From 22 to 25 September, The Gut exhibition will be offering a multi-sensory insight into the mind, body and soul — here’s how.
21 September 2022
Written by Hannah Uguru, cover photo by Ben Unwin.
On Wednesday, 21 September, The Maya Centre was delighted to have been invited to attend the multi-sensory experience that is The Gut. Developed by visual artist Pod Bluman, under Bluman Associates, The Gut promises “an interactive, immersive experience exploring intuition, vulnerability and connection”. Explained in practical terms, The Gut is an audio-visual exhibition that reacts to participant’s behaviour: paired with a stranger on opposite sides of a dark room with dividing screens, your gestures are recorded via a hand monitor that controls the screen in front of you as you respond to the 360 audio ques around you. The idea is to measure and visualise your ‘gut response’ to stimuli in an experimental environment — an inventive way of reimagining human emotion.
“With around 500 million neurons, the gut could be considered as a second brain, playing a very important part in one’s emotional makeup”, Bluman comments. And he’s right, our ‘second brain’ controls important reflexes and informs our state of mind in obscure ways, aiding in digestion, for example, or even the ‘butterflies in the stomach feeling’ you get when you’re nervous. American physiologist Michael Gershon defines the latter as a ‘physiological stress response’, an area of inner wellbeing The Gut aims to tap into.
With this in mind, it was Bluman’s therapeutic journey that inspired the project’s creation, citing The Maya Centre as an important part of his evolution. “Firstly, my mum is a patron of The Maya Centre, so this sparked my interest in the organisation. But also, the Maya Centre’s remit covers women who find accessing mental health services difficult. With my belief that mental health services should be as easily accessible as physical health services, I felt that connecting a charity that focuses on this and giving them the proceeds from this venture was an important thing to do. To me, mental health is as important, if not more important, than physical health.”
He talks further about manifesting this concept into a reality, saying, “Through my mental health journey and doing therapy, I was inspired to use the technology that was accessible to me through my professional practises working in the events industry. I wanted to see if I could create a way for people to express themselves who didn’t have the privilege of going through therapy and learning the tools, the articulation or the practice of expressing oneself emotionally. I wanted to see if I could develop a way that people could do it intuitively, not using words, but using gestures.
“So, I wanted to create an experience that would somehow facilitate people communicating their authentic and vulnerable feelings in a safe way.”
Having experimented with this artistic technology ourselves, the most fitting way we can describe the experience is “surreal”. It’s really something you have to try yourself, and you can until 25 September, with daily timings at their North London venue running from 12pm to 7pm. Book your ticket here.