In making decisions we discover ourselves

This is a shameless plug to rally Londoners to attend an art exhibition that’s going on in the city until the beginning of September. It’s called Decisions and if you live in London it’s one of the most value for money, interesting, stimulating and enjoyable things that you could spend 2 hours of your life and £15 of your hard earned cash doing, in my humble opinion anyway…

Carsten Höller is quite frankly is a genius. I would love to get inside his head and analyse the electrical synapses, but here he is at the Southbank laying his wonderful creations down and letting members of the public immerse themselves in his uncertain world. See, Mr Höller is actually a scientist with a PhD in phytopathology. A quick google search tells me that is the study of plant diseases and more specifically; “an interdisciplinary science that includes knowledge of botany, microbiology, crop science, soil science, ecology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology.” Glad we’ve cleared that up!

You can certainly see his logical and analytical mind in his creations as he has put together the world’s most complicate clock and created a wall that has blocks of colour with exactly 50% less pigment in than the following block, which are also half the size and includes an ugly looking aphid perched in the middle. This is no coincidence as they are known for their asexual reproduction. In fact in one season they can produce over 600,000,000,000 offspring! Nature and art come together in this wonderfully bizarre, endlessly confusing and yet strangely familiar way.

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Another example of how he keeps you feeling unstable is the Upside Down Goggles. On the day I went the sun was shining its rays down over the Southbank and the Thames was glittering. My friend and I were out on the balcony of the Hayward Gallery with this space like contraption on our head that inverts your vision. You see the world upside down. This is incredibly disorientating and you struggle to walk even a few steps without some serious wobbles and some not so serious giggles! An American scientist has worn these goggles for 8 days in an experiment and reported that whilst some objects were still upside down, most of his vision actually returned to normal. After visiting the gallery I now understand why the Hayward Gallery (ʎɹǝןןɐb pɹɐʍʎɐɥ) sign has been turned upside down!

As I said, it was a gorgeous, sunny day when I visited Höllers exhibition and London had never looked so beautiful, but all the fun was definitely happening inside the Hayward Gallery. ‘Decisions’ really does throw you into varying psychological and physiological states. In other words it destabilises you. That is what the best experiences always do!

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I have some final reflections on decisions, to make this experience relevant to why I’ve decided to write about it on Blogosophy. Firstly, life become so much richer when you pursue routes and make decision which are at first unapparent. Secondly, an obvious way to make decisions is through the balance of costs and benefits, but it is not always obvious what they may be and indeed there is often much uncertainty and prediction involved with doing this. Thirdly, people do not make decisions in isolation, the external world puts its unrelenting forces on us and we can end up succumbing to these constraints.

Decisions are interesting things. You can change your path, alter your experience, make a friend, venture into the unknown; go to a crazy art exhibition if you will, all by making a decision. Embrace it, enjoy it. In making decisions we discover ourselves!

Photo credits

Matt Brown: Carsten Holler Slides

Lawrence Rogers: Pill Clock

Nicolas Mirguet: Carsten Holler Experience

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