This New Central London Installation Aims To Mimic The Feeling Of Social Anxiety

A trip into central London via Tottenham Court Road usually means a peek inside the Now Building at Outernet, which has become synonymous with rolling free exhibits of light and colour.

For Mental Health Awareness Week (May 15 – 21), the giant space has unveiled a thought-provoking installation that goes by the name of ‘Monolith. By its very nature, it raises awareness and provides insight into the feeling of social anxiety, with beams of shaking lights that react to people entering the space.

Monolith exhibition at Outernet
Image: Outernet

What is Monolith?

Monolith is the creation of artist Jack Dartford, who designed this powerful and immersive work to explore anxiety and the feeling of its symptoms during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Using the technology available at the Now Building, Monolith aims to raise awareness by reacting in real-time to the crowds of people entering its space. Visitors will notice millions of particles on the screen that grows increasingly frantic as the crowd grows bigger, with the speed of the process simulating this common symptom endured by people who suffer from social anxiety.

Monolith immersive exhibit at Outernet
Image: Outernet

The simulation is underscored by a soundtrack to accompany the feeling of sensory overload. Artist Halina Rice, who produced the sounds for Monolith, flitters between calming tones to pulsating, unsettling basslines in a matter of moments.

Monolith is designed to offer a moment of empathy by encouraging anyone to enter a space over overstimulation, which provides an insight into part of the experience of suffering from an anxiety-induced panic attack.

Monolith immersive exhibit at Outernet
Image: Outernet

How did ‘Monolith’ come about?

Created by Jack Dartford and soundtracked by Halina Rice, has arrived as part of a collaborated campaign with ADOT, Outernet’s official charity, and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

ADOT partners with other charities to provide support, and has joined forces with CALM to help deliver Monolth for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Jack Dartford, the artist behind Monolith, said: “Having experienced severe anxiety myself, especially throughout childhood, I wanted to find a way to create something that really helped others understand what the feelings can be like.

“As someone on the Autistic Spectrum, I often find it easier to express emotions through visual mediums instead of verbally. Monolith represents and emulates our sometimes hidden vulnerability and a way I hope of bringing people together to understand more about how anxiety can feel.

“Monolith represents the mental state, as more people gather, the more anxious it becomes.”

Monolith can be found at the Now Building, Centre Point, WC2H 8LH (nearest station is Tottenham Court Road between May 15 – 21.