jessica charlesworth

PHRENOLOGICAL FACULTIES: An exploration in progress




I have recently signed up to a class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Digital Crafts. As part of the  learning process we were asked to create a range of simple models from any ‘pedestrian’ material we had at our disposal. My overarching theme was drawn from my interest in futures, predictions, pseudoscience and ancient divinations, in particular I became interested in Phrenology.

Phrenology was an 19th Century pseudoscience developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall that focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions.  Gall believed that the brain was made up of 27 individual ‘organs’ or faculties that created a personality. Phrenologists would run their fingers over the skulls of their patients to feel for enlargements or indentations. With this information, the phrenologist would be able to assess the character and temperament of the patient and address each of the 27 faculties. This type of analysis was used to predict the kinds of relationships and behaviours to which the patient was prone. Phrenology was often used to predict a child’s future life, to assess prospective marriage partners and to provide background checks for job applicants.

As a starting point I chose to concentrate on the Phrenological Faculties and created a range of ‘tools’ that encourage one to harness and fine tune these traits. Some are material and form investigations and others deal directly with a particular faculty trait.
Photos by Laura Prieto-Velasco


CONTROLLING THE PINK BALLOON
Mirthfulness: appreciation for wit and fun, sense of humour


BUBBLEWRAP ON A ROLL
Approbativeness: The need to attract attention and a desire for fame and recognition

EVERYTHINGS OK
Inhabitiveness: The need to obtain stable security and a sense of belonging.

 

THE GOLDEN RATIO RULER
Sublimity: The extreme need to seek sublime perfection, a love and desire for perfection, magnificence in nature, art and beauty.

 

CALENDAR
Time: The clock within oneself, the acknowledgement of a lapse cycle of time.

WHERE AM I?
Locality: To have a perception of the position of oneself in respect of objects and places, to have a sense of direction

FINGER CUBE
Combativeness: To have a sense of  bravery and lack of fear

 

CONDIMENT CUPCAKE

Visual Research

Phrenology Head illustrating the 27 faculties

Multiple Strategies: Beuys, Maciunas, Fluxus

Multiple Strategies: Beuys, Maciunas, Fluxus

Watts Time Kit

Watts Time Kit

Peter Nencini‘s current work entitled ‘Hand Werk Pound Shop’

Maywa Denki’s Nonsense Machines ‘Naki’ and other sketches/products


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