in early 1998, MAPPING PERCEPTION is a collaboration
between Giles Lane,
curator and producer (Proboscis), Andrew Kötting,
the acclaimed director of Gallivant and Smart
Alek, and Mark
neurophysiologist at the Institute of Child Health,
London with the participation of Eden Kötting.
MAPPING PERCEPTION aims to examine the limits of human perception through an investigation of impaired brain function to further understand the mind and body interaction and our relationship with its abnormality. This dual display of what is seen and what courses beneath the surface brings us to the core substance of what we perceive in ourselves and others. It aims to make visible the connections between the scientific and artistic explorations of the human condition, probing the thin membrane between the able and the disabled.
MAPPING PERCEPTION is a unique kind of collaboration between a curator, an artist and a scientist: working together they aim to challenge not only how art and culture benefit from science, but also how science benefits from art and culture. The results will be a genuine attempt for the "Two Cultures" to work together to produce a body of work that is both art and a product of scientific research, not merely that of an artist using the technologies of science, nor a scientist making use of aesthetic images to describe scientific techniques. It sets out to rethink attitudes and to position artistic and scientific practices at the leading edge of social debate on perceptions of disability.
At the heart of the project is Andrew's daughter Eden, who has a rare genetic condition known as Joubert's Syndrome in which a small part of the lower portion of the brain (the cerebellum) is underdeveloped. This causes Eden to have a variety of symptoms including trouble with her speech, motor co-ordination, eye movements and breathing. Using the contrast between Andrew's 'normal' brain and Eden's 'abnormal' brain as a point of departure, the collaboration is investigating what lies behind such perceptions: social, scientific or otherwise.
The collaboration aims to be symbiotic: the different approaches of critical thinking, artistic practice and scientific methodology operating like a series of antagonistic pairs; the partly ironic title hints at this duality - between science's belief in the reducibility of human experience and the philosophical chimera that is 'perception'.
The project took its initial inspiration from Eden's condition, but it has been the implications of disability on the senses and the exploration of perception itself, that our discussions from science have opened up; "Why do we see only in visible light" and "what would world look like if we could sense polarised light instead of visible?" It is our senses that guide us and it has been the interpretation of Eden's and our perception, though a mutual language of art and science, which has resulted in this project. The outcomes will blend technology, science and personal enquiry to accentuate the charismatic humanism that the dialogue between art and the science exposes.
The project was initiated by Giles who brought Andrew and Mark together, having previously commissioned each of them to contribute to COIL journal of moving image. Mark wrote about the Images of the Mind, while Andrew presented Twit gone Drank. Now after 4 years of close proximity, they confabulate about the 'Mind gone Twit'.
A key criterion for exhibiting the work is public accessibility: MAPPING PERCEPTION will have a series of outcomes: a short 16mm film; an audio-visual installation; a publication and this website. Each offer a very different way to approach the subject matter and allow the team to address diverse audiences in different ways. The team have also given talks and presentations about the project, notably at Imperial College London's Science-Art Seminar (June 1999) and the Sciart Symposium at the Royal Geographic Society (September 2000).
updated February 26, 2003
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