As you read this review right now, whether sitting down with a coffee, standing on a tightly packed commuter train or curling up, ready to hibernate over the winter months, something inside of you is reacting. Though this could be due to an effervescent joy caused by my witty and talented writing, the reaction I am referring to is conscious experience. At this very moment — and every other moment between waking and sleeping — your brain and its several billion cells are conjuring the many sensations that, when combined, create consciousness.
The correlation between the electrochemical activity of the brain and feeling is a puzzle that has baffled scientists throughout the centuries, all the way to the present day and beyond. However, as the universally agreed theme of the future tends to be minimalism, perhaps we should take a leaf from artist Ann Veronica Janssens’ book: by stripping away the complex questions such as ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ and instead simply celebrating the conscious feeling that has allowed us to ask these questions in the first place.
The aforementioned artist’s most recent installation ‘yellowbluepink’ has invaded the 1st floor gallery space of the Wellcome Collection, filling the room with coloured mists. Suspended in animation, the colour becomes opaque, transforming itself from the conceptual to the tangible and destroying any visible depth or surfaces within the room. Now bear with me here; the experience felt within this room, filled with dozens of strangers and you, all contemplating the idea of ‘feeling’ is a difficult one to explain unless you have actually tried it yourself. Until you have had a first-hand experience with the blindness that this room creates. By bumping into walls you had no idea were there and suddenly coming across the silhouettes of others — just as visually impaired as you — who are concealed within the mist until they are just a few feet away, will you understand where I am coming from. The only thing you can be sure of is the sensation of gravity, holding your feet firmly against the floor (and the longer you stay in the room, the less you feel sure of even this basic concept!)
‘Yellowbluepink’ is the opening act of a year-long exhibition ‘States of Mind’, investigating the experience of human consciousness, from the perspective of artists, psychologists, philosophers and scientists. These figures will attempt to conceptualise feeling via their own mediums, in turn, provoking the response of the audience, as after all, we are all leading experts in our own personal experience — even if we can’t explain it.
The exhibit has several restrictions due to the fact it is deliberately disorientating however, there are no limits on photography or video. Therefore it is also a prime opportunity for those that are less self-examination, more self-ie. ∎
(Cover photo via: http://wellcomecollection.org)