Labyrinth Psychotica is a practice-based PhD project by artist Jennifer Kanary in which she investigated what it is like to be psychotic. The Creative Care Lab of Waag took Jennifer Kanary‘s artistic research project under it’s wings in the form of an artist/researcher in residence. The mission of Creative Care Lab is to implement creative technology for innovation in health care.

Psychosis is considered as a severe mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Psychosis is believed to affect 1–3% of the population at some point in their lives. This project aims to enhance the treatment of psychosis and the way we deal with psychotic people. 

When you think about how to simulate psychosis, one quickly comes to the wish to work with Virtual Reality. Indeed many of the existing psychosis simulators make use of Virtual Reality technology to illustrate the experience of psychosis. Jennifer Kanary about this subject:

"I'm looking for a way that creates an experience that is analogue. An experience that makes the user doubt their own borders of the real and unreal. With current developments of Augmented Reality that uses Virtual Reality as an added layer to reality, the chances of achieving this have become enhanced. My current goal is to develop a Head Mounted Display (HMD) that plays with the borders of the real and the unreal. In my opinion we will not break through the stigma of madness unless we breakthrough the stigma of our reality concepts."

At the Fablab, the artist develops a 'do-it-yourself-psychosis’ kit, consisting of a Head Mounted Display (HMD). This HMD would ideally contain a natural tracking software that does not need markers to trigger video processing. An HMD in which natural objects would be the triggers. These elements would start a network of associations that allow to dive deeper into the emotional logic of psychotic space. 

Advisors to this project (at different stages):

  • Wouter Kusters, philosopher, author and experience-based expert in psychosis (wrote the book Alleen and Pure Waanzin)
  • Pieter Jonker, professor TU Delft, Augmented Reality Lab
  • Yolande Kolstee, director Augmented Reality Lab
  • Niels van Saandonk, experience-based expert in schizophrenia and former chairman of Anoiksis
  • Theo Festen, psychologist and psychotherapist
  • Don Linszen, psychiater and former director of AMC schizophrenia research
  • Petra Hunsche, journalist and founder magazine Kronkel (for psychiatric patients)
  • Jannemiek Tukker, artist and experienced-based in psychosis

Project duration

1 Sept 2010 - 1 Dec 2012




  • Augmented Reality Lab
  • TU Delft
  • AMC