holy ghost

January 2017

A spiritual installation, Holy Ghost is intended to challenge visitors to explore their preconceptions about belief systems by facilitating interpersonal connection. 

Reviewed by Velvet Glove


Holy Ghost is a spiritual installation occupying a space which is an amalgam of the houses of prayer common to the three major monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. One element is lifted from each of these three types of prayer spaces and combined to create the environment of Holy Ghost - kneeling stools from a catholic church, the ner tamid (everlasting light) from a synagogue and a recording of the islamic call to prayer. At the confluence of this environment is a pool of oil and two sensors foreign to any type of religious practice.

Religion is overwhelmingly positive and constructive for those who practice, regardless of the belief system they choose or grew up in. To most believers, a religious lifestyle affords two crucial things, the feeling of community and a platform for spiritual experience. However, throughout the course of history and still very much so today religious institutions tend to foster strong yet insular communities, which can serve to be as divisive as they are unifying. Many feel the need to defend their ideals, to crusade, to convert, to lash out at the ‘others’ who pray wrong. The purpose of this piece is to step back from the constructs of religion and examine both community and spirituality by providing a platform to connect to another human being sitting in front of you.  

Two people walk into Holy Ghost, approach the spotlit centerpiece, kneel on the stools, and hold the sensor between their palms. As they face each other the pool of oil begins to breathe, moving, pulsing and generating a deep rumbling. Custom software reads the skin resistance of each person (one of the components of a lie detector test and an indicator of emotion and mood) and generates patterns in the oil based on each person’s state. These two people are engaging in a shared experience, taking place in the context of the houses of worship of the three major monotheistic religions fused together as one. It is my intention that the participants feel a connection, perhaps spiritual, to another human being - in spite of or because of the context.