Psychic Synopsis are a series of participatory performances developed from a period of research with an archive or historical location.
After initial research, I create an edition of index cards referencing selected items or places.
During a performance, in the role of a psychic or shaman, I guide the participant towards choosing one index card. They are then invited to find the object or place on their card and to make of this connection what they will.
To date Psychic Synopsis has taken place at Senate House Library, Nunhead Library, The London Maritime Museum and Enderby’s Wharf on the Thames Foreshore.
Psychic Synopsis: Indexing the Unconscious Mind of Senate House Library
at Reading as Art, curated by Sharon Kivland and Myra Gosh for the Bloomsbury Festival October, 2013
Taking the Victorian subdivision of the Psychology Library as her point of departure and return, Sarah Sparkes has spent many weeks wandering the labyrinth of Senate House library – literally, virtually and conceptually – exploring this vast, towering archive in search of its unconscious mind. Certain books, pamphlets and other archival material, which resonated in response to her quest, have been indexed by the artists on a set of cards. These cards, referencing playing, divination and Zener cards – used in early psychical research to test telepathic powers, will be laid out on a table in front of the artist. You are invited to choose, take and keep a card; on turning this over you will find a reference number to a book or other item in SHL. You are invited to make your own physical or psychical journey to find this.
In the persona of ‘the psychic librarian’, I sat at the issues desk in the Special Collections Reading Room, Senate House Library, waiting for visitors to arrive. Visitors were invited to sit opposite me at the desk whilst, in a trance state, I recited a narrative about the vast archive of Senate House. I informed guests that they should close there eyes, put out their hands and make an intuitive selection from the ‘Psychic Synopsis cards’ laid out upon the table. Each Psychic Synopsis card has a library reference number on the back, which would lead the recipient to the selected item in the archive. The Psychic Synopsis cards were made in response to research I carried out at SHL into the Victorian Psychology sub-division of the Library and with particular reference to the link between the development of modern psychology and psychical research. .
Allowing my mind to follow trains of tthought around Victorian psychology and wider Victorian culture I made journeys into the libraries on-line index to select books and other items in response to my mental meanderings. A physical journey to locate and verify the suitability of the object in the library followed this the item finally making its way onto an index card in my “Unconscious Index”.
Visitors got really engaged in the selection process and many went on journeys to locate the item on their card. They also kept the card as representative of the connection they had made with this one item in a vast archive.
Psychic Synopsis: Indexing the Unconscious Mind of Senate House Library was performed at Reading as Art, curated by Sharon Kivland and Myra Gosh for the Bloomsbury Festival October, 2013