If you have a mental health condition that enables you to see life differently, then you might produce a different and unique perspective within your artworks. I’ve tried to use this thought to enable me to approach my new mixed media installation artwork ‘PYLON’, which is about a journey a psychotic young woman takes. I always seek to produce artworks that bring about a different angle on contemporary conversations.
We need to be free to express and talk about what we choose. For people to dictate how others should think is beyond me. In the western world, hearing voices has long been pathologized and seen as a problem for society. In places like Africa, Asia and Australasia voice hearing is often seen in a positive way. I personally feel this is a topic that needs further discussion.
Stigma is so severe for voice hearers, in order for other types of human experience to be seen as acceptable, we need to discuss openly about our thoughts and feelings. Be that in the everyday or about mental health.
We have been filming the video footage for my mixed media video installation ‘PYLON’. My collaborators and I prepared well for an intensive three days of filming. Wow, was it exhausting! Director of Photography, Rob Luckins kept us on schedule, his expertise proving valuable on the shoot. He also got what I was trying to portray within the film and help create the psychotic experience through his camera lens.
Prior to filming, with Amber Weyman I had been working on the character development of the main protagonist ‘Lily’. We did lots of rehearsals and workshops so Amber could make the transition from performing to an audience to being filmed, where the camera will pick up her every move. We also worked on hair, make up and costume. Amber looked great whilst performing to camera and our preparatory work payed off! She has made the role of Lily her own and gave the performance I had in my mind and more.
Sound recordist Richard Gott is creating the audio soundscape for ‘PYLON’. He has undertaken research for the project by reading academic and medical papers on psychosis. In his own words “Researching auditory hallucinations has been fascinating for me… understanding how they manifest, what type of sounds might be heard, how they are experienced and where the sounds appear to be located”. Richard has also interviewed me about the sound elements of a psychotic episode. We are using binaural sound to offer the art viewing public and idea of how a psychotic experience is.
After an exhausting three days of filming physically and mentally, all involved delivered and wow, did we capture what I had in my head!
Amber was in costume, looking like a strong young woman beginning her journey on an acute stage of a psychosis mission. Amber has lived dissociative disorder so she had witnessed people around her who had full blown psychosis, she had experienced close to what I wanted to portray which was another land, another world. An alternative reality, that only some would have encountered until now. I wish to break down stigma and share the journey of a young psychotic.
We also had experienced actress Gillian Tully arrive on set (with Limoni the chihuahua and her owner). Gillian who captured in her scene, the intensity of the paranoid experience. We were all on location to deliver a blow, to established Western world beliefs of psychosis, then Gillian’s presence appeared. Her Character, strong piercing and uncomfortable. Just the type of person you would not want to meet on an acute psychotic experience. Amber and Gillian were in unison, yet, going up against each other, in a psychotic clash.
Now the filming is complete we will soon begin editing the audio and visual elements together. I will also begin building the sculptural parts of the ‘PYLON’ installation with the help of fellow artist David McDiarmid and for the later stages of development of the sculptural element I am being assisted by Isla Mackenzie-Doyle.