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This article was published in October 2013. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Art show poses seizure risk

7 Oct 2013

An art installation using strobe lighting has caused controversy in Pittsburgh, US. Several people have had to be treated for seizure-like symptoms – prompting the exhibition to be closed altogether

The installation was created by a Chicago-based Austrian artist, Kurt Hentschlager. His work involves ‘time-based media’, meaning that it uses moving images and sound. His high-profile works include an audiovisual piece included in the UK Summer Olympics’ cultural programme.

Kurt’s latest work is called ‘Zee’ and has been shown at Pittsburgh’s 943 Gallery. It is described as “intense stroboscopic light in combination with thick artificial fog, resulting in a loss of spatial orientation”. Because of the powerful lighting effects, only over-18s were permitted inside the installation.

spoptlight and artificial fogWarnings were given that people with photosensitive epilepsy should not see the installation. However, as if often the case with these situations, such warnings are only useful if you know you have photosensitive epilepsy.

Since the installation opened on 27 September, three people have reported feeling ill with ‘seizure-like symptoms’. Before the installation arrived at the 943 Gallery, it had previously been shown at two other local galleries. A spokesperson for Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has now admitted that people had already experienced seizures at those galleries as well.

Zee has now been closed as a direct result of these seizure-like responses. According to news reports from the BBC, changes might be made to the installation to prevent further similar responses. However, it is still unclear as to whether Zee will reopen at all.

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