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Blackout Immersive

Fuse Arts landmark & ground breaking multi-media installation that gives unique insight into the bi-polar mind.

Blackout Immersive is a ground breaking multi-media installation that gives a unique insight into the Bi-Polar mind. Part art installation, part immersive theatre and part educational initiative, Blackout Immersive was created to address the fundamental gap in understanding between those with mental health challenges and those without.

The installation provides a single viewer with a totally immersive 6-minute multisensory journey through a Bi-Polar cycle of mania and depression. It fuses art, technology, science and research in an attempt to change perceptions of mental illness and dissolve some of the unhelpful labels attached to it. It also hopes to provoke discussion and offer support to those who continue to suffer in silence.

Blackout Immersive is the brainchild of Mig Burgess, a professional theatre technician, lighting designer and academic who has battled with mental illness throughout her life. The installation charts her on going personal experience of Bi-Polar ii, using images and soundscapes from her life.

“In my lifetime I’ve never known mental health to be so much in the public eye. As someone that suffers it’s lovely to see people start to talk about it. This project is my attempt to show the world what it’s like to have manic depression. It’s my response to the growing trend of raising awareness about mental health conditions. Sometimes trying to put how I feel in words is difficult, I wanted to try and present something visual and interactive. I’m comfortable with who I am now, accepting of my condition and what that means for my day-to-day life. I’ve worked hard to understand, reflect and and provoke the discussion. If we all talk more, and listen perhaps we can cultivate a more understanding society; so that people who suffer with mental health conditions don’t feel stigmatised, but instead are free to be open, honest and talk about how they feel.”

– Mig Burgess - 2019

‘We enter an intimate space, alone. We stand on a raised platform that vibrates and bleeds light. We are surrounded by a complex tapestry of LED strips representing the neurons and synapses of Mig’s brain. We are inside her subconscious mind. Beyond the lights, projection screens wrap around us, showing Mig’s perception of the outside world. Our journey takes us through the unsustainable highs of hypomania and the crushing lows of depression. It charts the interplay between the outside and inside world - showing how innocuous triggers can disrupt the fragile circuitry of the BiPolar brain, how mania can blur into abstracted perception, how desolate and painful it can be when the shutters finally come down and how exhausting it is to regain mental balance. This is Mig’s world interpreted in the only way she knows – through the tools of her profession and using the language of technical theatre.'

You can watch a 360 degree filmed version of Blackout HERE:

Blackout Immersive was first staged at Guildford School of Acting in May 2019. Those who were invited to experience it – industry professionals, sufferers of Bi-Polar or depression, mental health carers and the general public - were profoundly moved by the experience, sometimes to tears.

Our ambition is that Blackout Immersive travels as widely as possible, visiting arts venues and community spaces nationwide - provoking discussion, bridging understanding and offering guidance to diverse audiences and demographics. Wherever it visits, it will always be accompanied by comprehensive safeguarding arrangements so that those affected by it can respond, engage and find the help they need.

The project was fully evaluated by Dr Paul Hanna of the University of Surrey and his team will continue to work alongside us as Blackout reaches new audiences, ultimately producing landmark research on people’s changing attitudes to mental health.

“Blackout offers an opportunity to break down some of the social barriers to understanding mental health by enabling direct communication between the individual diagnosed with Bi-Polar and the general audience in a creative and immersive way, something I have certainly never seen before. I was humbled to see how much the audience connected to the experiences and spoke openly about how the experience challenged their views on mental health, enabling them to better understand what it is like to live with Bi-Polar and appreciate that individuals diagnosed with the condition are not ‘abnormal’ but just experience their life in different ways. From the initial analysis of the data the experience was well received with 94% feeling Blackout was a good way to show what it is like to live with a mental diagnosis, 99% were pleased they took part in the experience and 96% suggesting they would recommend the event to others.”

- Dr. Paul Hanna-