The Wellcome Collection has put together two new exhibitions based on contrasting feelings of Tranquillity and Joy. They are among feelings that have been greatly missed by most people during pandemic times.
The Wellcome Collection are best known from their scientific exhibitions. So why have they chosen such soft topics this time?
During pandemic people have described their daily life routines still busy and efficient, but many experiences themselves as “less memorable.” There is a serious lack of social spontaneity of live encounters.
To fight anxiety and loneliness nature connection has replaced the lack of people contact for many. Finding tranquillity in the nature is proven to lower stress levels.
Inside the Tranquillity exhibition by far the most successful installation is Chrystel Lebas’s multisensory tribute to forests.
You will walk through a series of monumental colour photographs of ancient forests in Japan and America. I travelled to the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington State, USA, in search of a place free of human noise called “one square inch of silence”, and then on to the Japanese island of Yakushima, known for its ‘Yakusugi’ or cedar trees. These two primaeval temperate rainforests contain some of the oldest living trees in the world.
Mostly the exhibition concentrates on different approaches to regulating the body e.g. practising yoga and balancing the mind. Wellbeing is being placed into the cultural context from religion to gratitude journals.
The Joy exhibition kicks off with a powerful manifestation that Joy Is a Protest, companied by a zine and a short film created by Wellcome Colletion’s Youth Programme. Understandably so, it is the youth that feels mostly robbed by lack of joy and fun by the pandemic.
Many people find joy while losing themselves on the dance floor, again another experience missed during pandemic.
Harold Offeh has collaborated with the choreographer Vânia Gala on a series of online workshops bringing together different artists to explore the restorative qualities of dance.
What are emotions?
For most of Western history, strong feelings of joy and sorrow, desire or hatred, hope and despair were thought of as “passions of the soul”. The powerful passions were distinguished from milder affections and sentiments, including familial love and compassion. ‘Emotion’ only took on its modern, psychological meaning in the 19th century, as part of a self-consciously scientific approach to the mind. – Thomas Dixon is Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London
There are many systems that measure wellbeing, yet few have used a wide variety of emotions as their basis. In digital form, Aidan Moesby’s periodic table responds to Twitter users’ mentions of emotions, changing the colour of the designated squares and creating a collective landscape of the mood of a particular location. Moesby wants to broaden emotional literacy by providing a more nuanced language for talking about positive and negative emotion.
These exhibitions are ambitious attempts towards experience design. The visitor should feel tranquillity and joy going through the spaces. However, the exhibition design is attempting hard to work on both sensorial and intellectual levels but only reaches the goal in some touchpoints during the exhibition journey.
All in all, intentionally designing touchpoints for particular feelings is still in it’s infancy.