Comissioned for the anthology Caress: A Candid Approach, published in 2018. This text is based on my experiences working as an artist amongst four and five year olds. Seeing the negotiation of realities as something that is shared by learning and artistic practices, the text spins on the response-ability we have to take care of the realities that are trown our way. 




Taking care of realities

Emmeli Person


I was hit by a ball of lava.

Actually it was a crumpled up paper, but I went with it and fell onto the floor, face squirming from the phantomatic pain that the incredibly hot piece of paper caused.  


Heliosynchesiy is a neurocognitive syndrome causing a severe sense of disorientation and impairment of visual and spatial navigation abilities, including an increased development towards a circular trail of thought.

The word originates from the Greek (Helio = Sun and σύγχυση (Synchesiy) = Confusion)

Symptoms include inability to orient with other visuospatial cues than spherical/circular objects; a tendency towards circular movement; a tendency towards a narrow cognitive pattern characterized by spiralling associations.


A warm ball of lava hit me, and I fell to the floor. The seconds before I reached out to land on the plastic surface this had happened: And I was a lava monster, and I could use my hands to shoot out lava, and they went like waaaa waa waaa, and you were hit, and fell to the floor! Booommm


I used to lie a lot when I was a kid. Or, I had to learn what kind of experience was real and which one was not. I studied the definitions so I wouldn't have to relive the flushes of embarrassment when someone called out my lie, pulling down my imaginary pants, shouting to everyone that I am in fact not an empress and I am also not wearing any clothes.


Heliosynchesiy is an artistic research project playing with the notion of science fiction as a way to highlight how reality is negotiated through forms and formulations. In the center of the unfolding events is a fictional neurocognitive syndrome called Heliosynchesiy (Helio=Sun Synchesiy=Confusion). The physical artworks, workshops, films and talks produced within the project all answer to the implications of this altered state of mind, working with objects that support the management of symptoms and responds to a reality proposed by the perspective of a fictional patient.


I answer the ball of lava with a big wave of cold water. Seconds earlier, this had happened: No, because I was a big wave god and I had the power of water so I could stop all the lava and make it into little stones. Dunk dunk dunk. Swooooshh. Dunk dunk dunk.


When I regain my composure as an adult among five year olds, I try to think about what just happened; How to take care of what lies inside a crumpled paper? What was thrown at me was a proposal, something that I could either dismiss or take seriously. I could accept the lava coming at me, confirming the social implication of the lie. Or let the lava conform, and drop down on the floor as a misunderstood piece of paper.


In this paper, we propose the sun to be a primary attachment figure for humans, with a more powerful internal working model than other attachment relationships.


I crumble up a paper into a sphere. Now the ball of lava is the sun. I put in a string and let it dangle from the ceiling. It’s spreading light on all of us.


In todays lesson we’ll practice the catching of realities and talking care of balls of lava. We’ll try together to give the best conditions possible for throwing proposals out in the sky. And hope for some of them to stick. For this to work all us need to detach ourselves for a while and agree to come along in suspension of disbelief. The exercise will consist of confirmations. Let’s practice confirming as a way to give existence, instead of conforming to what already exists. I call out a world, you answer to it, taking turns being the constructing agent. Lava, yes lava. Warm, yes warm. Round, yes round. Spinning, yes spinning. As we go the classroom change, chairs start to melt and tables spin to confirm our needs of rotation. But then the sun falls down to the floor.


In this paper, we propose that Heliosynchesiy is properly conceptualized as a mourning reaction to the loss of an attachment object, the sun. We now think it’s time for a reconceptualization of attachment theory, in which not only beings perceived as sentient can be seen as attachment figures, but also apparently inanimate objects.


In making the diagnostic grid for Heliosynchesiy the question of which realities are being confirmed by formulation, was at core. In confirmation lies a validation of existence, it can be a lie, but the formulation makes it palpable and real. Bring out a word, and you bring out a world. In that way formulation can also be violent, mimicking the power of the diagnose by giving bodily experiences a position within reality or within illusion, subsequently structuring normativity.


I was hit by the sun.

Actually it was a lamp, but I went with it and fell to the floor, face squirming from the phantomatic pain that the incredibly hot bulb caused.  



Caress: A candid approach published 2018.