an extract from

Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy

A book by Evan Thompson.

What exactly is consciousness? The oldest answer to this question comes from India, almost three thousand years ago.

Long before Socrates interrogated his fellow Athenians and Plato wrote his Dialogues, a great debate is said to have taken place in the land of Videha in what is now northeastern India. Staged before the throne of the learned and mighty King Janaka, the debate pitted the great sage Yājñavalkya against the other renowned Brahmins of the kingdom. The king set the prize at a thousand cows with ten gold pieces attached to each one’s horns, and he declared that whoever was the most learned would win the animals. Apparently Yājñavalkya’s sagacity did not entail modesty, for while all the other priests kept silent, not daring to step forward, Yājñavalkya called out to his student to take possession of the cows. Challenged by eight great Brahmins, one by one, Yājñavalkya demonstrated his superior knowledge. As a favor to the king, he allowed him to ask any question he wanted. In the ensuing dialogue, told in the “Great Forest Teaching” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad)—a text dating from the seventh century B.C.E. and the oldest of the ancient Indian scriptures called the Upanishads—Yājñavalkya gave the first recorded account of the nature of consciousness and its main modes or states.

The dialogue begins with the king, knowing exactly where he wants to lead the sage, asking a simple question: “What light does a person have?” Or, as it can also be translated: “What is the source of light for a person here?”“The sun,” replies the sage. “By the light of the sun, a person sits, goes about, does his work, and returns.”“And when the sun sets,” asks the king, “then what light does he have?”“He has the moon as his light,” comes the reply.“And when the sun has set and the moon has set, then what light does a person have?”“Fire,” answers the sage.

Persisting, the king asks what light a person has when the fire goes out, and he gets in reply the clever answer, “Speech.” Yājñavalkya explains: “Even when one cannot see one’s own hand, when speech is uttered, one goes toward it.” In pitch-black darkness, a voice can light your way.
The king, however, still isn’t satisfied and demands to know what light there is when speech has fallen silent. In the absence of sun, moon, fire, and speech, what source of light does a person have?

“The self (ātman),” Yājñavalkya answers. “It is by the light of the self that he sits, goes about, does his work, and returns.”This answer makes plain that the dialogue has been moving backward, from the distant, outer, and visible to the close, inner, and invisible. Nothing is brighter than the sun, or the moon at night, but they reside far away, at an unbridgeable distance. Fire lies closer to hand; it can be tended and cultivated. Speech, however, is produced by the mind. Darkness can’t negate the peculiar luminosity of language, the power of words to light up things and to close the distance between you and another. Yet speech is still external in its being as physical sound. The sun, moon, fire, and speech—we know each one by means of outer perception. The self, however, can’t be known through outer perception, because it resides at the source of perception. It isn’t the perceived, but that which lies behind the perceiving. The self dwells closest, at the maximum point of nearness. It’s never there, but always here. How could we possibly find our way around without it? How could outer sources of light reveal anything to us, if they weren’t themselves lit up by the self? And yet, precisely because the self is so intimate, it seems impossible to have any clear view of it and to know what it is.

Finally, the king is able to ask the question he has all along been aiming toward: “What is the self?”Yājñavalkya answers that the self (ātman) is the inner light that is the person (puruṣa). This light, which consists of knowledge, resides within the heart, surrounded by the vital breath. In the waking state, the person travels this world; in sleep, the person goes beyond this world. The person is his own light and is self-luminous.As this answer unfolds, it becomes clear that the “light” Yājñavalkya is talking about is what we would call “consciousness.”

Consciousness is like a light; it illuminates or reveals things so they can be known. In the waking state, consciousness illuminates the outer world; in dreams, it illuminates the dream world.It’s here, in Yājñavalkya’s answer to the king’s question about the self, that we find the first map of consciousness in written history.

Yājñavalkya explains to the king that a person has two dwellings—this world and the world beyond. Between them lies the borderland of dreams where the two worlds meet. When we rest in the intermediate state of dreams, we see both worlds. The dream state serves as an entryway to the other world, and as we move through it we see both bad things and joyful things.

In the waking state, we see the outer world lit up by the sun. Yet we also see things when we dream. Where do they come from, and what makes them visible? What is the source of the light illuminating things in the dream state?

Yājñavalkya explains that in the dream state we take materials from the entire world—this world and the other one—break them down, and put them back together again. Although the dream state lies between the two worlds, it’s a state of our own making. The person creates everything for himself in dreams and illuminates it all with his own radiance:When he falls asleep, he takes with him the material of this all-containing world, himself breaks it up, himself re-makes it. He sleeps by his own radiance, his own light. Here the person becomes lit by his own light.

It took a while, as I’ve been way to busy, but I finally managed to translate the short essay about color that I originally wrote for for Animal magazine.

I could talk about this subject endlessly, so if you see me at a party it may be wise not to get me started on color symbolism or the science of perception if you want to leave early ;)

Thank you for being here. 
Love and hues,


(random musings about the history, science and mysticsm of color)

by Ana Montiel

The history of humanity could easily be told through color. Rudimentary pigments made out of charred bones, green tones that would turn people insane and are suspected of making ill Napoleon hiself, fluorescent hues made to be used and abused at rave parties… color is always there, anywhere you look.

No blue pigment had been discovered for more than 200 years (since the birth of what we know as cobalt blue), until recently when out of the blue—pardon the silly pun— YInMn was discovered at the University of Oregon.

Crayola has organized a contest to choose a name for this new tone in order to include it at their crayon sets. What a tremendous responsibility to name a new color. So many possibilities!

From the red hues used in cave paintings, made out of grinded mineral pigments like iron oxide or hematite, to the recent red iPhone; as Josef Albers said, if one says 'red' and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun. Pablo Picasso

In the substractive color model (pigment mixing), yellow is a primary color, but when we talk about additive color (RGB or light colors), it is always a secondary color. Yellows and ochres have been used since ancient times. The yellow horse featured in the Lascaux cave paintings is around 17300 years old. Yellow color was associated with gold in Ancient Egypt, both of them were perceived as symbols of divinity and eternal life.

Blue is darkness made visible. Derek Jarman

The glorious arrival of lapis lazuli mineral to Venice during the Renaissance. What a moment, that in which a boat carrying the most vibrant blue ever seen arrived in Venice (the same blue that nowadays we refer to as ultramarine). Giotto used lapis for his frescos at the Scrovegni Chapel in such an extraordinary way that blue was elevated and recognised as the most divine and celestial hue of them all. With the positioning of blue as the most sacred colour, the Church tried to control lapis pigment as much as it could, using its influence so that its cost would even surpass the price of gold, or prohibiting the use of blue in anything but virgin Mary’s clothes.  

Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration. Marc Chagal

Many books about color have been written. There are scientific ones, like Theory of Color by Goethe or Isaac Newton’s writings; others display tencencies towards mysticism (like the ones by Rudolf Steiner or Johannes Itten), and some exude a very intimate spirit, like Derek Jarman’s Chroma. The ode to color that the British artist wrote towards the end of his life, while battling with his illness and loosing his sight. Chroma is raw and poetic in equal measures, packed with historical facts and valuable information.

Learning from books and teachers is like traveling by carriage, so we are told in the Veda. But, the carriage will serve only while one is on the highroad. He who reaches the end of the highroad will leave the carriage and walk afoot. Johannes Itten

My occupation and my passion make me reflect very often about the use of colour. How much is intuition and how much is technique? Colour diagrams always captivated me. So beautiful, and how satisfactory it is to look at all those chromatic gradients so well organised! Despite all this (now that we are among friends) I must too confess that the more the years pass, the less sense I can make of all those systems. Sometimes, I sense order as fear of chaos, when said chaos could simply be an order that we ourselves don’t yet understand. Systems and labels work well and are pretty useful, but in my opinion they carry the risk of generating restrictive beliefs. Producing judgements that can sometimes flirt with binary thinking that doesn’t recognise a cumulus of circumstances or shades of gray.

Diagrams apart, I believe that the key thing we can all do in order to work with colour is to observe—calmly, intently—to educate our retinas constantly. It is also important not to believe in natural born wisdom, not to limit ourselves to what the education system teaches us, and go through our daily lives with an attitude of observation that will enrich us little by little with firsthand knowledge.

The aim of our studies is to prove that color is the most relative means of artistic expression. Josef Albers

Josef Albers’ writings about color are usually labeled as “color theory”, even though he tried to avoid that label repeatedly. During his years as a teacher, Albers encouraged his students to experiment with the chromatic spectrum through a series of exercises so that themselves could learn about it through trial and error. Josef Albers always mantained that practise went before theory, and that with his teachings about color, he was sharing a filosophy and a way of seeing more than a theory per se.

Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet. Paul Klee

A small percent of tetrachromatic humans exists around the world at the moment. Tetrachromats possess four different types of  cone cells in the eye to perceive light and color. This lucky portion of the population can distinguish up to 10 different tonalities in the rainbow, meanwhile most of the people can only distinguish between 5 and 7 hues in it. Luckily there are new technologies to help our vision progress that don’t depend on human evolution, like for example, an experimental eyedrop treatment made out of a chlorophyll analog that induces temporary night vision. Biohacking to the rescue!

The visible spectrum has no exact limits; the average human eye can perceive wavelenghts from about 390 to 750 nm. Most of the light wavelenghts are colorless and the tonalities are created inside our eyes. What would happen if thanks to evolution or with the help of biotechnology we could amplify our perception of the spectrum? Would we be able to see colours we can’t even imagine? How would they be?

Una entrevista y un mixtape para

(para los monógamos de Spotify, aquí está el playlist en vuestra plataforma favorita ;)

Rapsodia Cromática para revista Animal


Reflexiones aleatorias sobre la historia, ciencia y misticismo del color.

La historia de la humanidad se podría relatar fácilmente tomando como hilo conductor el color. Pigmentos rudimentarios hechos a partir de huesos calcinados, gamas verdes que hacían enloquecer a la gente y se dice que enfermaron incluso al mismo Napoleón, coloridos fluorescentes para su uso en raves… el color siempre está ahí, dondequiera que mires.

Hacía más de 200 años (desde el hallazgo del cobalto en 1802) que no se descubría un nuevo pigmento azul, hasta que hace poco apareció por sorpresa en un laboratorio de la Universidad de Oregon el azul YInMn. Crayola ha organizado un concurso para elegirle un nombre a esta nueva tonalidad, y así poderla incluir en sus estuches de crayones. Qué responsabilidad nombrar un nuevo color, ¡cuántas posibilidades!

Desde el rojo de las cavernas, hecho a partir de pigmentos minerales molidos como el óxido de hierro o la hematita, hasta el del nuevo iPhone Red; como decía Josef Albers, si uno dice rojo y hay 50 personas escuchando, se puede esperar que cada una esté imaginando un tono diferente del color.

Algunos pintores convierten el Sol en un punto amarillo; otros convierten un punto amarillo en el Sol. Pablo Picasso

En la síntesis sustractiva (mezcla de pigmentos), el amarillo es uno de los colores primarios, pero cuando hablamos de colores luz (RGB) siempre pasa a ser secundario. Los amarillos y ocres han sido utilizados desde la prehistoria. La pintura rupestre del caballo amarillo que hay en las cuevas de Lascaux se estima que tiene alrededor de 17 300 años. En el antiguo Egipto asociaban el color amarillo con el oro, reconociendo a ambos como símbolos de divinidad e inmortalidad.

El azul es oscuridad hecha visible. Derek Jarman

La gloriosa llegada del mineral lapislázuli a Venecia durante el Renacimiento.

Qué momento en el que un barco llegó con el azul más vibrante que se había visto, aquel que se convertiría en lo que hoy llamamos ultramarino. Giotto lo utilizó de una manera tan extraordinaria en sus frescos para la capilla de los Scrovegni, que posicionó esta tonalidad como la más divina y celestial de todas. Al elevar de esta manera el azul como el tono más sagrado, la Iglesia trató de controlar dicho pigmento todo lo que pudo, influyendo para que su precio superara incluso el del oro, o llegando a prohibir su uso en otra cosa que no fueran los ropajes de la virgen María.

El color lo es todo. Cuando el color es el correcto, la forma es la correcta. Lo es todo, es la vibración. Y como en la música, todo es la vibración. Marc Chagall

Se han escrito muchos libros sobre el color. Unos más científicos, como Teoría de los colores, de Goethe, o los textos de Isaac Newton; algunos con tendencias hacia el misticismo, como los de Rudolf Steiner o Johannes Itten, y otros muy personales, como Chroma, de Derek Jarman. Una oda al espectro cromático que el artista británico escribió al final de su vida, ya enfermo y sin vista. El libro es crudo a la par de poético, repleto de hechos históricos e información valiosa.

Los Vedas nos dicen que aprender de libros y maestros es como viajar en carro. Éste servirá siempre y cuando uno se mantenga en la calzada. La persona que alcanza el final de la vía, tendrá que dejar atrás el vehículo y abrirse camino por la senda. Johannes Itten

Mi profesión y pasión me hacen reflexionar a menudo sobre el uso del color. ¿Cuánto es técnica y cuánto es intuición?

Los diagramas de color siempre me fascinaron. Qué bellos, ¡y qué satisfactorio es ver todos esos gradientes cromáticos tan bien organizados! Igual he de confesar, ya que estamos entre amigos, que cuanto más van pasando los años, menos sentido les veo a todos esos sistemas. Siento a veces el orden como miedo al caos, cuando dicho caos podría simplemente ser un orden que todavía no entendemos. Los sistemas y las etiquetas funcionan bien y son prácticas, pero conllevan un riesgo: pueden generar un pensamiento restrictivo. Un juicio que puede coquetear con el pensamiento binario y que no percibe un cúmulo de factores y tonalidades grises.

Diagramas aparte, creo que lo más valioso que se puede hacer para entender y trabajar con el color, es observar. Atentamente. Educar nuestras retinas en todo momento. No confiar en el conocimiento innato y tampoco limitarnos a lo que nos enseña el sistema educativo, sino traer a nuestro día a día una actitud de observación que vaya enriqueciéndonos y aportándonos conocimiento empírico. Observación y análisis de la mano de intuición y perseverancia para la puesta en práctica.

El propósito de nuestros estudios es demostrar que el color es el modo de expresión artística más relativo. Josef Albers

Los escritos sobre el color de Josef Albers a menudo son catalogados como “teoría del color”, aunque él trató de evadir dicha etiqueta. Durante sus años como profesor, Albers animaba a sus estudiantes a experimentar con el color a través de diversos ejercicios para que ellos mismos aprendieran por medio de prueba y error. Siempre defendió que la práctica tenía que ir antes de la teoría, y que con sus enseñanzas sobre el color, él estaba compartiendo una filosofía y una manera de ver, más que una teoría per se.

El color es el lugar donde nuestra  mente y el universo confluyen. Paul Klee

En el mundo ya existe un pequeño porcentaje de humanos tetracrómatas que cuentan con cuatro tipos de células cono en los ojos para percibir luz y tonalidades; este afortunado porcentaje puede llegar a ver hasta 10 tonos en el arcoíris, mientras que la mayoría de personas (tricrómatas) ve sólo entre cinco y siete. Por suerte hay alternativas en camino para el realce de la vista que no dependen de la evolución humana, como unas gotas para los ojos hechas a base de clorofila, que proporcionan visión nocturna temporal. ¡Biohacking al rescate!

El espectro visible no tiene límites exactos; un ojo humano común percibe longitudes de onda que oscilan entre los 390 y 750 nm (aunque algunos individuos consiguen percibir entre los 380 hasta 780 nm). Las ondas luminosas son incoloras de por sí y las tonalidades se crean dentro de nuestros ojos. ¿Qué pasaría si con la evolución o con la ayuda de biotecnología ampliáramos nuestra percepción del espectro? ¿Conseguiríamos ver colores que ni nos imaginamos? ¿Cómo serían?

Inner Monuments

I'll be presenting an site specific installation at Aparador Cuchilla (Aldo Chaparro's Studio) on August 24th, 2017. Mexico City.

If you want to attend to the opening, please rsvp to this e-mail address: rsvp(at)


a playlist

Play it on shuffle mode.

This way the forces of life will select the most suitable order for you ;)



This project started in the Autumn of 2015.

Camille Walala, Jordy Van Den Nieuwendijk, Lakwena Maciver, Supermundane, Anthony Burrill, Charlie Patterson, David Shillinglaw, Hattie Stewart, Morag Myerscough and myself had been invited by They Made This to produce some artwork to be shown at Protein Gallery and auctioned at Christie's. All the profits were to go to Refuge charity.

Originally, I was planning to do a couple of Visual Mantras paintings. Playing with repetition as a way towards trance/meditation, but the restriction of the already decided pattern didn't resonate with me anymore. I felt the process of colouring more or less inside the lines quite rigid and didn't want to move forward with it.

At that point I was reading a few books about Quantum Physics, Dark Matter, Multiverses, supermassive black holes and all that. All mindbending and spellbinding in equal measures :)

I came up with the analogy of a Visual Mantras pattern as a framework that could represent the starting point at the beginning of a person's life—similar to a Natal Chart in astrology—and I started playing with how much this pattern/set of parameters could vary depending on the choices/events at this person's life—progressions and transits in astrology.

I compared it to the Multiverse theory. So many possibilities and realities can be happening at the same time to the different selves of an individual!


The Universe keeps expanding, the same can happen with our hearts and brains.

Let's grow together and acknoledge there's always something else to try, learn and love.



Some could say I moved to Mexico under a spell. All happened very fast: in two and a half months to be precise. I never paid much attention to this country, but when I visited it for a week in 2014, I fell in love with it hard and fast. I got back to London, separated from my husband, gave away 98 per cent of the stuff I owned (now that I think about it, maybe some of you, dear readers, might have one of the hundreds of books and vinyl records I donated to the Oxfam in Dalston? If that’s the case, send them my regards!), and promplty bought another plane ticket to return.

I landed in Mexico City late September 2014, with two bags, my senior cat and a lot of excitement. Months of fun and newness followed. Plenty of long walks too. I especially enjoyed witnessing how greenery takes over modern architecture with such beauty and ease in some neighbourhoods.

Despite me relishing endless megalopolitan pleasures, life had other plans for me. All of a sudden I found myself relocating to Tepoztlán, with a new love(r) and my aforementioned cat. “Tepoz” is a charming village one hour away from Mexico City, surrounded by mountains and spiced with a rich fauna and flora. When I speak of fauna I’m including the weird and wonderful humans that inhabit this area. Hippies that came in the 1960s and never left, ufologists waiting for sightings (quite common in the area), artists, ecowarriors, yogis, bon vivants and all the locals that have been here for generations and keep things as authentic as it gets.

Upon arrival, I rented a house from which you can see the aztec pyramid up the mountain. It came unfurnished, so I started to make experimental furniture with concrete blocks, pieces of wood and stuff like that. I didn’t want to start hoarding as much stuff as I had while in London or Barcelona, but plants were a different story, they always are.
The garden already had a good selection of endemic vegetation: avocado, guava, loquat and lemon trees surrounded by bird-of- paradise plants and very tall Monsteras, but I wanted to adopt houseplants for the interior.

Here in Mexico I see the grownup version of the houseplants I used to have during my London years. At this scale they are like giants, dancing with the wind and producing alien looking owers. I love the gentle graphic beauty of the elephant ear plant. Besides its great looks, taro is a food staple in many countries and revered for its health benefits. I bought my first Alocasias and Colocasias at Viveros Yautepec, a massive plant nursery that is full of wonders. They even play classical music to the plants on speakers scattered over the expanse of the site! You can find all kinds of greenery there: ornamental, edible, tropical and whatnot.

I always get very carried away and our old Volkswagen van turns into a jungle-à-porter on the return trip. Oh! What joy to look behind you and see a flock of happy plants: roomies to be! Colocasia’s size appeals greatly to my inner child. I often catch myself fantasizing about waiting for a cat-bus while being sheltered from the rain by a taro-leaf umbrella, as if I was in some kind of My Neighbour Totoro alternate reality. Maybe we could breed an even bigger variety of Colocasia gigantea and use its leaves as temporary camping tents, experimental clothing or boat sails? So many possibilities: so much fun.

Utopia Ascending #1

Freethinking can be risky, and let’s be honest, requires more effort than following others’ ideas, but at this point in our society it is fundamental.

We need to think and choose for ourselves, trying to avoid being influenced by external inputs but instead trying to be guided by our thoughts, experience, feelings or intution.

Trying this, can bring a wondrous sense of empowerment, yet at the same time, can be unsettling. If you “fail” all the liability is yours, there’s no one to point your finger at while saying—it was his/her/their idea!.
Now, more than ever the time has come for us to question everything, analyze, compare and come up with what makes more sense to each of us. Any information that comes from the media, any random advice, any prescription… all are impregnated on the background or interests of someone else. They can be more or less aligned with yours but better reflect on all the facts before joining any of the factions.

In these times of information overload, it is crucial to discern what deserves our attention, what is relevant to us and what doesn’t apply. Choice is a powerful gift, but we need to remind ourselves that all power comes with responsibility.


A playlist
for this week's
penumbral lunar eclipse.

"Which one do you prefer, your online self or your offline self?"

The first one is a fiction. Attractive yet incomplete.
A projection curated by ourselves. Easy to love but illusory.

What about the offline one?

Human. Imperfect yet whole. Complete, with its light and its darkness. More difficult to love and accept unconditionally, true. But not accepting it can be like deniying our essences.

Compassion and a bit of humour can be key to embrace our "flaws". Not taking things too seriously and trusting the process of life more.
Sometimes, when I catch me being too harsh with myself I ask myself this question: Would I be this exigent/critical with someone I love (a dear friend, my partner, etc) in this situation?
Answer is always no.

Being more gentle and understanding with ourselves can be a good first step towards more self-acceptance, love and fun in our lives.

My intention with this journal is to share ideas with you.

It is a work in progress in all possible ways, let’s see how it evolves :)

Welcome and thank you for being part of this.