Bengaluru's Science Gallery's latest exhibition, Psyche, delves deep into the human mind

From interactive art installations, film screenings, photo exhibitions, and theatre performances to lectures, it is an all-embracing virtual show
Still from Playing with Reality. Photograph provided by Anagram and Floreal Films
Still from Playing with Reality. Photograph provided by Anagram and Floreal Films

What goes on in our minds may not always reflect in the actions we take. That's because of the complexities of our psyche and the world around us. But at the base of all of these actions and reactions lies the human brain. The thoughts that are triggered, the emotions that are felt, everything begins from the core of our nervous system - our brain.

A new exhibition put together by the Science Gallery Bengaluru explores this complex organ and everything that's associated with it - our mental status, our reactions, manifestations, and the consequences of all of these. Aptly titled Psyche - Unsettle, Unravel, Unthink, the virtual exhibition went live on April 1, 2022.

A comprehensive and interdisciplinary show it includes theatre performances, film screenings and discussions, interactive art installations and collections, workshops, lectures, and masterclasses. The primary objective of this expansive exhibition is to explore the human psyche, how we perceive ourselves and to understand mental health better, say the organisers. "We have taken subjects of scientific inquiry, objects of research and have examined what these have to do with our life. For example, how do philosophy, social science, psychology, and other similar disciplines impact and interact with the human mind? Though this may earn an ambiguous explanation, it is expressed through various processes and that's what we are trying to uncover for the public," explains Jahnavi Phalkey, Founding Director, Science Gallery Bengaluru.

The most appealing aspect of Psyche is the diverse voices that are part of the show. Whether it is the theatre performances that interpret soliloquies from Shakespeare's Hamlet with the present world situations as a context, a photo showcase that includes images of citizens locked at home during the past two years due to the pandemic, or the collection of poems written by Black men presented as an audio-visual installation and text - these are all expressions of people from across the globe. 

The theatre piece - Hamlets Live - is by Indian Ensemble's Chanakya Vyas. Six online performances are enacted live in front of the virtual audience who are then invited to share their interpretations of the soliloquies. Chanakya approaches Hamlet through a more humane lens. Instead of looking at Hamlet as a revenge-seeking protagonist, the audience is offered a different perspective of looking at this tragic hero's human qualities.

Perspectives is the collection of photographs and artworks created by photographers, filmmakers, digital and visual artists, and students from across the globe. These works are a reflection of the different situations and conditions that people were facing during the last two years owing to the pandemic.

Black Men's Minds is an engaging and thought-provoking audio-visual installation that seeks to understand and offer insights about masculinity, race, and mental health. Stephen Rudder, a first-generation black man who grew up in the UK is a trained psychotherapist and artist. Under the name Quiet Voice, Stephen creates work that helps unheard voices to be expressed. Richard Edwards, an internationally recognised music composer for documentaries, and D-Fuse, a London-based artist collective have worked with Stephen to create Black Men's Minds.

Apart from these exhibits, Psyche also features interactive experiences and an Activity Handbook. Playing With Reality is an interactive experience by the London-based award-winning creative studio ANAGRAM. This exhibit follows John, a man who lives with paranoid schizophrenia and ends up finding friendship and support in the world of online gaming. The interactive and immersive exhibit looks at the relationship between John and the 'unreal' world of video games to make us understand our realities. The Activity Handbook lists a number of activities that visitors can take up at home to relax their mind and also engage it actively.

After the success of its previous exhibition Contagion (an art show that offered insights about the pandemic and previous such events from the past), Science Gallery Bengaluru's latest show offers a world beyond the evident and a deep understanding of the human brain while also keeping it engaged and entertained. "With the conversations and concerns about mental health picking up, especially during the lockdown period, we thought this is the right time to pursue this idea," says Jahnavi, and the effort is not lost.

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