Art – Mind Map

An artwork called Mind Map by Shadric Toop which has a figure sat in front of a wall of shelves containing all his possessions which are all wired up to his head
Detail of mind map showing Alan's head wired to objects on shelves
Detail of mind map showing different coloured wires connected to objects on shelves
Aesthetica magazine front cover featuring art by Shadric Toop

Art – Mind Map

Combine artwork by Shadric Toop, 2004-2008
Photomontage, varnish, stains, acrylic paint, oil paint, electrical wire and solder on panel. 155 x 155cm

Mind Map began as a portrait of Alan, a friend and colleague. Alan had built a modular shelving system for his house. His front room was covered from floor to ceiling in these plywood boxes. He kept everything he owned in these – records, books, clothes, sketch books, bottles of gin, junk. It occurred to me that this portrait was also a document of Alan’s possessions, which in a way was a portrait of an aspect of his personality; of his mind.

Working from my studio one day, it occurred to me I could add a further layer of meaning to these possession in the picture. Via a long telephone conversation, I asked Alan to give me a score between 1 and 10 for each item that appears in the picture – the score related to the question ‘How important is this to you’, with 1 being not important at all, and 10 being extremely important. I then converted each number to a colour:

10 = red (most important)
9 = orange
8 = yellow
7 = light green
6 = dark green
5 = light blue
4 = dark blue
3, 2, 1 = black

There was also one further grade: I asked Alan to tell me if there was anything that caused him emotional pain to look at. These items would be represented by black and yellow stripes.

With this code in place, I went about creating a ‘mind map’. Using electrical wire of different colours, Alan’s head is connected to every item in the picture. Knowing the meaning of the colour coding means you can delve deeper into Alan’s mind.

In 2010, this work won the Aesthetica magazine art prize.
Aesthetica Blog: Interview with Shadric Toop

Related Work

Portraits by Shadric Toop