Traditionally the artistic left-brain indulgences have been diametrically opposed to the analytical right-brain disciplines. However, in today’s hyper-connected world, the best marketing comes when you embrace the creative tension between left-brain and right-brain. Powerful storytelling will always be the best way to motivate people’s behaviour, but data and analytics can help brands get under the skin of that behaviour. DigitasLBi Chief Creative Officer, Chris Clarke, and Chief Data Scientist, Jason Kodish, will battle it out on-stage before using real data gleaned from the audience to create compelling “stories” in real-time. Using these practical examples they will demonstrate that the best, most compelling narratives come from a combination of data and storytelling. They will prove once and for all that the scientists and the poets should join forces.
The Unconscious Revisited at the Freud Museum
*Exciting things are happening at the Freud Museum London this summer. A century after Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary ideas reached a wider public, his final home, dedicated to preserving his legacy, has invited artists, designers, writers and performers to revisit Freud’s seminal paper The Unconscious (1915)
Using a combination of psychological games, scientific and historical information and engaging displays and workshops, The Festival of the Unconscious will encourage visitors to think and learn about the unconscious mind and how it influences our behaviour.
The Museum will become a strange and mysterious place, where writings, objects and artistic works will offer insights into unconscious experience. Newly commissioned films by animators from Kingston University will weave through the house; sound and video installations by London-based art project Disinformation will occupy the dining room, and an installation by stage designers from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, inspired by the work of cosmologist Carlos Frenk, will spectacularly transform Freud’s study. Visitors can contemplate their own unconscious associations through a personal display developed by Julian Rothenstein, co-author of the best-selling ‘Psychobox’. Finally there will be the unique opportunity of reclining and free-associating on a psychoanalytic couch, in Freud’s bedroom.
An early diagram from Freud’s ‘pre-analytic’ work, showing how the brain protects itself from unpleasant experiences by dissipating stimuli from the outside world.
Artistic contributions include The Dream Collector by Melanie Manchot, a 5-channel synched video and sound installation filmed in Mexico City – on view for the first time in the UK. Collaborative artists Brass Art present a video piece which uses Kinect scanners to capture intimate-scaled performances in the museum with sound composed by Monty Adkins. Other works include ‘the unconscious project’ by art therapists teaching on the MA Art Psychotherapy course at Goldsmiths, University of London, while Sarah Ainslie and Martin Bladh will display works offering modern takes on the ‘Thematic Apperception Test’ and the Rorschach ink blot test.
A season of wide-ranging and imaginative events, conferences and workshops accompany the exhibition. Highlights include Digging the Unconscious, a participatory archaeological dig in Freud’s garden, with performance artistlili Spain on 9 August, and a major interdisciplinary conference with keynote speaker Mark Solms on 26/27 September. You can unlock your unconscious with workshops in drama, poetry and art, while Hip Hop poet Reveal will perform and talk about Freestyle Rap and its relation to unconscious communication.
After the exhibition is over, the Festival events still continue with a major conference jointly organised with the British Journal of Psychotherapy. Mentalization and the Unconscious will take place on 28th November, with keynote speakers Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Catherine Freeman, Jean Knox, and Mary Target. Co-organiser and chair for the day is BJP editor, Ann Scott.
Have you ever done something without knowing why?
Despite the fact that the term is now associated with Freud, the existence of unconscious processes in the mind was recognised long before him. What Freud introduced was the revolutionary notion of a dynamic unconscious, working in a different way from consciousness, with its own kind of logic. He posited a part of the mind in which ideas associated with ‘wishful impulses’, childhood experiences and unacceptable thoughts are hidden from conscious awareness but continue to motivate our behaviour. Starting with his own dreams, he went on to show that the unconscious reveals itself not only in the unexplained symptoms of ‘mental illness’ but in countless manifestations of everyday life.
We laugh at a joke, but we don’t know why. A slip of the tongue reveals an embarrassing thought or a hidden intention. Thoughts come into our head, but where do they come from? We repeat patterns of self-destructive behaviour or plague ourselves with irrational fears. It is as if everything we do or say has a hidden dimension, a sub-text. The discovery of the unconscious means that we are no longer ‘masters in our own house’ – we literally do not know who we are.
In 1915, Freud wrote his paper on The Unconscious, which was an attempt to give scientific account of how the unconscious works. It is not an entirely successful paper, grappling as he is with the ‘unknown’. He makes hypotheses, modifies them, tries again. Freud often finds himself in the position of a cosmologist, trying to give an account of what is in a black hole, or what ‘cold dark matter’ is composed of. They just don’t know. But they know dark matter and black holes exist, obey their own laws and affect the galaxies in which they find themselves.
Freud’s metapsychology may not have the same impact as his captivating case histories or his books on dreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue, but his 1915 paper established ‘the unconscious’ as the principal object of psychoanalysis and the key term of its theory.
The Festival of the Unconscious invites visitors to explore Freud’s challenging idea through talks, performances and a major exhibition. As befits such an elusive concept, most of the works on display are not designed to transmit knowledge, but to evoke something of the visitor’s own unconscious. By engaging with them, we hope visitors may catch a glimpse of a world that is both strange and familiar.
*Information taken from The Freud Museum’s website.
Saturday 11 July 2015, 5pm
Penzance Literary Festival
A screening of poetry films curated and presented by Zata Banks.
PoetryFilm is the influential research art project founded by British artist Zata Banks in 2002, celebrating poetry films and other experimental text/image/sound material.
The Pure Tongue exhibition opens today at Galeria Arsenał and runs until 20 August 2016. Artists in the show include Piotr Bosacki and Érik Bullot, whose artworks have previously been shown at PoetryFilm events. Information taken from the gallery’s website is below.
From 19 June 2015 to 20 August 2015
Curator: Agata Chinowska
Place: Galeria Arsenał, ul. A. Mickiewicza 2, Białystok
Artists: Ad manum (Anna Koźbiel / Adam Walas), Piotr Bosacki, Érik Bullot, Ex-artists’ collective (Anikó Loránt / Tamás Kaszás), Ferenc Gróf, Little Warsaw, Małgorzata Niedzielko, Paulina Ołowska, Daniel Salomon, Slavs and Tatars, Société Réaliste
The point of departure for the Pure Tongue exhibition is Ludwik Zamenhof’s thought and his concept of a neutral platform of communication which would lead to cultural and ethnic divisions being overcome. His experience first from multilingual Białystok, then from multicultural Warsaw and, most of all, the situation of the Jewish diaspora motivated him to develop new social ideas whose final result was a universal international language. The first idea Zamenhof formed was Hillelism, involving reduction of social and mental differences between Jews and other European societies. Zamenhof believed that it took a universal language for the Jewish nation to peacefully coexist with others. As he worked on, Zamenhof’s premises became more general, now relating to all people, and the modified concept was termed Homaranismo. Agnieszka Jagodzińska wrote: “Zamenhof went down the road from Jewish particularism to all-encompassing universalism”. Even though Zamenhof is best known as the originator of Esperanto, his ideas reached far beyond the linguistic field, including social, political and religious matters. First and foremost, Zamenhof was the precursor of multiculturalism and he wanted Esperanto to be not only a tool of communication but also a platform facilitating better understanding among nations and, as a consequence, effecting changes in social relations.
The main idea behind numerous attempts at developing a universal (perfect) language was to create a unification tool. The search for a perfect language encouraged a desire to return to a primal (pure) language. This was also the intention of Ludwik Zamenhof – to develop a “pure tongue” (Heb. safa berura) that would create harmony between nations. Walter Benjamin intuitively steered his reflections on translation towards the search for a perfect tongue. In his essay “The Task of the Translator”, he wrote: “Rather, all suprahistorical kinship of languages rests in the intention underlying each language as a whole – an intention, however, which no single language can attain by itself but which is realized only by the totality of their intentions supplementing each other: pure language.”
One of the main themes of the Pure Tongue exhibition is the myth of the Tower of Babel. The confusion of languages (L. confusio linguarum) that is found in it is regarded as punishment. Therefore, an important point of reference within the context of this exhibition is the reversal of the significance of the myth discussed by Umberto Eco in his book entitledThe Search for the Perfect Language. Eco cites theories suggesting that confusion – synonymous with multiplication or diversity – may be interpreted as a positive phenomenon, whose effects can be, for instance, observed in the development of ethnic bonds and territorial status. This view casts a new light on a wide range of questions pertaining to the politics of language, such as, for instance, the national language versus minority languages, marginalization of minority languages, language as an expression of ethnic identity, determination of one universal language in view of multiculturalism and multiethnicity. These problems seem most topical in an era of European integration. The European Union has decided that official languages of the community are the languages of all the member states. This was done to avoid conflict which would surely arise from introducing an official language that would at once be the language of one of the members (possibly English). It seems likely, however, that further expansion of the UE – and the resulting increase in the number of official languages of the community, will force the Union to choose one international auxiliary language.
The question of an artificial language is also related to the politics of language; developing new languages or eliminating them is also part of this politics. Naturally, politics can transform language to serve its purposes. It is enough to remember totalitarian systems, including e.g. Fascism or Stalinism, whose interference in language was very forceful. Language has always been with those in power. Also, the choice of alphabet, the visual recording of language, was a political and cultural decision, e.g. the choice of the Latin alphabet suggested belonging to a specific cultural region. This led to several linguistic revolutions, as, for instance, Latinization of the Ottoman Turkish language implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey in 1928 or failed attempts to Cyrillicize Polish language in Polish territories under Russian rule in the middle of the 19th century.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that human thought is determined by language and, as a result, it is language that conditions our perception of the world and state of mind. The thesis that “thinking and language is the same” means that language – to some extent – contains an image of the world. In the light of this concept, changes occurring in language as a consequence of globalization and communication networks (blogs, social services, internet communicators, mobile applications, etc) and related iconography (e.g. emoticons) seem very inspiring. The dominant language here is English – in the state of constant revolution, adopting it to never-ending changes in the grammar of electronic communication.
To sum up, the Pure Tongue exhibition centers on the question of universal communication; it explores the reasons for the desire to achieve it, the motivations behind creating artificial tools of communication in its various forms, including language, alphabet, lettering, or codes, e.g. the Morse code. Inspired by Ludwik Zamenhof’s ideas, it analyses his concepts within the context of current phenomena, both linguistic as well as political or national ones.
translated by Monika Ujma
 Agnieszka Jagodzińska, Ludwik Zamenhof wobec kwestii żydowskiej, Kraków – Budapeszt 2012.
Walter Benjamin, The Task of the Translator [first printed as introduction to a Baudelaire translation, 1923], in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn; ed. & intro. Hannah Arendt (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1968), pp. 69-82.
I am delighted to be featured in the Wenlock Poetry Festival anthology 2015. Many thanks to the festival team.