Monday, 18 January 2016

Ann Veronica Janssens: yellowbluepink, Wellcome Collection

So, we finally managed to get along to the Ann Veronica Janssens installation, yellowbluepink, at the Wellcome Collection and it was well worth the hour's queue to get in.
This installation by the Brussels-based artist was intended as an experiment into perception. She filled a white walled room with a thick mist and intensely lit different areas in powerully contrasting colours. The aim of the installation was to deliberately disorientate as well as challenge our process of perception and the way in which we interact with our external environment. The results were something quite spectacular and really something which should be experienced rather than read, or viewed through photography. I will try my best to describe it to you...

On entering the room we were instantly submerged into a mono-world of singular colour; it was as if all of our senses were preoccupied with processing one blanket thought, that of colour. It was like being blind, but blind with colour. I began to experience waves of both panic and euphoria as I lost all sense of depth and distance. At times I could feel my mind longing for the familiar landmarks of surface and texture. My eyes tried in vain to make sense of this strange new environment; scanning the mist like digital cameras trapped in an unbeatable mission to auto focus.
Voices could be heard all around and occassionally the silhouettes of other visitors could be seen gliding in and out of view like spectral forms through a snow drift. Suddenly a wall appeared out of nowhere, the grain of the paint startling to the mind, is it real, is it actually a wall, your mind has almost begun to forget what physical matter looks like, reaching forward the sense of touch confirms that yes you have indeed reached the outer limits of this strange new world.
Moving through the installation colours flit from yellow, blue, pink within the blink of an eye. The effect is that it is not always clear to the mind whether the colours themselves have physically changed or if it is simply your position geographically within the room which has brought you into a new area of colour.
For me, it was when entering an area of intense white that a deep rooted fear tried it's hardest to grip me. It was like the pinks and blues were too artificial to cause genuine alarm, however here submerged in the whiteness some primordial horror at being lost within a deep blizzard or some unpenetrable fog began to grip me and my reptilian brain wanted nothing better than to run!
This was truly an exhibit to remember, with yellowbluepink Janssens has achieved her goals of removing us from daily life and allowing us to become aware of actually being conscious. A brilliant, thought provoking artist and certainly one to look out for at future events.

Although this particular installation has now been wrapped up, the States of Mind exhibition at the Wellcome Collection continues (4 February 2016 - 16 October 2016), and will examine ideas around the nature of consciousness, particularly what happens when our conscious experience is interrupted, damaged or undermined. Work by Carla MacKinnon, Louise K Wilson, A. R. Hopwood, Mary Kelly and Aya Ben Ron will be featured throughout the year.