Picture your subconscious as an archive held in a series of large, black metal filling cabinets, cooled by a temperature regulated room. Inside, between subdividers, are index cards with short experiential narratives and accounts of past events, written by your long term memory. These documents of experience inform the development of what psychologists call cognitive scripts, sets of references that become psychological procedures, which tell you how to react to stimuli.
Take the mental state of anticipation, its symptoms of nervousness, anxiety and excitement, shortness of breath and increased heartbeat. The idea is that the mind recognises the conditions that produce anticipation and looks up past occurrences of that same psychological mode, and the events that caused it, stored in your archive of cognitive scripts. Examples of these past events for you might be: the moment before you opened that letter containing the results of your interview for a dream job; that time in a drama class trust exercise just before you fell back, blindfolded, into the arms of giggling classmates; or perhaps it might be the first time you were on television.
My name is Morgan Quaintance and I am the 8th Jerwood Visual Arts writer in residence. Each time I sit in front of a blank screen to write anticipation drops like a wet flannel over my consciousness. It covers my eyes, water draining down my neck, back and arms, dripping off the tips of my fingers, making it impossible to type. I become Steve Jobs, skittish, stationary but seasick. I become the nervous kid, jittery, spooked and paralysed by the gravity of my situation. Then I begin to type.
Until the end of August 2013 I’ll be writing about the forthcoming Jerwood Visual Arts exhibitions at Jerwood Space, exploring exhibition themes, talking to its associate artists, and investigating parallel subjects that might lead to a deeper understanding of each. I hope to make my time in virtual situ as interesting for potential readers as possible and comments are most definitely welcome.