The High Focus Institute (2016)


Socio-Natürlich is a work created during the 2016 spring residency at ICST.

The High Focus Institute are fictional characters created by Michael Glen and Stephanie Beattie. We popose the latest in its series of experiential installations concerning the relationships of belief, empiricism and technology. Our objective is to configure the relationship of self narrative, made objects and society by using constructed realities as systems of subjective truth for the purposes of self knowledge.

About Sozio-Natürlich

Self itself has become the determining factor of our existential satisfaction, yet at the same time the conditions of late modernity have dislodged our- selves from our physical and social environments. Actions and experience feel distanced from a coherent system of meaning for many. In its simple-st sense the action being divorced from the body. We might also find that societies themselves suffer from a disembedding as social interactions become mediatized, virtualized and remote.

Consider the following complaints of modernity – engaging in work that seems absent from greater meaning, the consumption of lifestyle as re- placement for community, and the performative nature of remote social engagement. They all point to ways of doing and experiencing being lifted from limited local contexts.

As we glue these pieces together the configurations seem uneasy as if there must be another way. However a recreation of the traditional would be a mere simulation of what was, ill-fitting to our current material circumstances. Conversely a dive headlong into the myth of progress offered by modernity comes up short against the hollow offerings of consumerism and capitalism. And so we are left holding the pieces of ourselves, and the glue of our material capacities yet unable to create satisfying configurations.

Mystical constructions of reality appeal to that with which modernity has failed to supply us. Mysticism is not a failure of knowledge nor an attempt to somehow know the unknowable, but a deep desire to approach the material world as a sentient entity. That which could understand us. The horror of nature is its indifference towards us, and we project our sentience upon to remake it such that it should care for us. When we create worlds in which we are ‘known’ we value ourselves and allow others to do the same.

Artist Interview with High Focus Institute, talking about the piece, concepts and methods, and the challenges and his experiences of working in the immersive lab (in English).


Stephanie Beattie and Michael Glen are artist/designers whose collaborative project The High Focus Institute comprises a series of performances and installations at the intersection of their individual practices in video, projection and performance art. They both studied at Parsons The New School for Design and are currently based in Brooklyn.


at work