Can you experience the symptoms yourself?

Artist Charles Harrison describes how he came to make this work.

I began a collaboration with Dr Seb Crutch around 2 years ago as part of the ArtNeuro Project. This project encouraged artists to respond to the work of neuroscientists and vice versa.

Although Seb explained Posterior Cortical Atrophy to me from a scientific point of view and also gave me examples and descriptions from people experiencing it, I became pre-occupied with how these changes in perception might be visualised in the form of animation. One of the examples Seb showed me was of a woman describing her perception of a photograph of Brighton beach/pier and this became the starting point to make the animation.

I live in Brighton and would walk along the seafront each day to get to my studio. Each day I would pass a bottleneck, where a red lifebelt was kept on the beach and for some reason this experience of walking towards and through the passage became poignant in my understanding of what it might mean to have progressive loss of perceptual function. The middle part of the animation depicts this, where small deficits with colour or form lead to confusion and imbalance, perhaps even hallucination.

The final part of the animation uses the same place, with a figure approaching the red lifebelt, but eventually the fragmentation and perception of the image becomes unreadable and lost to abstraction. In many ways the animation was a way for me to come to terms with how it might feel to lose perceptual abilities and it is therefore subjective to my own understanding.

Since making the work I have been lucky enough to work with people who have PCA and get their unique perspective on life, and the disease and I hope to collaborate further with Seb and his research team, as well as with people affected so that more people can gain a deeper understanding of the human brain and the lives of those affected by dementia.

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The Many Faces of Dementia

UCL (University College London)

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