Hair Skull , artist hair, Niamh Cunningham 2013
“Linear’ is a group exhibition showing at Jingheng Art Space, Shanghai , 88 Jingheng Square, 818, Zhiwei Road, Jinshan.
Working with DNA as an art material :
Physically knitting your own genomic material is a very contemplative process. Each strand is tested for strength, elasticity and tensility before being selected for specific sections of the sculpture. The white hairs are strong and tensile and suspend the skull with ease. The coloured hair is soft but elastic and resilient.
Being able to see through own genome and acknowledging it as your “coded” self as well as your personal story or experience, this screen of transparent knitted hair frames your world view. Holding on to the idea that it is my perception, acknowledging my referenced life (family traits and other things that are contained in my genome) and personal experience, this is what is framing my view of the world.
Hair Lock artist hair, Niamh Cunningham 2015
Consciousness is controlled hallucinations:
This is an interesting soundbite worth looking into. We know now that green red and yellow colours are not objective properties of objects in the world, they are just attributes of reflected light. And as the brain works out calculations of wavelengths of light it determines what colour something is. So we don’t even passively receive colour from the world but we actively attribute it to things in the world.
Neuro scientist Anil Seth talks about controlled hallucinations as being our consciousness and says it is not just our perceptions of the outside world but also ourselves, our memory, everything we perceive is a construction. According to Seth instead of perception depending largely on signals coming into the brain from the outside world, it depends as much, if not more, on perceptual predictions flowing in the opposite direction. We don’t just passively perceive the world. We actively generate it. The world we experience comes as much, if not more, from the inside out as from the outside in.
Cultural perception and our ecological crisis:
This brings us back to our ecological crisis. How can we change our perspective and ways of relating to ‘life’ as a planetary process. Developing a cultural ability to see our actions and the changes we can make, to view this from a systemic perspective would be a good goal. I believe culture and the arts have a vital role in shifting these norms of perception to positive changes in consumer choice which will leading to new industries and economies which are actually sustainable.
A huge thank you to curator Chang Feng and Shanghai Jingheng Art Space. The exhibition continues till December 20th.