We worked with QUAD in Derby to co-commission a new body of work by Susan MacWilliam. The show debuted here at NN last year (visit our archive and Flickr) and now the second part of the project has opened at QUAD. You can visit AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED at QUAD until 23 November 2014.
AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED is a body of sculpture and video work that considers the historic and groundbreaking experimental ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) and telepathy work of parapsychologist Dr JB Rhine. With a fascination in the researcher’s quest for answers and proof Susan MacWilliam reflects on the work, experimental apparatus, lives and personalities of those involved in parapsychology – a subject falling beyond the ‘normal’ fields of science and psychology.
Regarded as the ‘Father of Modern Parapsychology’ Dr Rhine (1895–1980) was a leading researcher and published author. Rhine was interested in testing ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition through laboratory methods acceptable to science. Rhine began his renowned experimental research in the 1930s and developed tests employing the identification of unseen cards and the prediction of dice rolls. In 2011 Susan MacWilliam worked with the Rhine Research Center and Parapsychology Laboratory Records, Duke University, Durham, NC.
The video work AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED features the voices of historic and now dead figures from the fields of psychology and parapsychology, discussing the importance of exactness, precision and scientific rigour, and the role of parapsychology, and ESP and telepathy research in relation to developments in statistics and mathematics. Dr Seymour Mauskopf (Professor Emeritus of History, Duke University) refers to ESP experiments conducted by Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and speculates on the transformative experience of looking back at Earth while standing on the Moon. While reflecting on the laboratory research of Dr JB Rhine, AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED explores our attempts to understand the world through asking questions. The video considers the ways in which we think about the world and our place within it; our desire to read something deeper into coincidence, and the belief that perhaps there is more to the world than simply ‘matter in motion’.
The imagery of book covers features in both the sculpture and video work. Through their communication of ideas from writer (sender) to reader (receiver) books are considered as telepathic devices; functioning as portals to knowledge and a means of navigating and making sense of the world. The installation Book Spheres presents an expansive vista which indulges in the graphic qualities and designs of parapsychology book covers. Drawing on the aesthetics of handmade experimental research apparatus the sculptural work Apparatusphere makes reference to mechanical orrery models.
QUAD, Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby DE1 3AS
Image: AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED, video, 2013, 65 mins