Exhibition

Annabelle Craven-Jones: Conditions for neurotransmission [P.O.V.]

25 Jun 2016 – 23 Jul 2016

Cruise & Callas

Berlin
Berlin, Germany

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Transmitting information is inherent in today’s networked Internet Age. The information structures of our digital surroundings resemble the inner transmitting systems of nerves and their contacts, the synapses.

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With the help of messenger substances, neurotransmitters like serotonin pass on information and thereby activate the inner neural system. In her installation "Conditions for Neurotransmission [P.O.V.]" artist Annabelle Craven-Jones visualizes the mutual effects of both information systems and points to the condition change of (inner) neurotransmission through the (outer) digital.

Outside the gallery, a webcam in a car continuously films its rear view mirror. The live stream is transmitted in real time via the gallery’s Wi-Fi to the inside of the exhibition space onto a screen. From time to time a second remote stream appears as another layer. A rectangular box roughly replaces the rear view mirror to present another projection. It streams in real time out of a driving car’s window in a city in UK. This remote camera replaces the actions taking place outside the gallery in Berlin. Therefore the two places are connected as parallel spaces on the screen’s surface.

In contrast to the online technology that fractures the sense of corporeality and materiality, a crushed car aligned with the screen physically references the car outside, as both are the same model. They serve to ground the virtualizing effects of the live streams with their physical, gravity-based presence. But even the heavy cars remain in a floating state as they are all borrowed: from the gallery owner, the scrap yard, and the artist’s partner in the UK. Further, the compressed state of the car alludes to the spatio-temporal compressions that the live video is subjected to through its various encodings. 

The artist perceives the screen as a permeable membrane. The point of view (P.O.V.) of the live stream, that is the artist self-transmitting data through time and space, includes the viewer in this information synthesis who follows it on the screen. Further, the live stream links the outer (digital) and inner (physical) information system: Digital screens emit a blue, daytime imitating light that has a psychoactive impact on the inner systems as it increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin that causes activeness and awakeness. Especially at night, too much of the screen’s blue light highly disturbs the human’s circadian system, causing stress that could lead to depression. Whereas orange light, provided in the installation via a filter with the remote live stream, disrupts the blue light and blocks its psychoactive effects. It induces the neurotransmitter melatonin that counteracts the ‘digital’ serotonin. Orange filters can be downloaded as an app. They allow us to re-adjust our screen-based life to our sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.

On the dashboard in the car outside the gallery two books directly address these phenomena. The medical book on correlative neuroanatomy reveals a schematic of an operation mode of a neural transmitter. The schematic in the 1970s self-help guide on depression shows how stress causes depression. Therapy culture is a very contemporary issue that could be strongly related to the alienation from the physical place (non-location), the own body (disembodiment) and the distorted conditions for neurotransmission, all caused by living in a (screen-based) digitally networked society. With the camera looking backward, the artist points to these blind spots of human perception that become visible in the rear view mirror, as well as the blind spots in mind and memory, that therapy usually brings up.

The exhibition "Conditions for Neurotransmission [P.O.V.]" reveals how the digital conditions for transmission (represented by the artist’s self-broadcast live stream) and the physical settings for neurotransmission (experienced by the viewer via the screen) are intertwined, unstable and in constant flux. With her installation, Annabelle Craven-Jones points to non-location, disembodiment and distortion of the conditions for neurotransmission as profound impacts on the physical and psychological well-being caused by living in the Digital Age.

 

Tina Sauerländer

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