Linden EXTRA

A Modern Day Quest for Feeling

By Dr Marion Piper.

At various times throughout the day my hands and feet tingle. Nothing life threatening or anything, but noticeable enough to stop me in my tracks. It’s a sensation that runs along the surface of my skin, darting between hairs, pulsing like an invisible flame, gulping up oxygen to gain strength. Then it stops – and I feel nothing. My hands go about their business and my feet continue to hang there, adorning my ankles like some kind of lucky charm on a bracelet.

What do we do when
we can’t feel a thing? 

In the ecosystem of 2021, as the world yo-yos from freedom to constraint and back again, I struggle to feel anything definitive. Am I sad? Frustrated? Grateful? Lonely? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but in the middle of it all, I’ve awoken to a calling. A quest to find feeling in the face of rampant scientific jargon mixed with pop cultural slang. My emotional baggage is packed – will you join me?

First, we find
the edges.

Starting at the fringe, take in what’s around you. All I think about lately is how we got here – and how I can escape. Not literally, of course, but using the grey matter between my ears. I picture myself riding technicolour beasts across the clouds where The last thing you see is a jetstream of colour piercing your eyes as I zip by. It’s as close as I can get to going on an adventure without budging an inch.

I sometimes think there’s a feeling Coming up the stairs – I can smell it on the air – but when I go to check all I catch is my reflection In the window. These days, I go the extra mile to dress like there’s no tomorrow. Decorated to the nines with patterns in bold and often harrowing colours, determined to fight anyone who says that playing dress up Can’t make me happy. It must, I’ve tried everything else.

Next, we
reach out.

Back in the day, all I’d need to get out of a funk was a loud and overcrowded House Party. It didn’t even matter who threw the shindig so long as there were tunes, free flowing drinks and an ear or two for comfort. As Track 1 would kick in, signalling the start of the celebration, everyone would sing along (even if they didn’t know the words). 

When we work from the Outside-in, when we seek outside of ourselves for emotional resonance, we run the risk of inauthenticity. You are your own barometer and feelings are slippery – they’re not to be held, gripped or consumed, either. It can be easy to feel like you’re trapped or at the mercy of the internal storm that’s brewing, but as a reminder: Things could be worse. You don’t need to Burn Down the House to be free.

Lastly, we look in.

Our world is stained with Duality – day and night, male and female, light and dark. These old binaries crumble when scrutinised under a microscope because they keep feelings at bay. Whether it’s from an Aerial perspective with 16 different viewpoints or up close in a way that overwhelms vision, if we look inside ourselves we have the opportunity to start a dialogue with who we are. What you feel inside is valid, especially if it goes against the grain. It’s okay to Fall down 12 times so long as you get up 13 – unlucky for some, but a sign of great things to come in this context.

Keep talking,
keep asking,
keep digging.

In my quest for feeling I seem to have forgotten how far I’ve come… how far we’ve ALL come. Think back to this time last year – the external world reduced to the four walls of our homes (which may feel no different to now), but you, my friend, are wiser and more knowing after an extra 365 days of life. Feelings will come and they will go, but amidst the chaos of change, one thing remains the same: you’re STILL here. 

When the world around you isn’t recognisable – it might glitter with the veracity of stars in an unexplored galaxy, or throb with luminescence like bacteria magnified 3000 times – look within. Your internal landscape holds the key to understanding and changing what’s happening around you, but you have to be brave enough to look. Anything worth doing is a little scary at first, so if you feel the pangs of fear nibbling at your core, know that you’re on the right track.

What do we do when we feel TOO much?

After everything we’ve been through, the weight of it all can become overwhelming and too much to carry. I’ve found it’s never the fault of one single emotion, but usually a cocktail of a few. Am I sad? Frustrated? Grateful? Lonely? Maybe I’m all of those things and more – and perhaps the feelings are too much to hold right now, but that’s a surefire sign it’s time to ask for more hands. For if you or I are struggling to move forward, held back or down by the weight of feeling, there’s no shame in teaming up to share the load.

As I continue down my path, doing my best to catch what life is throwing at me, I’m reminded of one feeling that art delivers without asking for anything in return: BEAUTY. What a marvel it is to witness the self expression of another human made tangible in an object. The way colours dance and how materials collide – and all we have to do is be open enough to receive. So if I’ve been searching for any feeling this whole time, it’s the feeling I get when I give myself permission to dream.


IMAGES [top to bottom] > Troy Emery, Sonder [detail], 2021. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.
> Troy Emery, Sonder [installation view], 2021. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.
> Nicholas Folland, House Party [installation view], 2021. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.
> Ash Keating, Duality > Fall [installation view], 2020. Photograph: Dan Preston.
> Ash Keating, Duality > Fall [installation view], 2020. Photograph: Dan Preston.
> Troy Emery, Sonder [detail], 2021. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.

+ Visit Troy Emery's Sonder
+ Visit Nicholas Folland's Burn Down the House
+ Visit Ash Keating's Duality


By Dr Marion Piper's essay. 

At various times throughout the day my hands and feet tingle. Nothing life threatening or anything, but noticeable enough to stop me in my tracks. It’s a sensation that runs along the surface of my skin...
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