WHAT IS NORMAL?
Quilted cotton wall hanging
Artist: Giulia Ricci, Scientist: Anjali Bhat
A blue parallelogram within a row of blue parallelograms seems “normal”. Zoom out and the row of blue parallelograms, within a sea of triangles, suddenly becomes abnormal. Even in this simple world of shapes, normality is inextricable from context. Is mental illness merely a deviation from a “norm”?
The blanket itself is a representation of relativity. A Markov Blanket is a concept in statistics: the mathematics of uncertainty. It ‘wraps’ around an entity, separating it from its environment and thereby defining it. The Blanket provides a context for its individual elements, creating an overarching stability. This is useful for understanding the perpetual dance between living things like the brain and the constantly changing outside world. Any interactions ‘through’ the Markov Blanket can only be second-hand, indirect. Where there is indirectness there is uncertainty and where there is uncertainty there is inference. The only reality we can know, then, is what we infer from the patterns and deviations we perceive.
Anjali is a PhD student who is interested in how brains and bodies navigate the inevitable uncertainty of the world. She is currently studying how we direct our attention, and unusual variations of that “directing” process that contribute to disorders such as schizophrenia.
Giulia is a visual artist working with drawing and triangles. In her work she aims to translate the experience of tactility into a visual image and she is interested in the haptic quality of geometric patterns.
Lynette is an artisan quilt maker. She hand crafted the quilt from Giulia and Anjali’s designs in her workshop in Suffolk.