The larger question of what makes Humans human and what makes humans different to animals has been a recurring tool we have used to explain the project to other people.
Itard put an emphasis on speech, yet describes Victor as being very sensitive to other peoples emotions. He also had exceptional hearing. Hence we talked a lot about the senses, I was thinking about a book called The Eyes of the Skin
by Juhani Pallasmaa, it looks at architecture and the senses – more specifically about how we react/respond/receive spaces.
This led to a discussion about taste and the existence/acceptance of the fifth taste: Psychophysicists have long suggested the existence of four taste 'primaries', referred to as the basic tastes: sweetness
. Although first described in 1908, savoriness
(also called "umami" in Japanese) has been only recently recognized as the fifth basic taste. Clearly this is not really related to this project but I like the idea something existing outside our accepted understanding. This reminded me of an art work by Negativland
where they suggest that a new primary colour has been discovered, the website is ok but the radio report is one of my all time favorite artworks. (I can’t find a recording online but a transcription is here).
I know there was some interest in Janice Kerbel's work
(we are very interested in it, especially the fantasy island and 15 Lombard Street
projects); we have also been looking at Mike Nelson’s work
. We talked a little about isolation and thought about Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc
About sounds: ‘Good’ sounds and the emotive effect of ‘bad’ sounds on the body about comfort levels
Victorians experimented with the body and this is experimenting with the mind, there was a great exhibition at the Wellcome Trust earlier this year called The Identity Project - well worth checking out the website
Some words collected from various discussions which don’t fit into the above:
Nature – logic
The noble savage
Anatomy theatres (attached)- Gunther von Hagens
That the work will be based on Victor and Itard, possibly with an 1800 sensibility rather than rigidly set in any specific era.
Victorian-era France was very different to Victorian England
The continuing question or nature and nurture.
To ask another question of the audience – perhaps the audience is the ‘odd one out’, they are the experiment?
Tristan and Charles