What is Concsiousness?

Wellcome Collection Yellowbluepink
How does it feel to have your conscious experience altered? [Spoiler alert] This installation by Ann Veronica Janssens at the Wellcome Collection is like walking through cloud. You can’t see further than a metre or so in any direction. There are other people in the room with you, you can hear them close by, but you don’t know where they are. They fade in and out of vision or glide by like shadows. You can’t tell where the walls are. You don’t know who or what you’re walking towards. “By stripping away many of the features that permeate our normal conscious lives, the raw fact of experiencing is given renewed emphasis.”

“Janssens’s piece reminds us of the important distinction in science between being conscious at all (conscious level: the difference between being awake and being in a dreamless sleep or under anaesthesia) and what we are conscious of (conscious content: the perceptions, thoughts and emotions that populate our conscious mind). There is also conscious selfhood – the specific experience of being me (or you). Each of these aspects of consciousness can be traced to specific mechanisms in the brain that neuroscientists, in cahoots with researchers from many other disciplines, are now starting to unravel. There are many exciting ideas in play, ranging from the dependence of conscious level on how different parts of the brain speak to each other, to understanding conscious content as determined by the brain’s ‘best guess’ of the causes of ambiguous and noisy sensory signals.”

A fascinating experience. And free! Yellowbluepink is at the Wellcome Collection, by Euston station, until 3rd January 2016.

 Wellcome Collection Yellowbluepink

3 thoughts on “What is Concsiousness?

  1. This sounds very interesting, I would be interested in the observation of reactive consciousness, simply because when we step into the unknown and in this environment where most of what is around you can’t be seen is therefor Unknown the body and mind become reactive, the other senses should naturally heighten and it’s at this point it becomes interesting because in a heightened sensory state our reactive state also increases, this is not necessarily a positive outcome because the reaction can be generated from fear rather than actual feedback from the environment.
    I believe that as we step deeper into these experiences we almost learn another language a greater understanding of our internal communication, once this phase is reached then the expression of the reaction will change.
    Thanx for sharing😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes this is completely true! In this case it was a positive sensation, I wasn’t filled with fear because I knew it was a safe environment, there is a lot of artistic explanation outside/before you go in, and I was with a friend and other strangers who were sharing the same experience. The lighting is bright and has a really positive energy. The most tangible difference in the way that I felt and was experiencing my surroundings was that I was a lot more tentative. Instead of striding around purposefully as we do in the real world, we were taking pigeon steps and ready to touch noses with a wall at any moment. Also because you can’t distinguish floor, wall or ceiling, it has a slight unbalancing sensation, but in quite a positive, floaty kind of way. I think that if I was in similar conditions on my own, in the dark and not in a well-known, publicly accessible building then these same physical sensations would have felt quite different and alarming in a negative way!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very interesting, i made my common error of assumption, oops, I immediately associated the experience you had with when I experienced a white out whilst snowboarding on numerous occasions, those experiences were nerving and fearful and yet you had to trust the black poles because that’s all you could see to get you down the mountain.
        I like your observation that due to the introduction you received your experience turned out to be positive, which is great, we all gain confidence when reassured about the experience we are having or about to embark upon.
        Look forward to hearing about your next adventures into consciousness. All the best 😀


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