CHANNELS: UNDERSTAND, RETAIN, USE, WEIGH-UP AND COMMUNICATE
Quilted resist with digital projection
Artist: Nicole Morris, Scientist: Andrew McWilliams
Psychiatrist Andrew McWilliams studies interactions between ‘metacognition’ (thinking about thinking) and mental capacity, as part of the Mental Health and Justice Project. The Mental Capacity Act (2005) lays down in statute law the criteria for determining whether or not a person with a disturbance of mind or brain is viewed as capacitous to take a particular decision for themselves. The decisions in question can be situated in diverse areas of a person’s life, from day-to-day domestic situations to issues such as picking accommodation, organising finances or choosing healthcare.
Capacity is time and decision specific, assessed according to an individual’s capacity to understand the information relevant to their situation, retain the information, use, weigh up, and then communicate their own informed decision about what they want to happen. During this piece’s development, Nicole and Andrew delved into ideas of protection and autonomy, the ethics of taking a decision away from a person, and of making a decision on somebody’s behalf.
In the studio Nicole began by drawing around domestic objects onto fabric using wax, which acted as a resist to the dye she then applied. Alongside this textile process, she used green screen, a video technique that can make an image transparent, revealing a hidden layer beneath. Two processes offering both a level of protection and revelation.
Together Andrew and Nicole discussed the importance of the work being activated – giving autonomy over to the viewer. They considered the impact of decision-making and how a viewer may feel when responsibility sits in their hands.
As the mechanism is rotated around and an aperture in the fabric is aligned with the projector lens, a new film will play. There are 12 films and each will be programmed to play randomly and on loop until the mechanism is moved again. This new work belongs to the series ‘Channels:’ a group of fabric viewing systems that explore methods of collaboration, participation and performativity within textiles and moving image.
Andrew is a specialist registrar in child & adolescent psychiatry. As part of the Mental Health and Justice Project hosted in collaboration with King’s College London, he is undertaking a PhD researching interactions between metacognition and how society assesses whether someone is able to make decisions for themselves.
Nicole is an artist exploring the habits, rituals, and functions of the human body and mind through film, sculpture, textiles and installation.