FEEL THE FEAR IN THE PANIC ROOM
Anxious Artist Aims to Affect Your Experience of Reality and Alter Your Perception of Anxiety
Beth Davis-Hofbauer, an artist from Hampshire has spent the last year working on creating an immersive installation that she hopes will change how people relate to each other, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems, particularly anxiety. In June she began working with Dr Wendy Powell and Marc Cook at University of Portsmouth’s VR Lab to make her ideas and design a reality. This has led to academics at the University using Beth’s work to conduct preliminary research into the effects of infrasound on anxiety with the potential for further work to be published.
The Panic Room fuses Virtual Reality; infrasound, sound and more to create a whole body and mind experience that puts you in the shoes of someone who experiences severe anxiety and/or panic:
“When you are in The Panic Room you affect the world around you but you have no real control over what happens” says Beth of the installation, “I view this as being similar to my experience of severe anxiety; in the middle of an attack you are aware that you are creating these symptoms but you feel helpless over the situation and cannot disentangle yourself from the nightmarish situation. You literally fear you are going to die or going crazy. By placing people in a constructed environment that takes away their control, I hope to reproduce some of the symptoms of anxiety and create a sense of empathy with those who, like me, live every day with this experience”.
In July Beth was lucky enough to receive Grants for the Arts support from Arts Council England which has enabled her to purchase the equipment and pay the VR artists necessary to bring The Panic Room to life. “This support from the Arts Council and the help I have received from University of Portsmouth’s VR Lab, as well as the advice and input from experts in the field has been invaluable to realising this installation” Beth said; “I wanted to create an authentic experience that was both fantastical and very real, and which actually had the potential to really change how people think. This has become very important to me in my work in recent years: to find a way to translate an abstract idea into something corporeal that can be experienced; in particular things that relate to health and reactions to visible and invisible disease”.
The Panic Room has its first outing at the University of Portsmouth’s Eldon Building this August and will open with a preview evening between 6-8pm on Friday August 26th where people are invited to have a look at The Panic Room and learn more about the ideas behind it.
The Panic Room is open between Tuesday 30th and Friday 2nd September between 2-6pm each day in Room 3.08 Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue
The Panic Room can accommodate one person at a time and you can sign up to experience it at http://sticksgallery.co.uk/thepanicroom