kind of reactions aroused by performances of the 1966 Son et Lumiere for bodily fluids and functions (microprojector images of specimens as per title, necessarily including such items as nose-snot, sperm and vomit - disturbing less in themselves than in the fact that they were supplied by the presenter of the performance)."
David Thomson (Studio International)

"Nearby, yet another kind of realism: realism ex machina. An electroencephalogram of a woman "celebrating intercourse" (the word "celebrating" somehow does more for me than staring at the squiggles, but never mind)."
Norbert Lynton Guardian.


Body Work (1)
1. When the audience arrives the performer is lying on the table.
2. A member of the audience is blindfolded
3. A photograph is displayed of the naked body of the performer showing his body from the front, the back, both sides, from above and from below.
4. The blindfolded member of the audience is invited to throw a dart at the unknown target (i.e. the photograph).
5. When the dart strikes the figure in the photograph the corresponding part of the body of the performer is exactly located.
6. Photographs, X-rays, sound recordings, and electricity readings are made of the spot.
7. A square millimetre of skin is removed from the spot. It is examined in a micro projector.
8. Any blood is examined in the micro-projector.

Notes for Appendix 10
(1) First performed at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1969.


Taste/Sight Event (1)
1. A plate of white food, e.g. rice, ice cream, potato, is displayed in an alcove in a dark room.
2. A colour slide of a different tasting food is projected on to the food via a mirror angled at 45.
3. The public are invited to eat. (2)


Smell/Taste Event
1. A strong food or drink aroma (e.g. coffee beans scattered on a hot plate) is allowed to drift through the darkened room in which the public are seated.
2. A different food or drink is served to the public. (3)

Notes on Appendices 11 & 12
(1) In these events Mark Boyle and Joan Hills were concerned with synaethesia (the way separate senses overlap and inter-react). They were first performed (not very successfully) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1969.

(2) In a lecture at Edinburgh Art College Mark Boyle admitted that their initial concept of this piece had been too crude. He said, "We discovered if you project fish and chips on to vanilla ice cream nobody is fooled. But when the texture is the same and only the flavour is different you create a moment of hesitation.

(3) In the 1969 performance we used coffee beans on a hot plate and served hot chocolate and tea to an audience in the liquid light environment. Nobody thought it was coffee but most people were not really sure what it was. This may have been caused by the quality of the tea and the chocolate but in fact the senses of taste and smell are closely inter-related.


Sigh/Sound Events
In 1967 the Sensual Laboratory joined forces with an experimental music group called the Soft Machine and worked and toured extensively with them. (1) The sensual laboratory projected their liquid light environment around the Soft Machine as they played. Although the light environment was not in any way synchronised with the music the audience were invariably convinced that they were synchronised. As the light environment consisted of chemical and physical reactions with no manipulation or interference from the performers the only possibility of genuine synchronisation would be that sound waves might interfere with the reaction or that the group were influenced by the lights. However, films of the light performance run with tapes of the Soft Machine invariably produce the same phenomena. In a lecture at Glasgow School of Art, Boyle described this synaesthetic process as "an electrical oscillation forcing two disparate sensary experiences to coincide causing excitement, satisfaction, pleasure." (2), (3).

The Soft Machine in the liquid light environment of the Sensual Laboratory. When asked during a lecture why he spent so much time with the Soft Machine, Boyle replied, "Whenever I get asked that I know that this person has never heard the Soft Machine live. Its acetylene music. No need for explanations."

Notes on Appendix 13
(1) The Soft Machine and the Sensual Laboratory gave numerous concerts in England and Europe including the Concertebouw in Amsterdam, the Palais des Sports, Paris and Olympia, London. In 1968 the Sensual Laboratory toured America and Canada with the Soft Machine and Jimi Hendrix Experience. The synaesthetic phenomenon was pronounced in a number of TV performances.

(2) Public reactions included the following:
"Everyone with a serious concern for the stature of art and its sense of direction should give time and thought to Mark Boyle's multi-media exhibition Journey to the Surface of the Earth at the I.C.A. The exhibition starts with a darkened area where slides of liquids in movement (by the Sensual Laboratory of Son et Lumiere for Earth, Air, Water and Fire) make patterns extraordinarily similar to Matisse's cut papers, and the accompanying music is often marvellously matched."
Michael Shepherd (Sunday Telegraph)

"A tape of Shepherds Bush traffic cuts into the ripple film as well as a Soft Machine tape - after a while they both seemed as if they were made for the film."
Rolling Stone, Colin Moorcroft