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Blog - Dolly Sen

Uninstalling Normality – madness and technology


Some of us who have been labeled with disabled minds find normality tedious and desperate, and our own experiences belittled and devalued. To use a technological analogy, madness is seen as malfunctioning in the programming and not an appropriate reaction to the system that it finds itself in. The divergent mind is not a spam folder. Society disables me by putting viruses of self-hate and discrimination into that programming, and then tries to sell me sanity at inflated prices, only to make my system crash again and again.

To that end, I want to disrupt systems that produce ‘copy and paste’ identities/thoughts/perceptions/life/death, as a Trojan horse dressed as a my little pony on acid with a little sadness in their hearts. My anti-virus programme is my art and creativity, it is putting sanity over my lap and smacking its naughty bum bum.

Some normal people lack insight and need rehabilitation. It is my duty to help them out by pointing out that sanity is full of ridiculous acceptable behaviour and strange double standards, such as seeing street art as vandalism but the proliferation of demeaning ads selling pointless things as acceptable. That being loud and aggressive whilst drunk is someone being ‘one of the boys’. But if someone is shouting due to being troubled by voices, it is reason to be more scared, even though you are more likely to be injured or killed by the former. The world is sanitised not sane. Why is acceptance and celebration of the mad self seen as a lack of insight, when it has been forged by thought, pain and lots of questioning. There is a side to madness that doesn’t get shown, that is intelligent, funny, and pointing of the emperor’s new clothes. A lot of that has been done through my art.

Previously, I created a part of the website experiencing psychosis, which hears voices, thinks it is being spied upon, and that it is Jesus.  It asks: what if the internet experienced madness, what would it look like, would you ever return to it, would you bookmark it, would you share it, report it, what does it feel to vicariously experience psychosis? Virtual reality may not exist, but what if it didn’t exist twice removed.

I hope my art infects normal systems with subversion and cheekiness. Reality may never be an inclusive design, but virtual reality can be. In fact, artificial intelligence can never be sentient, if it cannot go mad.

So how to subvert technology that wants to fix the mad mind, or show that interventions for mental health conditions do more harm than good? Maybe medicate and forcibly restrain a robot? Develop a depressed search engine who tells the person there isn’t any point in looking for what they want? Give Youtube hallucinations? A dating website for people’s voices? Make a twitter account paranoid that people are following it?

One of the other technologies on offer around mental health is a proliferation of apps, measuring mood, anxiety, negative thoughts, and aspiring to teach people how to calm themselves, breathe, and how to get a better night’s sleep. All well and good, but the problem is making it the individual’s problem or responsibility. No matter if your distress is caused by social factors, such as poverty, oppression, racism, welfare cuts, or disability-as-burden rhetoric. It is not life-improvement, it is subservience-improvement. Maybe it is time to develop an app to measure the unreasonableness of society’s expectation of you. Or a motivating app, which flashes messages like ‘You don’t have to fit into their bullshit’ and give you points for the loyalty card that is your own authenticity.

normality uninstalled by Dolly Sen

normality uninstalled

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