Using the former Courthouse building in Arbroath’s Town Centre for the second time, Hospitalfield is co-commissioner of a new work by UK-based artist Lindsay Seers, Every Thought There Ever Was. Through the use of digital animation, robotics, film, drawing and sound design the artist has created a complex and layered environment that explores a world experienced differently.
Every Thought There Ever Was draws on the extraordinary brain functioning that occurs in schizophrenia. The art work is layered with intense subjective experiences relating to the historic and contemporary understanding of hallucination and psychosis. When you enter the rooms of the Courthouse, film screens themselves become robotic protagonists within the work, they move with digital images of faces and creatures; coloured lights animate sculptures; a dense audio-track from seven channels seems to be both inside and outside of the viewer’s head.
A driving force behind the installation is a treatment known as Avatar Therapy, a patient specific digital treatment, developed in 2008 by psychiatrist Professor Julian Leff, whose aspiration was to help relieve the onslaught of denigrating voices that can occur in the condition of paranoid schizophrenia. The art work has been shaped by conversations with Professor Leff and scientific partners including Anil Seth Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and Chris Frith, Emeritus and Professor of Neuropsychology, UCL to explore the current developments of neuroscientific thought on the collapse of hallucination and reality so evident in the condition.
Pursuing her ongoing fascination with how an individual’s biography embodies history, Seers uses the words of iconic figures such as artist Richard Dadd, minister George Trosse and Victorian surgeon James Miranda Barry alongside meetings and drawing exchanges with living protagonists. Drawing acted as a catalyst to consider the overall shape of the work, whose fundamental drive is to question the boundary between imagination, hallucination and the so called real in contemporary society and the spectral mediums we communicate through.
Every Thought There Ever Was is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust and is co-commissioned by the MAC, Belfast; Matt’s Gallery, London; Focal Point Gallery, Southend-On-Sea; Hospitalfield, Arbroath; and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.