Director Pippa Nissen, Senior Associate Marie-Lise Oulmont and Associates Andrea Hickey and Kate Coghlan of Nissen Richards Studio are leading a new postgraduate teaching unit at London Metropolitan University. The unit challenged students to design a ‘Museum for Now’. Here is one of the responses to that challenge.

It appears that the contemporary world has entangled itself in a collective web of mass media, mass production and fixed mind-sets that manipulate individuals into following the mainstream without intellectual inquiry. Deprived of the uniqueness of our individuality, we become easy targets of materialism and blind consumerism, and the inevitable feeling of complacency that this provides, interferes with our quest for authenticity and the exploration of our true potential.

As seen through the eyes of a phenomenologist, the contemporary society is facing a crisis. It has entered an era of the artificial world, an artificial image of reality, moving further away from the real world. Our wholeness; and connectedness to our existent surroundings is interrupted by the dominance of image. It is as if we are constantly looking at a picture through the viewfinder of a camera, but we are missing the context.

Sight is the sense which is constantly triggered through the repetition of images and all other senses are put aside. Phenomenology states that our individual ‘being’ exists when it comes in contact with the world. Each act of awareness ‘I imagine, I see, I remember’ is associated with objects and places (spaces). These are perceived and connected with the act of ‘being presented to the senses,’ making our awareness closely related to our consciousness. Every act of consciousness we perform and each experience we have is also connected with phenomena and objects around us, recognised as stimuli received by the body and perceived by the mind.

A museum for now can enhance the power of image. An image has the power to challenge the boundaries of our perception; celebrating the act of surrealism and ascending the act of the unconscious. It can push the boundaries of our vision, challenging the notion of authenticity; of what is real and what is imaginative, by distorting simple features, like the sense of depth and perspective (literally and metaphorically). An image can also rejuvenate new norms. By normalizing what is not familiar, by making everything more approachable to all, the quest of surreality would be fulfilled. A museum for now can find magic and strange beauty in the unexpected and the uncanny, the disregarded and the unconventional, the unnatural and the irrational, by celebrating the art of surrealistic photography in relation to real-life 3d objects.