Unquiet Mind on an Unquiet Earth

A Description of the Performance at the private view on 21st of April 2007 in St. Ives at the Mariners Gallery for the Newlyn Society of Artists. Hosted by the St. Ives Soiciety of Artists in Norway Square.

Starting from the premise that we live in a natural world, our standpoint is in the first instance one of being ‘simply human’.

In Merleau-Ponty’s terms, we all possess the natural senses in equal measure. However it was Edmund Husserl who carried this argument further into transcendental phenomenology, that is, the science and philosophy of perception, where the experiential is recognised as an artistic vision, and also an extra perception in thinking. A consciousness of thought and experience related to its intentionality and practice.

Conceptually this perceptual field is one we all aspire to. To this effect Husserl introduced the idea of the ‘brackets’ in order to bracket the natural world away from this particular other world where vision is paramount and commands the process of thought and thinking.

The performance begins with a dance. In this dance across the gallery a book is thrust high and low through the audience from the gallery entrance to the stage area. The book is the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. The music to the dance is Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Danse de la Fureur’ – (dance of fury).

On the stage a speech was given, (see left), quoting Rene Descartes’s dictum, ‘I think, therefore I am’, but adding ‘critically human’. Then to proceed on the nature of perception as it related to the natural world in which we all existed, and this was contrasted with the world of transcendental perception that we all desired. A real danger was expressed that in this natural world, powers beyond our control were raping the world of ideas, and bringing harm to our cultural expectations. In particular we were being forced to live politically in one world whilst attempting to exist imaginatively in one where thinking and images disclose the magic and mystery of life.

The video projection ventured into exploring the idea of discarding intellectual knowledge and replacing it with the idea of Husserl’s brackets. Then the performers actually replaced knowledge, put it back on the table, and synchronised with the metaphor of brackets.

Conceptual ideas are really necessary to our understanding of what it means to live beyond the natural world. That is, to live outside the brackets from a standpoint within the natural world we are all born into.
The performance emphasised the idea of being ‘critically human’ as a state of being aware of what strength of mind we need if we are to be in control of our thinking. Often a perilous position to be in, nevertheless leading to a way of seeing and thinking about things differently.       

Ken Turner & Jane Whitaker- 4/2007

The Performance of Unquiet Mind was commissioned by the Newlyn Society of Artists  in Cornwall. It formed part of the private view of a show entitled 'The Unquiet Earth' presented at the Mariners Gallery in St. Ives. whilst the Newlyn Gallery was being refurbished.

As a member of the society I was its first performance artist. On the reopening of the Newlyn Gallery in July 2007 I have received a further commission to make a performance within an exhibition focusing on the idea of 'Lineage' on the 14th of November 2007. This piece is entitled 'The Perceptive Eye'. The exhibition of tweny member artists is directly related to the initial forming of the NSA in 1895 at the newly built Newlyn Gallery, ermerging as it did from the Newlyn School of Painting.,



From an idea concerning phenomenology Ken Turner devised and performed this piece which in collaboration was idea led and directed by Jane Whitaker, with Huw Wahl as technician and cameraman and performer. Harriet Mitchell, a student placement was involved with the piece and setting up.

You may want to read the description of the performance while waiting for the video to load, as this is 26MB. I hope that you enjoy watching and it's worth the wait.

I think therefore - I am critically human, let us - for the moment - say - that we all are.


However - let us say that being in this state.....of critically human, we do have an extra awareness of an enclosed world....... that is, from this world......we have what we might call a natural standpoint.


This natural standpoint in itself is a piece of pure description......it is what it is... nothing else - neither more nor less - it is what it, is prior to all theory and knowledge. It is very straight forwardly the natural world in which we exist. We are in this world


I want to introduce into this argument the idea of 'brackets'. That is, brackets in relation to this particular standpoint in the natural world...Let us therefore use this idea of bracketing as a position from which we can stand OUTSIDE the standpoint of the natural world whilst being critically human.


Why - you may well ask?

It's because we then enter dangerous territory - leading to dangerous events in this world, if our thinking is one of being SIMLPY human........................

If we do not take this standpoint in the natural world as being CRITICALLY human.............................................then...?



Please click above for a better view of the video shown in the performance of the unquiet mind.