Unchartered by the medical community, Georg Simmel’s blasé condition would most likely reside under anxiety as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. His seminal text, “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903), recounts the evolution of a detached attitude in response to “intensification of nervous stimulation” in the city. In order to endure the “swift and uninterrupted change” inherent to urban life, the modern city character learns to tune out much of his surroundings. The aim of the project is to investigate the mental activity behind this urban behaviour described by Simmel, and to speculate on where these tendencies may be headed.
This video exploration draws on a collection of photos, videos and audio recordings (external stimuli) gathered from the proposed site for a new mental clinic . We simulate the trajectory of two individuals walking toward each other on Ontario Street between Plessis and de Lorimier. This selection will be very different for someone who is mentally unfit for the metropolis. Observers that lack the blasé filter altogether move through the city with a laboured mind–overstimulated to the point of exhaustion. The video depicts two unique perspectives of the site with selected stimuli. The delay or lag refers to a model of perception: “The cortex sends its predictions to the thalamus, which reports on the difference between what comes through the eyes and what was already anticipated (Eagleman, 2011).” The accumulation of incoming stimuli both points to the overwhelming quality of the city as well as the clouding of the mind as a reaction to overstimulation.
The objective of the film is to emphasize the unique perspectives of our two existentialist–pointing to a range of possible perception of the city with mental health as a spectrum and not an “other-mindedness” — and to observe the development of a new organ (Simmel), our conscious mind, to filter incoming stimuli.