Mark Boyle’s Sensual Laboratory

 

Personnel:
Mark Boyle
Joan Hills
Des Bonner
Cameron Hills

The legend that is Mark Boyle is one that reaches far outside the realms of psychedelic lightshows and continues to this day where Mark and his entire family are still on the cutting edge of Contemporary Art.
Born in Glasgow in 1934, Mark was already producing art in many forms such as paintings, installations and sculptures and had many exhibitions in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.

In 1966 the Son et Lumeniere for Earth, Air, Fire and Water ran at the Cochrane Theatre, London, closely followed by the Son et Lumeniere for Insects, Reptiles and Water Creatures and the Son et Lumeniere for Bodily Fluids and Functions.
These events were ground breaking in respect of projected lighting and consisted of chemical and physical reactions projected onto a screen whilst being surrounded by various taped sounds.
Elements of this lightshow evolved and performances were made at the legendary UFO club in London’s Tottenham Court Road. Later that year he formed the Sensual Laboratory with Joan Hills, who would later become his wife.
In 1967 the first of many collaborations started with The Soft Machine, with shows at the Edinburgh Festival and also in Holland and France. Also in 1967 Liquid Light Environments ran at the UFO throughout the year.
During 1967 Mark invented and patented a machine with a light sensitive screen that could do three colour separation on anything that was projected onto it and turn it into sounds, i.e. one colour would create one type of sound and another colour would create a totally different sound. Unfortunately the Sensual Laboratory did not have the money to develop this invention and the patent lapsed.
More concerts with The Soft Machine followed in Holland and again in France as well as work on the Structure of Dreams at the Arts Lab, London.
1968 took the Sensual Laboratory on tour in the USA and Canada with The Soft Machine and Jimi Hendrix as well as the legendary but controversial production at London’s Roundhouse ‘Bodily Fluids and Functions.
This consisted of a couple copulating on stage whilst being wired up to ECG and EEG which were projected from closed circuit TV onto a huge screen. With heartbeats and brainwaves on display, every second of the experience was shared by the audience.
Another event in 1968 was the Liquid Light Environment produced for the opening of the ICA in London.
The Sensual Laboratory continued producing installations and collaborations with many artists throughout the remainder of the 1960’s.

It goes without saying that the Sensual Laboratory inspired anyone that witnessed their work first hand and you will see from our interviews with other lightshows of the time that they are often cited as being a major influence to their work.

For anyone that is interested in other areas of Mark Boyle’s work, please visit the following URL: http://www.boylefamily.co.uk

 

Thanks to Neil Rice of Optikinetics for help with historical info for this page.

 

 

'The Master' at the controls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified

Sunday, August 18, 2002