An ambitious moving image installation by Lindsay Seers exploring schizophrenia and contemporary insights into the condition.
Shaped by philosophical ideas and scientific research concerned with the phenomenon of consciousness, Seers’ work combines industrial robotics with a three-screen video projection.
The exhibition draws on first-person accounts, discussions with experts, and an experimental treatment known as Avatar Therapy, in which those living with schizophrenia can speak to their persecutors in a digital world.
Using Victorian surgeon James Miranda Barry as a narrator, Seers also explores her fascination with how an individual's biography embodies history, recreating Barry’s future life as an Avatar with the ability to cure.
Lindsay Seers writing on ‘The Letter Pictures’
Almost twenty years ago, a set of events unfolded which I could believe are the origin of these drawings/paintings. A talented art student whom I taught was diagnosed with the condition of schizophrenia; then I had a chance discovery of a novella in a house I was temporarily staying in called “Lenz” by Georg Büchner, which is an early account of the subjective and phenomenal experience of psychosis based on a diary,; and finally I was introduced to an eminent cognitive neuroscientist, Chris Frith, who has worked consistently and extensively in investigating the condition of schizophrenia. What followed was an interest in the idea that there is a unique shift in perception that arises in the case of psychosis, which causes substantial alterations in content, perception of distance and intensity of information. I believe that the materialisation of this is epitomised in the work of 19th century artist Richard Dadd which I refer to in my hybrid collage works.
I have been engaged in a drawing exchange with many people, who I often know only through posting drawings, during the years whilst developing this project. In exchanging drawings with these artists I have tried to understand their particular visual language – to speak to them in their language with my inadequate novice’s voice (a pigeon version), which attempts to assimilate the complexity of their thought but inevitably without the breadth of their specific vocabulary. This struggle to speak through drawings, to see the world through another’s eyes, is also an act of friendship. I have addressed these works as Letter Pictures to pay homage to particular individuals – they are a hybrid of how much other people exist in each of us and to make evident a conscious act of influence rather than an unconscious assimilation. The act of drawing embodies a very particular neurological state between imagined and perceived reality, with the expression of the hand and eye relationship and with the tropes by which we can create metaphors. The drawing exchange has inevitably effected the video work in an implicit way in form and content.