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Pleasure Arousal Dominance

Longterm project

Photographs, installations, performances, video works, sculpture, publication

2009 - 2016


Pleasure Arousal Dominance is a multi-layer project focusing on the discourse and picture-dispositive of a Brain Lab in Switzerland. Between 2009 and 2015 the artist was creating artistic operations. The work questions new ideological constructions and in essence a Western "setting" of knowledge production. 

The current field of brain research is one of the best-financed fields of elementary research today and plays a central role in the geopolitical competition of a technocratic new-liberal society. Switzerland's research laboratories - as a politically stable and neutral country - play a central role and in particular, in Artificial Intelligence AI  plays a leading role.


As an interdisciplinary artist, Dorothée visited a Brain Lab in Geneva and created art operations. For instance, in the series of photographs, the visual border between fiction and documentation become fluid. The subtle changes (interventions) to the rooms, objects, and instruments are photographed in a way to let the viewer doubt himself: A new research instrument or a scene out of a 1970s science fiction movie?


Baumann contrasts the material in her exhibition from the Brain research lab (photos, objects, installations) with a popular practice the aura photography (performance After Benjamin), where she invites visitors to the exhibit to take an aura polaroid in the installed photo studio (the hands are put on two metal plates in hand moldings) next to the high-tech instruments of the laboratory. 


A professional medium then reads the visitor's aura and tells each visitor his story based on the colors of the aura - it is a story about the past, the presence, and the future. The polaroid is then in the exhibit itself and placed by the visitor on the wall.


Dorothée sends all the polaroids three years after the exhibit back to the owner with a note „Souvenir de Mon Aura“. Through this temporal shift of three years, Dorothée created a memory and story for each one based on the colored aura during this time. The aura questions a narrative over time and what linear time means and the invisible print of the hand remain as a colored trace in the memory of the viewer.

I am very grateful to the Brain & Behaviour Laboratory BBL of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and especially to Prof. Patrick Vuilleumier and Prof. Sophie Schwartz and its team.


A big thank you to Sebastian Rieder for sharing his time and passion with me and participating in my videos. I was touched by the incredible openness, and the friendly welcoming culture during the whole visit period over three years, a huge thank you to all of them.


I also thank Ghislaine in particular who participated twice as a professional aura reader in my exhibition in the CPG and shared with me her passion, knowledge, and time about aura reading during many discussions and meetings we had.

I also thank my friend Sandra Pointet for the loan of her professional camera and other photo material as well as the HEAD and all she advises. Sandra Pointed was during the whole project a precious friend and gave me technical support in many ways. She also helped me in the aura studio performance After Benjamin and photographed together with my other friend Dominique Fleury the visitors.

I would also like to thank my laboratory Photorotation in Geneva and the team for the production of the photography prints and scans of the Aura photographs which will become an art book shortly.


A special thank you also goes to my friends Jeanne Gillard and Nicolas Rivet, who have been extremely professional in supporting me with their precious curatorial advice for the exhibition.


A special thank you goes to my friend Sévérine Garat who never gave up faith in me.




Les Presses du réel 

Edited by Editions Centre de la photographie Genève (2017) and distributed by Les presses du Réel. Selected for bookshops at Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art, New York and Jeu de Paume, Paris.

Editions Centre de la photographie Genève (CPG)
Les Presses du réel or CPG
ISBN: 978-2-9701014-6-8

Design: B+R Grafik Bern, Switzerland
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