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A new science exhibition explores the human mind

Science Gallery Bengaluru’s ongoing digital exhibition ‘PSYCHE’ looks at the complexities of the human mind in socio-political and cultural contexts

A still from the audio-visual installation Black Men’s Minds, ca. 2019–2022 – an audio-visual installation which rests upon the voices of black men who are often missing in conversations on mental health, trauma and stigma. (D-Fuse, Richard Edwards and Stephen Rudder)

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The human mind is a treasure trove of information but also a gold mine of secrets waiting to be unearthed. A new ongoing online exhibition curated by Science Gallery Bengaluru is aiming to explore more about the human mind by exploring some vivid questions: Why do we think? Why do we dream? Why are we emotional beings? Is intelligence and the ability to think and feel restricted to humans alone?

PSYCHE – a 45-day exhibition developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance, The Wellbeing Project and Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent – explores the human mind and the complexities of thinking and feeling through a variety of exhibits, interactive experiences, films and other live programmes.

Also read: Our brains remain active all the time, says a new Cambridge study

The virtual exhibition brings together philosophers, neuroscientists, artists, psychologists, filmmakers, sociologists, writers and performers. Curated with the advice of a multidisciplinary panel of scholars - Richard Wingate, Sanjeev Jain, Ulrike Kluge and Vikram Patel, and curatorial advisors - Jill Bennett, Marius Kwint, Natasha Ginwala and Ruth Garde, the exhibition features 10 exhibits, 6 films and 40+ live programmes, including workshops, masterclasses and public lectures.

“In PSYCHE, we explore the human mind in a most unusual journey where we try to understand the mind with the help of our mind. We pay close attention to both, the maladies as well as the health of our sentient selves. As always, we unpack objects of research inquiry across research disciplines at Science Gallery Bengaluru, to further our mandate of bridging the gap between research and the public,” Jahnavi Phalkey, founding director, Science Gallery Bengaluru, says in a news release.

Some of the highlights from the exhibition include ‘Black Men’s Minds’, an audio-visual installation – created by artists Stephen Rudder, Richard Edwards and D-Fuse – which rests upon the voices of black men who are often missing in conversations on mental health, trauma and stigma.

Stills from the exhibit Playing with Reality, ca. 2022. Created by the London-based creative studio Anagram, this is an interactive experience about how we distinguish what is real from what is not.
Stills from the exhibit Playing with Reality, ca. 2022. Created by the London-based creative studio Anagram, this is an interactive experience about how we distinguish what is real from what is not. (Barry Gene Murphy and May Abdalla)

‘McGill Pain Questionnaire’ visually investigates the objective method for appraising pain, in relation to a subjective experience against the backdrop of a classic clinical pain assessment tool. By combining the McGill Pain Questionnaire, an objective pain measuring tool, with subjective lived experience, Sydney-based artist Eugiene Lee has created a self-portrait installation. The exhibit reflects upon the tension between the clinical system that is ultimately removed from its subject, and the human experience that is built through layers of social interactions, emotions, and memories of lived experience

Meanwhile, ‘HAMLETS Live’ is a 6-part live performance that explores (Shakespeare’s) Hamlet’s inner monologues in a world that is strongly dictated by the real and hyperreal aspects of social media.

The Asylum – which explores the history of mental institutions in India through the medium of texts and images – prompts reflections on institutionalization, treatment, and care of people diagnosed with mental illnesses. The people behind this exhibit are Alok Sarin, a practising clinical psychiatrist in New Delhi, and Pratima Murthy, Sanjeev Jain of NIMHANS.

The exhibits will also feature interactive experiences such as ‘Playing with Reality’. Created by the London-based creative studio Anagram, this is an interactive experience about how we distinguish what is real from what is not. The exhibit uses an extract from the award-winning virtual reality documentary Goliath, and follows the story of John, a man who lives with paranoid schizophrenia. After a long and difficult period spent in a psychiatric institution, John finds friendship and support in the world of online gaming. ‘Playing with Reality’ takes the story of the ‘unreal’ worlds of the video game and the psychotic episode to explore what makes us see and understand reality ourselves.

“The mind is surely the most complex aspect of our lived experience but also the least understood and, often, misunderstood,” Vikram Patel, professor of global mental health, Harvard and academic advisor, says in the release. “PSYCHE offers a unique opportunity to generate awareness and conversations which can help us bridge the chasm between science and society on this fascinating subject.”

You can register for the exhibition here. PSYCHE can be viewed for free in English and is also available for viewing in Kannada. The exhibition will be showcased till 15 May 2022.

Also read: Scientists teach a bunch of human brain cells to play a video game

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