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'One-Off Factory': design exhibitions in Sunderland Decompression Chamber

10 August - 27 October 2007
Preview: Thursday 11 October 6:00 - 7:30pm 2007

Jonathan Holden's double-edged project 'Tin Gods' explores how complementary therapies might be rethought. Holden has established 'Tin Gods' as the trading name of a company whose innovative technologies and radically designed isolation chambers provide a unique form of complementary therapy.

In 'Decompression Chamber' Holden reveals a prototype for one such isolation chamber, where viewers are enclosed into a steel and aluminium 'cell', one at a time. The participant lies face down inside the chamber, their limbs submerged into water and their face resting in a Perspex stand. Once inside, they are restrained tightly in place by blocks of high-density foam which press down against them. Then, rusted steel doors are raised over the sides, and 4" thick safe doors closed at the end so that the 'patient' is securely incarcerated into a state of forced rest and darkness.

Holden conceived Tin Gods as an instrument able to inspire, or enforce, a state of psychological equilibrium in those under 'treatment'. Despite Holden's stated intention to ameliorative suffering and disquiet, the materials utilised, and the techniques that patients are subjected to, can appear less than benign. The machine's combination of clinical white fittings and cor-ten steel encasement recall the furniture of fashionable spa treatments, along with the equipment used in medieval medical practices or those of discipline and punishment.

Holden's work asks questions about the relationship between the individual and the mythical power we collectively attribute to modern medicine; what we are prepared to undergo to achieve 'wellbeing'; and what relationship exists between this 'wellbeing' and our willpower or powers of resistance.

Johnathan Holden, 'Tin Gods' 2005