Ann Veronica Janssens
Born 1956, Folkestone Lives in Brussels
Ann Veronica Janssens’s work explores perception through the use of light and colour. For her installation at Wellcome Collection, Janssens invades the gallery with coloured mist. Defying the apparent immateriality of the medium, colour is caught in a state of suspension, veiling any detail of surface or depth within the space. Instead, attention is focused on the process of perception itself, destabilising perceptual norms and playing with the material nature of colour and form. Entering the gallery is to submit to colour as a physical entity, to be subsumed by the experience of seeing.
Janssens’s installation launches States of Mind, a year-long investigation into the experience of human consciousness – a topic seemingly defined as much by what is yet to be understood as what can be readily explained. At the heart of the subject lies the ‘hard problem’ of why objective brains give rise to our subjective consciousness.
Neuroscience has made great progress with the ‘easy problem’ of the relationship between brain activity and cognitive functions such as retaining memory or decision making. However, it struggles to describe why the activity of neurons results in the individual experience of, for example, the vibrancy of Janssens’s coloured environment. And yet, without understanding exactly how it happens, we are all experts in our own personal experience. Ann Veronica Janssens’s sensory installation reminds us of the richness of our interaction with the world; a personal universe of experience constructed within the confines of our skulls.
Curator, Wellcome Collection