Helga Griffiths: From an Archeology of the Senses to an Animated Flight over the Glacial Landscape of the Artist’s Brain


Helga Griffiths has been working for over 20 years on the integration of various sensory stimuli into her multi-sense installations. With reference to several practical examples (one of which ‒ the animated video Brainscape ‒ will be shown during the conference), she illustrates some of the advantages, but also some of the difficulties that she has encountered in this approach. A successful experience space as she terms it, enables the percipient to immerse him- or herself in a multi-dimensional sensory space and experience memories, emotions and ideas that originate from, but at the same time are not necessarily identical to, the memories, emotions and ideas of the artist. Typical of Griffiths’ work is her technique of taking sensory information received through one sense (e.g. sight or sound) and transforming it into another, such as odor, in order to communicate with the percipient at a more direct, intuitive level and enable the sensory immersion experience to transcend conventional boundaries of perception.

Helga Griffiths is a Multi-Sense-Artist working at the intersection of science and art. She holds a B.F.A. from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and from 1992–1994 completed her postgraduate studies at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. In 1994 she continued with further
studies in New Media at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. She received several awards such as the first prize at “Kunst auf Zeit” in Graz, an “Honorable Mention” at the International Biennale of Paper Art in Düren, the “Lichtenberg”- Award (all in 1998), and the first prize at “LichtRouten”- festival in Lüdenscheid in 2003. She received grants for artist residencies at Cité Internationale des Arts Paris in 2001 and an NEA grant at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Puerto Rico in 2004. Her work is in permanent collections such as the TBA TV Station in Tokyo, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, or the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum
in Düren, Germany. She has exhibited her multi-sense-installations at several biennials such as Cairo Biennale, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Japan, Havanna Biennial, and Seoul International Media Art Biennale. Her work has been shown in international museum exhibitions like the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn; Artificial Light in Art Centre, Eindhoven; Kunsthalle Kiel, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo; Upper Austrian Culture Quarter, Linz, and at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.