Most inspiration starts when I place myself in an arena where I am out of my depth, followed by a conversation I couldn’t have predicted. In July 2004 I went to visit a laboratory in Madison USA (at the University of Wisconsin); a place where people research human wellbeing. Amongst the 13 neuroscientists I spoke to, I found myself sitting on a grass verge in sun, talking incessantly to Professor Jim Coan for close to 3 hours. I got his mind, he got mine.
What it is:
We seemed to be mutually fascinated by the notion of ‘'authentic emotion'. In my words, an urge to explore those emotions that best inform you that you exist. After further conversations and a key trip to New York, the idea for “Eye & I” suggested itself. Jim says I began to draw it on a napkin in a Starbucks down town, I think I drew it for the first time on the plane on the way back home. It was and is a new kind of explorative space for emotional interaction between humans. A room within a room whose purple walls and ceiling are covered with rectangular slots, behind which 16 actors emote polarized emotions in unison; anger/joy, fear/happiness –- for 5 minutes at a time.
What it is doing now:
In collaboration with Michele Inniss at Charles Edward Brooke School in South London we piloted the installation for a week in May 2005 with 7 schools and a mixed audience from 3-80 years old. I was terrified, feeling emotionally responsible for each person that took part, but it turned out to be one of the most moving experiences of my life. The documentary we made of the work depicts the journey and reactions and as a result of showing this film more widely, in July 2006 the work was installed and then run by students of Thomas Tallis School in South London. In 2008 it is planned that “Eye & I” will be further extended into other environments and communities.
A film of Eye & I is available to view here