What is Potential? Exploring Aristotle, art and medicine

Wellcome Collection Reading Room, 10 October 2015, 13.00–18.00

Welcome to ‘What is Potential?’ – an event where a group of artists, curators and thinkers get together to reflect on whether a 2,400-year-old philosopher and scientist can still offer tools to enrich our daily lives. Paying special attention to Aristotle’s thinking on potential, the group will explore how these ideas allow us to better understand how things change in and around us.

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Potentiality is central to Aristotle’s thinking and also one of the most debated concepts. Something’s potentiality is its possibility to become something else. For example, a seed can become a tree, but it can also become food for a living being. Or we can call a man ‘thinking’ even when he is asleep and not actively engaged in reflection.

Falling between art and research, timed presentations and drop-in activity, we invite you to dwell on the issues addressed and hope you enjoy thinking about how they could relate to your life and experiences.

The event was curated by Per Huttner for Wellcome Collection. A special thank you to Ken Arnold, Simon Chaplin, Rosie Stanbury, Valerie Brown, Vision Forum and all the participants.

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14.00: Theodore Zeldin and Per Hüttner in conversation
Taking Zeldin’s recent book The Hidden Pleasures of Life as a starting-point, the discussion centres on the potential of art to enrich our lives at work and in private and the role it could play tomorrow.

15.00: Loss of Breath/Lost for Words – Kihlberg & Henry
A reading about breath: the forgotten, unheard breaths behind all the talk, where breath does the reading, and the reading becomes breath.

16.00: Ménage à Trois – Sara Giannini
This lecture invites the audience to be a part of a collective investigation into potentiality and risk of the threesome. Starting with the metamorphic figure of Salomé, moving on to Henry Wellcome and a Scandinavian voyage/exhibition entitled ‘Ö’, the reading will follow other triangulations in order to delve into the engine of desire: the negation of its promise.

Ongoing throughout the afternoon:

Metamorphosis I: Primordial paste – Vilma Luostarinen with Alison Taylor and Louise Waite
Metamorphoses is a series of poetic and material explorations where the boundaries of what is human and innate becomes blurred. In this first experiment, an unknown black substance is explored through the act of kneading.

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The Soft – Natasha Rosling
Rosling uses sounds to explore the interface between the material and immaterial. She will attempt to build a ‘sonic prosthesis’ that charts physical forms based on anatomical illustrations and fantasies about the human body.

Psychotron Mind/Body Split – Samon Takahashi
The artist invites the audience to participate in a small ritual that blurs the borders between mental and physical experience.

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Nunc Stans: Drifters – Valentina Miorandi and Sandrine Nicoletta
A lamp that allow us to discover the true colour of our universe.

I am the Future – Per Huttner
Three living sculptures that invite the audience to reflect on the future of healthcare and medicine.

Photographs courtesy of the Wellcome Collection