Pull it out of a hat: experiment with your creativity through unusual associations by writing poetry and making collages.

img_1089On Saturday 21st November I had participated in the Open Platform, a series of events taking place in the Wellcome Collection Reading Room. The event was called: Pull it out of a hat: experiment with your creativity through unusual associations by writing poetry and making collages.


Pull it out of a hat

My interest in the creative process started with a broken fridge handle. It gave me the opportunity to watch it, unrolling in slow motion, while I was building this bricolage solution to a problem how to glue a broken fridge door handle and to make it stick.
It was a chance to observe the idea forming step by step. Unusually, the process was slow enough to let me see the stages of development. Usually, ideas come fully formed, if not necessarily ready. Then they are developed, spinning through iterations, which can be consciously compared and assessed.
Nevertheless, the initial concept just emerges, and it is the process of inception that does not lend itself to analysis through introspection.
The other reason triggering the interest in the emergence of new ideas was my experience of creating to deadlines and watching others in the process of making new things.

Do artists want to understand their creativity? On the one hand, there is curiosity, on the other, a fear that dissecting will destroy the very ability. The fear is expressed in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke rejecting psychotherapy: “If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.” Quoted by psychologist Rollo May (1969:122). But even if artists hesitate to untangle personal sources, they can be curious about the process itself.

Psychoanalysis is a traditional approach to investigating creative mind. An artist Patricia Townsend researched creative experience of fellow artists, engaging with psychoanalytic theory, in particular, the concept of relations between mother and child. It is an archetypal creative situation (Townsend, 2014). Another familiar psychoanalytical concept commonly related to artistic practice is that of free associations. I will return to it later.

Neurological investigation of thought or consciousness is in its infancy. The translation between observable, objective neural phenomena and subjective mental ones so far eludes observation. There is no consensus in the scientific community if the mind will ever be completely understood and explained, being so subjective and ephemeral. I believe that this is due to technology we have on disposal. What can be done at the moment defines what we consider possible. Today we can monitor blood flow in the brain and infer activity in regions where it increases. There is a noticeable gap between regional events correlated with a mental state and understanding how electrical and chemical processes become thoughts.
The widely used metaphor for understanding is seeing. Self-reflective nature of the mind struggling to understand itself through workings of the brain resembles an attempt to see one’s face without a mirror. It cannot be done. A mirror also stands for a way to conceptualise the understanding. A reflected face is reversed, different to the one perceived from the outside, so maybe the translation from electric to mental can only be approximate?

One of the optimists, working on understanding human thought through the brain is professor Nancy C. Andreasen. Her investigation of creativity started with a passion for literature and curiosity about the literary creative process. Having a PhD in English Literature, she wished to investigate it in depth by learning about neural mechanisms underlying creative genius and completed a degree in neuroscience. She continues her career as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist.

To analyse the phenomenon, Andreasen introduced concepts of Ordinary and Extraordinary Creativity). The first one is manifested in the everyday use of language, with a new combination of words in every new sentence. The second is the quality distinguished in arts and science. To define Extraordinary Creativity and separate it from any odd, idiosyncratic mix of ideas Andreasen proposed three necessary conditions:
• It is original, showing new ways of looking at a subject or spotting new relationships.
• It is useful, although the utility is defined widely, concerned in producing emotions in others and inspiring wonder.
• It generates an outcome, a tangible manifestation (2005: 25-28).

As a starting point, Andreasen took testimonials of creative geniuses from fields of art and science such as Poincare or Tchaikovsky reporting how and in what circumstances, their breakthroughs occurred. They all shared the fact that new ideas emerged during a peaceful phase on the edge of sleep or in a state of a daydream when a mind is thinking freely, without inhibitions and internal censorship. Such a state characterised by low-frequency electrical activity in the brain. It is called a hypnagogic state.
Electrical activity in the brain is described as brainwaves (Wikipedia, 2016). A brainwave traces a pattern of neural oscillation – a rhythmic or repetitive neural activity in the central nervous system. A wave depicts a field generated by changing electric action potential of individual neurones. There are no ripples just a changing frequency, which can be simplified on a diagram forming a regular wave. Electrodes placed on the scalp can measure the electric action potential of an area of the brain.

Classification and short characteristic of Commonly mentioned brainwaves (Roberts, 2006)
• Delta (0.5-4Hz) dreamless sleep, unconsciousness or trance, states of deep relaxation.
• Theta (4-8Hz) creativity and memory consolidation, during transition between sleep and consciousness
• Alpha (8-12Hz) relaxed waking state
• Low beta/sensorimotor rhythm (12-14Hz) a state relaxed but alert, focused attention
• Beta (16-30Hz) agitation, activity, heightened mental ability and focus.

Assuming that twilight zone between sleep and alert consciousness is the time for creative thoughts Andreasen observed – using PET (positron emission tomography) – visualised and measured changes in regional blood flow in the brain, as mental activity changes from regular activity to the hypnagogic state. The areas activated when the brain entered hypnagogic state were association cortices. These are zones dedicated to linking input calculated by specialised parts such as visual or audio cortex, where single pieces of information can be connected (associated). Before a new creative thought is formed, multiple association cortices circulate thoughts in response to one another, unconstrained by the daytime logic and without a practical purpose to integrate associations with sensory or motor input (2005: 70-74). Given time, disorganised and meaningless associations self-organise, forming original thoughts. Andreasen hypothesises that ”extraordinary creativity is qualitatively different from ordinary creativity. The underlying neural processes are distinct. They proceed by tapping into the unconscious in ways that possessors of ordinary creativity alone are unable to do“ (2005: 77-78).
Free association is commonly mentioned in writing about creativity. It originates from psychoanalysis, but it is often used outside of the field, losing its technical meaning. In the general sense, it is a method of exploring thinking, in particular, primary process thinking (Andreasen, 2005: 68-70). Primary process thinking, the term coined by Freud, describes an unconscious and pre-verbal mental activity produced by id. It emphasises immediate fulfilment of wishes and follows a different logic than conscious thought, for instance, equates thought and action. Primary process thinking can be observed in dreams (Farlex, 2016).

Free association, as an investigative method, takes material from episodic memory and is not interested in conscious, temporary organisation of thoughts.
Episodic memory is autobiographical, recalling personal experiences as a sequence of events. It allows examining the past as well as projecting the future. It draws on freely wandering and undirected preverbal, associative thoughts of primary process thinking. It is less consciously accessible than semantic memory, which is an impersonal record of facts and concepts, factual information about the external world, shared with others (Andreasen, 2005: 71).

The connection between creativity and the hypnagogic state of the brain is explored by London scientist John Gruzelier, Emeritus Professor of Psychology (Goldsmiths, 2016). He explains that creativity, relying on new associations, is improved when the brain has an opportunity to connect separated memories, stressing the impact of reaching distant parts of the brain on the potential novelty of associations. His research argues that longer brain waves travel further, connecting remote areas of the brain. As a result slow, low-frequency theta waves produce more unconventional associations.

To test this hypothesis, Gruzilier designed an experiment boosting theta waves and tested in on musicians from the Royall College of Art (AAPB, 2011). It used neurofeedback treatment, monitoring brain activity, detecting its frequency. An individual could see their current type of their brain waves in the video game displayed on a screen. Randomly chosen participants learned to adjust particular aspects of their brain activity. Control groups were using different methods of enhancing performance. They were filmed performing music before, during and after six weeks cycle of neurofeedback. Experts assessing videotapes did not know which group or stage of the experiment any given tape represented.
The trial was successful. Students, who learned to slow their brainwaves, reported feeling improvement in their performance. This was confirmed by better multidimensional results of examinations. The enhancement of performance amongst the musicians working with neurofeedback was significantly higher than of any other control group. The result supports the connection between creativity and the hypnagogic state.

So far, creativity presents itself as an anarchic and random phenomenon. But between a vast number of random permutations of memories and a genuinely innovative thought lays the process of selection. John Suler (1980) states that creativity depends on control executed by the secondary process thinking over the primary one, suggesting some form of logical control over outcomes. Peter Howard (2006) provides experimental scans showing an increased activity of the part of the brain associated with conscious control over selecting outcomes. An original idea is a result of editing many possibilities to get the best one. Secondary process thinking does not equal conscious thought, and the fact that choosing takes place in the regions of the brain associated with conscious selection doesn’t mean that a person is aware of this process. In fact, the verification and selection happen much faster that conscious thoughts.

Talking about selection brings the subject of strategies used by artists. These are arbitrary constraints limiting an initial choice of ideas or materials. Working within self-imposed limits is easier. It is more manageable to produce, rearrange and choose the best from the smaller pool of options. Howard gives as an example of artist Kurt Schwitters giving himself a task to make a collage of material found in his wife’s waste paper basket (: 2006). Randomness is an established artistic strategy, with found objects taken as a starting point for artwork. This technique was employed for years by an artist Candy Jernigan (Contemporary Art Daily: 2014), taking her objects directly off New York sidewalks.

Using chance is a conscious effort to refresh associations by introducing an unexpected starting point. Another example of serendipity used as a creative tool is an automatic poetry produced by Dadaists. This last example was a direct inspiration behind “Pull it out of a hat” – a participatory event I ran in the Reading Room of the Wellcome Collection in November 2015.
It was a lighthearted experiment with creativity through unusual associations and switching from images to words.

The activity was designed to test if exercising random semantic relations has the positive impact on complexity and coherence of collages produced by participants. After a brief introduction about collage, participants made their first image. The group was creating a single image, and everybody was instructed to make their choices in relation to other cut outs, designing a coherent composition rather than scattered, separate pieces.
In the second part, as a way to introduce random semantic associations, participants took turns to pull a word of a hat and write a line of verse inspired by the word. Using a well-known technique, a person than folds a paper and passes it to next one. The words were a mixture of concrete and abstract terms.

Below is a sample of writing:
Decadence dances in Denmark
Your brain is full of positive thoughts
Cheese with style
Today is a new day
Afternoon @ Wellcome Collection
There were several customers stood in a line, there they waited
Glossy paper, glossy lips
Inspirations are everywhere
Out of abyss
You cannot pick who is your favourite
We all love socialising at those, also games, sports and parties
You have a job to offer a service
Educational systems offer varieties of…
Developing technology doesn’t mean civilisation
He was frightfully empty as he stood there

Afterwards, the sequence was read out loud. In the final part, the participants were given a second, identical set of cut outs to produce another collage.

In my opinion, there is some improvement in the cohesion of the second image; there are more grouping and relations.
This tongue in chick suggests that visual creativity can be stimulated by exposure to random associations in a different modality. Switching between modalities and using language or music as a source of inspiration for visual art is a well-established practice.

My favourite linguistic triggers are idioms, offering ready images with of their nonsensical, literary meaning.

To take a leaf beef out of somebody’s book
To take a leaf beef out of somebody’s book

I wonder what are the limits of imagination, limits of creativity? The early modern philosopher David Hume had an opinion, which stood out against the optimistic background of Enlightenment philosophy, which still influences popular belief. He wrote: “But though our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience.” (1748).
Neurological investigation of creativity more than two hundred years later confirms that a new thought is a reconfiguration of material stored in memory. The received wisdom of the art world says that originality is only for people with a very short memory. We cannot go beyond the boundaries of a human body with its mechanisms of perception and imagine beyond experience. Having said so, I suspect that mathematic is a way to overcome constraints of intuition and imagination, producing truly unthinkable worlds.

· Contemporary Art Daily, 2014. Candy Jernigan at Greene Naftali [online] Available at: <http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/2014/03/candy-jernigan-at-greene-naftali/&gt; [Accessed 21 October 2016].

· Flex, 2016 Medical Dictionary at: Thefreedctionary by Farlex [online] Available through [Accessed 18 October 16].

· Goldsmiths, University of London 2016. Professor John Gruzelier [online] Available at [accessed on 11 October 2016]

· Howard, P., 2006. Interview on Creative Genius, Programme 3. Interviewed by Ian Peacock. [radio] BBC Radio 4 [online] Available at: , [accessed 11 October 2016]

· Hume, D., 1748. Of the Origin of Ideas in: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Vol. XXXVII, Part 3. The Harvard Classics. Eliot, C.W. ed. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14; [online] Bartleby.com, 2001. Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

· May, R., 1969. Love and Will. New York: W. W. Norton

· Roberts, G., 2006. Free your mind: a scientific approach to unleashing creativity, Independent [online] Available at: [Accessed on 11 October 2016]

· Suler, J.R., 1980. Primary process thinking and creativity. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 88(1), Jul 1980, 144-165. [online] Available at: , [Accessed on 11 October 2016]

· Townsend, P., 2014. A Life Of Its Own: The Relationship Between Artist, Idea And Artwork. Free Associations: Psychoanalysis and Culture, Media, Groups, Politics Number 65, February 2014, pp. 99-118, [Accessed 13 September 2016].

· Wikipedia, 2016. Neural Oscillation [online] Available at [accessed 13 July 2016]


LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton

Houghton Hall June – 24th October 2015

JT at Houghton 1

The green and pleasant Norfolk countryside is as far removed from Roden Crater in Arizona, as it is from a white cube of an art gallery; nevertheless this is where James Turrell exhibition takes place. Houghton Hall is a Palladian villa built by the first British Prime Minister sir Robert Walpole in the 18th century, belonging to Turrell’s collector David Cholmondeley. The Hall is surrounded by ‘pleasure grounds’ – how the gardens used to be called, home to Cholmondeley’s collection of contemporary sculpture and a tribe of white deer.

The show surveys every decade of Turrell’s practice from the 1960s until today. It contains Light Projections from 1960s, Shallow Space from 1970s, etchings from late 1980s, Space Division from 1990s, Skyspace from early 2000 and current Transmission Holograms and Tall Glass piece using LED technology. The works are placed in five separate locations within the Hall, other buildings and gardens. At the entrance visitors are given maps of the grounds, pointing to various artworks on display. Architecture, landscape and wildlife blissfully distract a visitor on the way. James Turrell is renown for creating conditions for experience rather than objects and here, it starts with a sensation of a treasure hunt, of enchantment and anticipation.

Turrell belongs to the generation of American West Coast artists who shifted the focus of their work from objects to experiences, and gave viewer the power to complete their art. This dematerialised work aims to be a catalyst for sensations, favouring perception and visceral reactions over intellectual discourse. The effect of his work is to make you stop, focus, go beyond thought and language, feel and experience.

Two pieces from the collection of David Cholmondeley: St Elmo’s Breath, 1992 – Space Division and Seldom Seen, 2002 – Skyspace employ fundamental characteristics of Turrell practice: prolonged immersion, ethereal atmosphere, visceral immediacy and focus on changing response of eye and mind. The pieces work with somatic reactions, and deeply set cultural signifiers of light and darkness, tracing a link between bodily and cultural through the universal sense of spirituality evoked by light.

St Elmo’s Breath is placed in the 18th century Water Tower, in the far end of the park. It provides an overwhelming, immersive experience, preceded by a leap of trust to enter darkness. If there is a subject of this work it is a transformation of human experience of space in a very low light, reaction to contrast and gradual accommodation to the environment. The art is static and minimal, still stimulating a wave of sensations in visitor’s head. That is why it is so engaging. There is nothing what can be misunderstood or dismissed, it is happening beyond an intellect or discourse. Turrell gives his viewer a chance to be; to concentrate on bodily adjustments and reactions of mind. Getting into a Water Tower’s Space Division is a step beyond and into one’s head at the same time.

The second piece from the permanent collection is the site-specific work Seldom Seen, 2002 – Skyspace. It is a silver, oak clad pavilion, raised on stills to the tree canopy level. The white cube of interior is distorted only by a ring of benches and a square aperture cut in the roof. The ambience is removed and pure, with the double doors creating a symbolic passage to different reality of this meditative chamber.

St Elmo’s Breath gives an access to Jungian collective consciousness, mental space where one is connected to deep, geological past, as in Sugimoto’s essay Time exposed; while Seldom Seen through its brilliant lightens and clarity prompts some unspecified, spiritual, utopian future. Theses are time machines, one going forward one backward.

The works from Light Projections series recall Derek Jarman’s last movie Blue, when the blind, dying director declares:

In the pandemonium of image / I present you with the universal Blue / Blue an open door to soul / An infinite possibility / Becoming tangible,

his words accompanied by a presence of a deep, cobalt colour field of a screen.

The same could be said about Turrell’s work. In the pandemonium of image he presents simplicity and stillness, which at a closer look is not at all static, with light being a release of energy from burning. Here is a reminder of fundamental paradoxes and contradictions in serenity coming from destruction. His work is elemental and evokes cosmic timelessness as much as human bodily experience, linking the two and putting viewer’s existence in the framework of ethereal physics.

Station to Station

Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening is a multi-disciplinary project by Los-Angeles based artist Doug Aitken, which was hosted by the Barbican Centre 27.06.15-26.07.15. The exhibition combined contemporary art, music, dance, graphic design and film. The Barbican ‘live-exhibition’ was based on the original Station to Station project, a 4000 miles, 24 days train journey across the USA from New York to San Francisco, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean which took place in 2013.


The STS took over most of the Barbican, with the headquarters in the level 3 Art Gallery; opened to the Sculpture Court with Yurt Installations by Urs Fisher and screening of Kenneth Anger films. The court was also used for evening slideshows of Stephen Shore work Winslow, Arizona 9/19/13. There are two more Yurt Installations on the Lakeside terrace: the Model Universe by Liz Glyn and Ernesto Neto step-in sculpture.
The Curve gallery is still showing (until the 6th of September) Light Echoes by Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank. IMG_0947There was also The Vinyl Factory Press, a mobile unit parked inside the spacious Silk Street Entrance. There were rehearsals, conversations and performances in the gallery, concerts in the Hall and screenings in the Cinema. This overwhelming wealth of happenings was ordered into a very clear programme and timetable, allowing orientation and planning.


An epicentre of STS – the Art Gallery was free and open – in every sense, free of charge and physically open to the Sculpture Court, allowing wandering in and out of the intense space filled with sound and images onto the sunny (most of the time) courtyard with colourful yurts and deckchairs. The centre of the gallery was filled by wrap-around video installations showing previously unseen footage from the US STS 2013. Artists in residence Doug Aitken (present most of the time) and his collaborator Austin Meredith edited sound and images live. The screening could have been watched from the big cushions scattered on the floor or from the first floor, overlooking the space. It was enough to pull apart curtains, hold together by Velcro, separating a screening room well to be in both places at once, immersed in a confluence of sounds from simultaneous activities. The first floor was hosting evolving Art Residencies, for instance Marcus Coates: Answer Painting, with questions left by public on the walls of his open studio.

Besides the video installation there are a few stable reference points: Tal R: Rosa Pagoda – a live woodblock Studio. It sits on a temporary, metal platform within the gallery, an exhibition of Olafur Eliason kinetic drawing machine and its drawings made during the train journey or the Poster Project. IMG_0972The reIMG_0971st was a flux of activity as the happening invited a diverse range of disciplines and artists. There were some well-known names like Ed Rusha and some local artists constantly changing during its 30 days.IMG_0970




The Original

The Barbican action revives the original train journey, as it is partly an exhibition of the previous event and partly a graft of its spirit onto a static ground. The name ‘living-exhibition’ makes sense as it moves in time, if not in space and transforms,

some artefact but first of all providing an audience with a new stimulus at every visit. This constant renewal seduces a visitor to return again and again.


“Ever changing and accessible” would be my most concise description of what was happening in the Barbican. The most outstanding characteristic of the STS was it’s relaxed openness. It was welcoming, focused on process and ever changing. The free access and open doors created an easy-going atmosphere of a summer festival. I loved massive cushions scattered around the video well, inviting to lounge, unwind and succumb into a trance of watching. IMG_0979These were great clues for visitors how to feel and behave. I had the ease, lightness and a spirit of communal enjoyment. Some residency spaces were separated from the public to enable artists to actually produce any work but still, everything was intended to reveal and engage into a process of making art. It was such a different experience to what we usually encounter going to a gallery.

Residential transplant

The second, stationary London iteration of STS invites to revisit the trope of the east to west coast American trip, with all the poetic implications of freedom. How this project works in a tamed residential context of the Barbican? Was it a success? Can it be seen only for what it is, without comparisons to the experience of an epic train journey? What do I think about transplanting a nomadic action into a solid space keeping changes only to the temporal dimension?

The concept is great and placing it into a popular establishment guarantees a large and varied audience, which it fully deserves. Of course it must be different, the question being ‘It is a museum piece about the original STS action?’.


The happening has taken over as much of Barbican as possible without making life of residents a misery and paralysing a normal functioning of the Theatre and the Concert Hall. Station to Station did not reach the optimal – in my opinion – level of noise and commotion, appropriate to a desert party, which I dreamed about, precisely because it was not in a desert. As Barbican sits in the middle of a residential complex, the organisers needed to respect and accommodate their neighbours. I think that it was as good as it could have been in the given location, although it left me wishing for some chaos. I think it was a great experience.




I have forgotten what this competition was exactly about, except of the main topic ‘Identity’. The quotation from Margaret Mead “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else” opening the exposition of the topic resonated with my musings that one builds an identity by identify oneself with.. and by differentiating oneself from.. . I kept reading on demographical factors building it and questions about identity in the globalised world. The author of the text expressed their hope that flexible identities can protect us from confrontation. But do we really ever have fixed and static sense of identity?

Is an identity stable or fluid? Do we even have a single identity when we do not even have a monolithic sense of self?Linguistic analysis show that “metaphoric system for our inner lives (…) is based on a fundamental distinction between (…) the Subject and one or more Selves. The Subject is the locus of consciousness, subjective experience, reason, will and our ‘essence’, everything what makes us who we uniquely are. There is at least one Self and possibly more. The Selves consist of everything else about us – our bodies, our social roles, our histories, and so on” from George Lakoff & Mark Johnson Philosophy in the Flesh.

And it takes me to another question, how identity relates to personality? All the questions and no answers but i see the new interest emerging.

By the way, the competition.

Mindstich exhibited

20150608_155011 I was excited about taking part in the mental health awareness event: Mind/Body? in the Shepherds Bush Library. As an artist enjoying showing work in public spaces, outside of art galleries, I believe that a public library is an amazing space to encounter new, diverse audiences.

IMG_0891The Shepherd Bush Library occupies a modern building, with glass walls. It was posing a challenge how to exhibit an artwork. But as they say, a problem is an opportunity in disguise. I used the windows as light boxes, framing and spacing the work. I was a great opportunity to show the new work, and to talk to people during making collages.IMG_0895 IMG_0895[1] IMG_0896 IMG_0897 IMG_0898  IMG_0892

Mindstich Story

I have never worked for so long on a single project, especially one having only seven images. I started working intuitively, got stranded, found the error, resolved the problem and return to the initial concept. I see it now as a successful research project where the practice led to research, which in turn clarified and developed practice.

I became interested in the scientific search for relations between mind and body, having learned that not only can mind influence body but it happens vice versa too. The reciprocity fascinated me as I was accustomed to a traditional way of seeing body and mind as separated.
I enthusiastically tracked links between hormones and essential human passions, like anger or lust. As a framework for the new project, I took the biblical concept of Seven Deadly Sin (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy & pride) .Domesticity is a common subject in my work. Here, interpreting a scientific subject I wanted to contrast it with a naïve form, hence the stitched sampler emerged as my medium of choice.

First attempt

My first attempt looked completely different to the ready work. I was using bold red, corresponding with anger, but it jus did not look right.
With the next one I was still using colour but toned it down, and restricted to the letters. I preferred a chemical structure camouflaged by white thread on white canvas. I made the first sampler Wrath, (Working title was then 7 Deadly Sins) show it in a summer exhibition and left it there.


I was not satisfied and did not want to mechanically make more pieces, but did not know how to progress. The question was working its way in the background and more than half a year later I added proverbs. I was not too precious about my Wrath, besides stitching takes time, so I reused it, pulled out blue thread and dropped a piece of wisdom onto the canvas. It was all going well for wrath, lust, gluttony, sloth and pride. My Internet research for chemical correlates was bringing sufficient results.

I was constructing the chemical/proverb twosomes with a clear conscience until I had to face envy and greed. And it was not clear, and it was not straightforward anymore. I was looking for advice how to tackle these two, but not being able to articulate my point and explain what I was doing I did not find any. That was about the time, when continually searching for a way out of this mess, I came across neuroendocrinology. It is a discipline investigating interaction between nervous and endocrine systems. It promised some answers, as many of the chemicals in the work were hormones.

Sloth (serotonin, dopamine)

I dived into Nick Neave’s Hormones and Behavoiur, introducing neuroendocrinology to students of social sciences (promising) and emerged few weeks later knowing that research informs only about rather fragmented observations. The findings were correlations but not causes. And here I was looking for the headline and sound bites. I was felt I was doing something wrong; trying to be scientific about my fantasies.

Quotation from Frittjof Capra:
During [these] periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight.

I cut it up an put into a hat

With the hindsight I quite enjoy the final part. The more I was looking for the answers the more I realised that they do not exist. And in the utter gloom came the realisation that I had lost sight of anything else but a scientific proof. I somehow missed the point: mixing samplers, folk morality and a quest for scientific proof? In a spectacular breakthrough I rediscovered the whole idea of converse philosophies. And it reminded me that it all came from,  the interplay between incomparable word orders, from making sense of these incomparable, incompatible sources, forming a single world view.

I was not illustrating a research report and I did not need a proof anymore. I could make up a fantastic structure as long as I label it accordingly. Working within a visual language of chemical structures I exploited the linguistic analogy and randomly pulled their cut pieces out of a hat, borrowing Dadaist method of making a poem.

Envy (Dadaist poem)

Emotions are the subject shared by both scientific enquiry and moral philosophy expressed in proverbs. Folk morality is straightforward and timeless. It presents its truths with conviction, not asking for a proof. Scientific truths are settled by following a method, controlled, and living only until disproven. A sampler for me represents the epistemology diametrically opposed to the scientific one. I intended to trap and interweave these two, reflecting a mismatch and commotion of conflicting ways of making sense of the word.

love samplers and tea towels, this disinherited art. I remember them from the kitchens of my great aunts living in small villages of Southern Poland. In cold, formal rooms ruled framed behind glass, hand coloured religious prints but the kitchens were decorated with homemade needlework, pinned straight onto a wall. They constituted a second, closer to the Earth order of moral guidance; being in the middle of the decorative hierarchy; below Sacred Hearts or Virgin Maries residing in the day rooms but above post card landscapes. The samplers had a picture in the middle and a proverb stitched on the top and bottom. My education was taking place in silence, during breakfasts and samplers turned out to be a lasting part of my visual library.

Envy (Dada)