The Institute for New Feeling

The Institute for New Feeling (IfNf) is an art collective led by Scott Andrew, Agnes Bolt and Nina Sarnelle, dedicated to the development of new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new. IfNf creates artwork in the form of treatments, therapies, retreats, audiovisual meditations, research studies and wellness products. 

Artist Statement:
Our work challenges conventional health and beauty "wisdom" and presents a playful—and often non-functional—approach to medical, spiritual and corporate authority. IfNf projects often reveal the capitalist basis of authoritative voices in wellness, as well as the way that what is "good for us" shifts across time and culture. 

Current projects include: 
seek – an appointment-only private session installed at Recess NY for June 2015. This 30-min clairvoyant reading uses the internet as a source of chance operations to divine insight about a participant, and results in a uniquely generated video loop  that projects a vision of their future. 
*with recent coverage from Art F City and Art in America!

Felt Book – a collection of home remedies, treatments and instructionals from over 60 invited artists, inspired by the structure of Fluxus scores, youtube tutorials and eHow articles. This project exists as a yearlong email subscription, a touring exhibition of video, text and sculptural work, and a complete online publication to be released in 2016. Past exhibitions include SPACES Cleveland, KCHUNG radio in Los Angeles; upcoming exhibitions in July include Vox Populi in Philadelphia, SEDIMENT in Richmond, the Luminary in St. Louis, the Cave in Detroit and more coming soon. 
IfNf Products - a new line of wellness products currently at various stages of prototyping and production. These include a sculpted rock plug-in air freshener that diffuses odorless Oxytocin into the air, edible ear plugs made from artisan-rolled Japanese mochi, an adhesive moleskin shoe insert that applies pressure-point therapy to the foot while walking, and an inflatable airline neck pillow cast in cement. 

IfNf Products - a new line of wellness products currently at various stages of prototyping and production. These include a sculpted rock plug-in air freshener that diffuses odorless Oxytocin into the air, edible ear plugs made from artisan-rolled Japanese mochi, an adhesive moleskin shoe insert that applies pressure-point therapy to the foot while walking, and an inflatable airline neck pillow cast in cement.

group – a two-person stage performance using 90 minutes of original music and projected video. Drawing upon conventions of electronic music concerts, spiritual rituals, yoga classes, team-building exercises, self-help seminars and group therapy, this immersive audiovisual experience leads participants through a series of activities designed to generate intimacy, physicality and energetic connection between them. The audience will participate in karaoke chanting, breathing exercises, guided meditation, aerobic routines and more as they progress through our 7 platforms:  AGREE - VOICE - CONTACT - DIGEST - ACT - BREATHE - RELEASE 

RPM – a series of energy vortexes installed in 5 locations around the city of Pittsburgh, PA for Open Engagement 2015 in collaboration with the Drift.

VIDEO  Here are a few recent videos:
1 min promo edit of group (see above for details), 2013-ongoing

2 min documentation of the Cloud, a 3-course gastronomical experience made of culinary foams
performed at Thank You For Coming (LA), 2013

Product advertisements—(all 2014)




Neck Pillow:

Virtual spa rooms created as projected retail environments to display our wellness products, 2014

Q&A with The Institute for New Feeling
by Sidney Mullis

How did Institute for New Feeling begin? What motivated its creation?
The Institute for New Feeling started in 2012. Agnes, Scott and Nina had worked together on a handful of projects in different permutations. We shared an interest in creating intimate--and often physical--experiences for people, and were also frequently placing our work in unconventional contexts (gas station, strip mall, casino, etc.). IfNf was a way for us to organize all of this work under a single project and to begin articulating a cohesive line of research going forward. In particular, we're thinking of our future wellness center/spa as an art venue that can house all kinds of explorations into physical, emotional, spiritual "feeling," while also reflecting on the way that these industries function already in the world. 

With its many treatments, products, free online meditations, and more, what is the Institute’s ultimate goal?
As an institution philosophy, we embrace contradiction and the meeting point between sincere engagement and critical/playful reflection. For this reason, our goals within any given project are typically two-fold: 

1. We create an unconventional (even non-functional or absurd) treatment/product  that allows participants to reflect on similar treatments/products that exist in the world and the way they are marketed and disseminated.

2. Through physical experience, this treatment/product becomes effective and meaningful, though perhaps not in the way one had originally expected.

Does the Institute have a target audience?
Not really. We are happy to engage a contemporary art audience in conventional art institutions like museums and galleries. However, because the subject matter and processes we utilize don't require any particular prior understanding of art or aesthetics, our work can become just as valuable to others outside of the art world. We like to keep it open in that way. 

Is it important that this Institute be conceived, strictly, as art?
Not necessarily. We like to place our work at an intersection between art and wellness--neither strictly art nor strictly wellness. If people think of it as "just" art, they may not be open to the possibility that it could actually work as a treatment, therapy or product. On the other hand, we're not interested in simply adding to the abundance of wellness products and healing techniques that exist in our everyday lives. Our interest lies in the gray area between these two worlds.

To me, there is a beautiful intersection of art and life that the Institute promotes in order to fully receive its products and services. Could you discuss this intersection and how it functions within the Institute?
In addition to things mentioned above, our ultimate goal is to open a storefront spa in Los Angeles that functions as an art venue to house our treatments, therapies, retreats, products, etc. At this point we would like to begin collaborating with other artists to have them create and install new treatments at the spa. This venue would definitely function inside the art world by advertising events and shows. But the signage and storefront would not present itself with art-specific language, allowing passersby to approach it in an open-ended way. 

With the Felt Book, the Institute collaborated with 60+ outside artists. They were asked to interpret the Institute’s mission of “new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new” and provide home remedies. What lead the Institute to publish this book with many outside voices/influences? How were these artists chosen?
Our future goals involve working with other artists in order to create a community around the type of experiential performance in which we are interested. The Felt Book is our first step in that direction. While we don't have the resources to start commissioning projects, this publication has allowed us to reach out to artists we respect all over the world and invite them to consider our core interests. When we get the storefront space running, we'll use our Felt Book relationships as a starting point for finding artists we want to work with on larger projects. 

The goal of this publication is to explore the potential of instructions as private interactive experiences for one person (to use wellness language, "remedies"). Many of the treatments in the Felt Book address modern digital life, so they seem especially appropriate for the e-book format. As a whole, they feel like remedies for contemporary existence, designed to be enacted alone in front of a computer screen. 

In the Seek appointments and Mouth-to-Mouth treatments provided by the Institute, technology, such as cell phones and Google search, facilitates these processes. Could you talk about the importance of integrating these technologies for forming new ways of feeling?
Our investigation of "new feeling" is very open and exploratory. However, we often end up considering the ways that felt, human experience, is changing with the development and proliferation of new technology.  

The Institute circumvents the establishment of various “spiritual, medical, and corporate authorities” by claiming its own jurisdiction to provide health and beauty methods, which results in a feedback loop of one attempting to out-do another. What are your thoughts on power structures and how are they implemented within the establishment of the Institute?
By adopting a faux-corporate framework of our own, we intend to problematize and question these authoritative voices. As I mentioned before, our perspective is typically two fold: this is the critical--even satirical--perspective. From a more sincere/optimistic perspective, we are interested in the notion that artists with no authoritative medical or spiritual training might be able to develop meaningful new treatments through open experimentation. The takeaway here being that perhaps all individuals should be actively questioning and inventing what is "good" for them. 

What does the Institute for New Feeling think is “good for us?”
We have no idea. We do question the authority of the medical industry, corporate wellness/beauty, religious leaders, traditional healing, new age practitioners, etc. Our goal is not to provide a definitive answer but rather a rigorous and playful ongoing line of inquiry that everyone can engage in. 

What is the trajectory of the Institute? Where do you see it in the future?
IfNf spa LA!!!! For the past few years, we've been invited to install temporary treatments and events at many art venues across the country and hope to continue.

Is there any thing you would like to mention or add?
Next up is our cross country Felt Book tour in July. Sign up for eFELT to receive a weekly Felt Book project by email and also updates about our upcoming tour stops, including: 

Recess (NY)
Vox Populi (Phila)
SEDIMENT (Richmond)
Skylab (Columbus)
the Luminary (St. Louis) 
The White Page (Minneapolis)
Denver, Portland, San Francisco & LA TBA 

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your work and talk with us!