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The Art of Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man & Animals

By William  |  19 Jun 2019 07:00:00

 Charles Darwin's third book on evolution, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, has often been overlooked. But not only was it a pivotal work in the development of evolutionary theory, psychiatry and psychology, it was also a ground-breaker in the way it was compiled and presented. He defined six emotions as fundamental to human evolution: Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Fear, Anger and Disgust One of the first books to be illustrated with photographs, Darwin's research for it involved him sending questionnaires to his trusted colleagues all around the world.

Jo Pearl, a ceramicist at Central St Martins art college, wondered if she could treat his approach to this fundamental subject through her art. As a result her Final Degree Show Project, Why The Face? is a study of what emotions look like and feel like. A personal taxonomy inspired by Darwin, her exploration is both figurative and abstract.

When the idea was forming, Jo thought it would be appropriate if she could sculpt bust-portraits of a descendent of Darwin expressing his six fundamental emotions. So she went online and found me, Gwen  Raverat's grandson, William Pryor. Whether it was rampant egomania or a rapid response to a tantalising project that brings Darwin's genius into the context of 21st Century creativity. The final outcome is an animated stop-motion portrait that earily disembodies me from my physical, temporal reality. The glass dome and the tripod isolate me as bearer of one of the emotions in a point in time as it expresses me, not the other way round. I am a slave to my emotions.

 

 

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