- Chisenhale Gallery
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Beside is both a video work and a live work, commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery.
The live event was carried out as part of Chisenhale Gallery's 21st Century events programme, where two specialists met for the first time to discuss potential correlations between their two very different subjects. Sian Harding; Professor of Cardiac Pharmacology at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College met with Simone Severini; Reader in Physics of Information at University College London to discuss Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and quantum entanglement. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or 'broken heart syndrome' is a medical condition in which intense emotional or physical stress – most commonly bereavement – can lead to rapid and severe heart muscle weakness, causing the heart’s left ventricle to change shape. Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs at molecular level, where two spatially separate particles form a special connection and act and react in unison.
The work focussed on the phenomena of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and quantum entanglement as manifestations of the inexplicable or the incomplete, located within scientific enquiry. Both present situations in which the self-other boundary becomes physically blurred: when two individual particles act as one, or when the emotional experience of losing someone close to you is manifested physically. These two fields of research have no scientific connection, but sat beside one another in this specially convened discussion.
Before the event began, two 'gallery assistants' asked visitors waiting in the lobby to complete a questionnaire, during which they yawned repeatedly. Once the audience were seated, they removed four people from the audience who had reciprocated their yawns and took them to an offsite space where they were guided through a psychological and neurological exercise, designed to test self-other boundaries. They were returned to the gallery half-way through the event.
The video work was made for Chisenhale's online commission, and developed from the live work to bring together scientific and medical material, including scans and digital imaging used to visualise Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and quantum entanglement, and a conversation with Anna Sebastian who describes feelings of permeable self/other boundaries. Subtitled text from Anna's description of her experience shifts any pronouns from I/me to we/us, creating a personal identification as collective. This material is combined with audio recordings made during the offsite neurological exercise carried out during the live event.