What is in the contents of your head at the moment of the beep?
This film was commissioned as part of a residency within the Wellcome Collection’s Hubbub Group and exhibited at the “Rest & its discontents” exhibition at Mile End Art Pavilion, London October 2016.
Using playful imagery the film presents a collection of short vignettes that explore the strange and often abstract nature of our everyday inner experiences.
The experiences were documented through a process called descriptive experience sampling (DES), a technique developed by American psychologist Russel Hurlburt that aims to document inner experiences – the thoughts, feelings, sensations and bodily experiences that constitute our everyday consciousness.
Participants of DES wear a small beeper which sounds randomly throughout the day, at the moment of the beep, individuals are instructed to note down the exact contents of their experience (this could include internal monologues, physical sensations or visual imagery).
Follow up interviews tease out the information of the experiences and distill them into short summaries. These so called “beep summaries” provide wonderfully vivid depictions, almost like a dream diary, for seemingly mundane everyday experiences.
Using material gathered by several members of the Hubbub team, this film translates and re-interprets the contents of the beep summaries, referencing the distortions and adaptations that occur when we try to conceptualise our inner experiences with others.
The film was shot over the summer of 2016 on a Sony A7s. I used old M42 lenses to help give the piece a faded, dream like quality – which was further aided by adding film grain and muting the colours slightly in post. Most of the portraits were shot on an old Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens which has a beautiful vintage bokeh, which is full of character and lacks the somewhat clinical precision of a modern lens.
Find out more about the Hubbub Research group here: hubbubresearch.org
There was a lovely edition of BBC R4’s “Four Thought” broadcast last week called “Capturing Moonlight”. In this short programme, poet Astrid Alben discusses her experiences of using art and science together to better understand the nature of moonlight. What is particularly interesting to me is hearing about Astrid’s endeavour to navigate the complexities of science in order to deepen her own artistic practice.
Back in 2015 I collaborated with Astrid and Hester Aardse of the PARS Foundation to produce a listening experience for a Wellcome Collection event called ‘Some Like Dark‘, which formed part of her investigation into moonlight.
Together we crafted an audio work which centred around an interview recorded with physicist Sir John Pendry. The piece explores how our modern understanding of light developed through investigations by James Clerk Maxwell in the 19th Century and concludes with a playful discussion about trying to capture moonlight in a box (excerpt 4).
The 30 minute piece also included readings and audio works from theatre maker Jan van den Berg, lighting designer; Jennifer Tipton and sound poet; Jaap Blonk.
Rest matters to everyone. Its presence, absence and quality affects mind, body, culture and society. Rest & its discontents explores the dynamics of rest, stress, relaxation, sound, noise, work and mindwandering in an evolving laboratory of moving image, performance, drawing, poetry, data, sound, music and debate.
The short film is the final piece I’ve produced as part of my 2-year residency within the Wellcome Collection’s Hubbub Group.
The film uses material gathered from individuals participating in Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) to generate short vignettes which explore and re-interpret their inner experiences. DES is a method pioneered by US psychologist Russell Hurlburt which aims to document the nature and quality of an individual’s inner experiences.
Participants are given a beeper that sounds randomly throughout the day and when it does, individuals are asked to make a note of the contents of their experience. Follow up interviews tease out the detail of each experience to produce a short “beep summary”, a short vignette or snapshot of an isolated experience in time.
Experience Composite, uses the the contents of the beep summaries and experiments with framing, looping and over-dubbing to explore the nature of our inner experiences. The film also re-interprets the summaries in playful ways to highlight the unavoidable distortion and artifice introduced when attempting to document or conceptualise our inner experiences.
Occurring without warning, the panic attack is a crippling and cruel symptom of many anxiety disorders. These debilitating episodes thrust individuals into intense bouts of terror, leaving them fighting to regain control of their own body.
The piece combines interview material recorded with a friend and abrasive sound design to pull the listener into the experience of a panic attack. It was produced as part of the Hubbub Relaxation / Cacophony tape, commissioned by the Wellcome Trust and featured during the Lates Spectacular event in September 2015.
Over the last month I’ve been collaborating with Astrid Alben and Hester Aardse of PARS to produce a listening experience for their ‘Some Like Dark‘ event that runs over the May bank holiday weekend at the Wellcome Collection in London.
The listening feature is made up from a collection of interwoven readings, poems, sound pieces and interviews that explore light from different perspectives.
Let your imagination loose on an in-the-dark journey with the work of theatre maker Jan van den Berg, lighting designer; Jennifer Tipton, physicist; John Pendry, sound poet; Jaap Blonk; and many more.
The event promises to be a magical and immersive experience featuring science demonstrations and an animation produced by Eleni Kalorkoti entitled ‘Moonlight in a box’ (top image).
Tickets are free and can be booked online or in person over the weekend! The event runs all weekend as part of the larger ‘On Light‘ event taking place at the Wellcome collection – check it out!
In a week’s time In The Dark will be hosting a special listening event at the Wellcome Collection, as part of the larger Voice event. We will be curating an evening of listening that taps into our complex relationship with the voice, featuring a rich chorus of vocalisations, speech and other oral oddities. The listening event will run for approximately 20 minutes and will be repeated throughout the night (timings below) – I’ve just finished mixing the playlist and we’ve managed to squeeze in an interesting range of material, from strong narrative pieces to the more avant garde.
In addition to our own event, there’s a load of other great stuff going on under the same roof, including talks exploring the science of speech, live vocal demonstrations from yodellers and sports commentators, talking parrots and technology that will remix your voice in real time. It’s all FREE as well, so if you’re in London next Friday you may as well drop by and have a look / listen for yourself.