Polar Exploration at ATTIC June 2013

Polar Exploration was an installation/ experience which simulated the Arctic experience as I envisage it. In my imagination I perceive the Arctic to be a blank space. A space where hopes, desires, fears and flights of fancy can be projected and displaced. The intention with Polar Exploration was to create a space where similar mental shifts can be evoked by providing space and time for day dreaming.

The work was influenced by Foucault's concept of  'other' spaces (heterotopia), Baudrillard's ideas around simulation, some thoughts I had had around adult play and Bachelard's ideas about attics and basements. Bachelard articulates the attic and basement are 'polar opposites', the attic is a space of rationality and clarity of mind. As the work was sited in an attic, making a space for contemplation and day dreaming seemed to fit neatly. Another ongoing interest is vague mathematics and fuzzy logic. In particular the space between binaries.

A version of ATTIC was made within itself, wendy house style. It formed a series of three spaces of differing sizes. One very small. The spaces were interlinked by a corridor. The fabrication was lofi. This was intentional so that the space wouldn't feel sterile and uncomfortable. Participants could bring themselves back into the real space, via the gaps in the walls where the diffusion gels over lapped and weren't stuck together. The foam flooring 'drifted' up the walls slightly.

The Experience
Participants were given a mini kendal mint cake and encouraged to eat it before entry so they would have a minty taste in their mouths.They were asked to remove their shoes, were given a pair of ear defenders and a cushion. They were told that they could stay in the space as long as they liked. The space smelled of mint.The walls were made of light diffusion gel, which made a light difficult to focus in. The floor was laid with white foam.

Participants could do whatever they wanted in the space.Most either sat or lay in the space. Some played. Some did gymnastics. Some slept. A few spoke, but most were quiet. Some said the experience felt peaceful or de-stressing. Some said the sensory diffusion allowed them to look inwards. Which was good for some , not so good for others. Some said they felt ok alone but uncomfortable when others came long. Some just felt uncomfortable. Some were annoyed at the crude fabrication. Some let their imagination fly and went other places in their minds.

I found the experience soporific...

What Next?
Making 'Polar Exploration' as part of Rapid Cycling at ATTIC was an experiment.The intention is to make the work again in another space. This time not site specifically, but as the space created within ATTIC


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