Largactyl Shuffle@Science Museum LATES – January Review

On Wednesday 29 January 2014, CoolTan Arts volunteers presented the final tour of the Largactyl Shuffle @ Science Museum LATES, guiding walkers around Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology, a recently opened Science Museum exhibition on the mind and nerves.
**Please save the date for Monday 28th April for the project book/DVD launch at The Science Museum’s Dana Centre.**
Photos by project volunteer Bogdan Stăiculescu:
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A Largactyl Lyrical Review by Andrew Ogleby:
Roll-up, Roll-up and Don’t be Late!
For the Last of the LATES experience
Presented for your Pleasure,
By the Fabulous Museum Team and CoolTan Crew
Whose iconic Orange hi-viz vests,
Will help guide you through
Treatment or Experiment? A Virtual Reality
The Show enhancing Mental Well-being,
By the Power of Creativity
So Prepare to be Shocked and Amazed at the use of E.C.T
Gasp in Awe at the Wonders of Alternative Therapy
Listen in Horror and Captivation of the Origin,
For the Prometheus inspired Frankenstein, by M. Shelley
See through the holes of a D.S.M
Before taking Time to Explore,
The remaining realms of Fact and Fantasy
Roll-up, Roll-up and Don’t be Late!
Before the Sun Sets, on the Last CoolTan-LATES
The last of the Largactyl Shuffle/LATES events coincided with the opening of the new, and incredibly thought provoking Mind Maps Exhibition at the Science Museum. The evening itself was deemed a tremendous success and there was a large, and seemingly enthralled turnout to witness it, including a visit from the actual curator himself. The presentations covered various subjects exploring the theme of Treatments or Experiments? (see above). And there was a poignant reading of a former CoolTan Arts representative’s account of having experiencing ECT, whose picture is also included in the exhibition. The willing audience, through various activities, were then invited to take part in exploring these themes for themselves.
Even though this was the last of CoolTan Arts’ 5 fantastic Largactyl Shuffle/LATES events at the Science Museum, the journey is not quite over yet. As a publication (including interactive game) with DVD telling the story of this wonderful journey and recognising all those who have taken part, will be launched in the Spring of 2014. The publication itself will be dedicated to the memory of Jean Cozens, whose initial idea it was to produce such a work.
So here’s looking forward to Spring. Watch this Space for Further News!
Review of Lates event at the Science Museum called Treatment or Experiments by project volunteer Peter Leonard Cox:
I was quite sad that this event was the last in a series of six LATES events at the Science Museum involving CoolTan Arts ( April 25 2012, July 31 2013, Aug 28 2013, Sep 25 2013, Nov 27 2013, Jan 29 2014 ) in all of which I had taken part, having visited the Science Museum’s Archives in Olympia on August 13 2013 , seen an exhibition depicting restrictive clothing at the Institute of Psychiatry, become familiar with floors in the Science Museum dedicated to medicine, dentistry, public health, psychology and psychiatry, learned about intelligence testing, Eysenck, the uses of electricity, awful dentistry 150-200 years ago, how London overcame cholera epidemics, what pharmacies looked like in 1900, where the word robot came from, the massive Pegasus computer of 1956, Ernie, what cookers and Hoovers looked like 40, 50 or 80 years ago, and each time had the opportunity to prepare brief talks and improve my public speaking. Hopefully there will be further “Lates” events before too long.
Heide Postges introduced this Jan 29 event, which was on the Mezzanine floor of the Science Museum in an exhibition that opened on Dec 15 2013 called Mindmaps, which displays the history of psychology and psychiatry. She invited people to consider how scientists have tried to determine how the mind and body works, to experiment or to treat mental illness with electricity, and to determine what is “normal” behaviour. Kaya Volke then informed the audience about what CoolTan does.
There were three talks in the first walk around the exhibition from Sasha Dee, Andrew Ogleby and myself, but in the second walk, Sasha spoke only briefly due to time restraints.
Sasha told us that a Greco-Roman Christian ethos had for centuries restricted progress but explained to us that electrical experiments were becoming popular at the end of the 18th century, Galvani experimenting with dissected frogs and his son gruesomely trying to animate an executed criminal! He then told us about Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein and husband Percy Shelley (poet and atheist) who had experimented with electricity at Eton. The story “Frankenstein” concerns a Professor’s failed experiment- he created a monster by trying to create a live human being from parts of several dead people. Sasha rightly said that Mary Shelley, (1797-1851) widow of Shelley who did not re-marry after her husband’s death by drowning at sea, is now recognised as author of several novels, other stories, critiques and travel diaries, not merely for Frankenstein and editing her late husband’s poetry.
Andrew Ogleby introduced us to Eastern philosophy and Sahaja Yoga, speaking near to a display of self-help books for people with different mental health problems like depression or OCD. He told us Chinese medicine did not recognise the brain, maintaining that the spirit resided in the heart. He said that Sahaja is a Sanskrit word meaning spontaneous, and this yoga or meditation was founded by a lady called Shri Mataji in around 1975. He explained how an energy called Kundalini travels upwards through the body through 7 chakra centres and reduces blood pressure and pulse. He told us that meditation can activate a creative side of our minds called Swadhisthan, and that free Sahaja Yoga classes were available over London.
I stood by a display with a photo of CoolTan’s ex trustee the late Jean Cozens protesting about cruel treatment of mental health problems and holding up a placard saying TLC not ECT. I read out a speech prepared by Jean that was very critical of electro-convulsive therapy and any other treatment forced on people. She had been restrained before being injected, and had not known anyone who had had ECT (passing a current across the brain to cause a convulsion) who did not afterwards have problems with memory.
I then said that I’d found that patients having ECT had to give “informed consent” but wondered how they would be able to do so if so severely depressed that they needed it. The BBC has recently broadcast a programme about ECT, I said, and a woman who had it was afterwards unable to remember that her mother had been dead for two years. I spoke of my own moderate depression in 1998 and said this had involved a mild but still worrying memory loss, indecisive behaviour and failing to do things I wanted to do. When better in January 1999, I said that I was glad that I had seen an art exhibition of work by John Singer Sergent on the last day in spite of initial difficulties in gaining  admission- this broke the cycle of activities planned but not done. Thankfully I then regained full memory powers. I ended by asking people to think about damage to the brain- in dreams, there are parts of the brain that are not functioning- that is why I dreamed that my grandmother was 120 years old, it not occurring to me that she was dead, as people do not live that long.

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