Friday, October 14, 2011

Mind over Matter at Shoreditch

An exhibition has opened recently at Shoreditch Town Hall featuring the stories and portraits of older people who donated their brains to help scientists in a fight against dementia. I didn't expect much from it but now having it visited I should say that was the best photo gallery I've seen so far.

Mind over Matter at Shoreditch Town Hall

It's not really much one can do with some shabby basement space after hanging your pictures on the walls, but by adding carefully adjusted lights, background sounds and a bit of creativity a fantastic effect could be achieved.

First you see the portrait of a man or woman and read their story pinned near the photo, and several minutes later in another room you suddenly recognise that story being narrated by that very person from the speakers in the dark corner. You also notice some short phrases on the walls here and there in places which you didn't think were the part of the exhibition. Then suddenly the next room (you got there through a hole in the wall) contains no portraits like the ones you walked through before but is empty apart from medical containers for human organs on the floor and white coats on the hangers. Then you realise you no longer hear the monologues read in old man's voice but just some lifeless background noise. You leave that room, take another turn and enter a hall with black rectangles on its walls instead of the photos. Coming close you see that they're not plain black, just very dark, so to see what's on them you have to concentrate like trying to remember something you once knew so well... then a projector turns on behind you back producing for a moment a bright, large and clear picture of a laughing young woman which fades away as quickly as it has appeared. You're not old yet but now you probably understand what's battling your failing mind for your own memories feels like.

Mind over Matter at Shoreditch Town Hall

Strangely it doesn't make you sad or ineffectively afraid of inevitable but calms you much, so don't be concerned about getting upset. And also you will likely feel a huge respect both for the donors and for scientists. The exhibition will last until October 23rd and it's well worth a visit.

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