The starting point of this project, was ritual - which is ultimately an automation process, not that of habit but a conscience construct, that reflects your own value based beliefs needs or wants.
A ritual that has become every part of modern day society is that of painkillers;
Modern life requires you to be pain-free; there just isn’t time to lie around waiting fora headache to go. Young people are more impatient than older people; when they feel pain, they want something done about it, immediately. Lost is our ability to endure. Much like the instant gratification of our technology and services, being a mere tap of a finger away from satisfaction, our pain relief is only pop of a pill away.
We see pain not as a symptom - an alarm system to warn us of illness - but more as an illness in itself. When the alarm comes on, we just want it turned off. We cannot entertain the prospect of losing speed or allowing time to reflect on the state of our physiological well being. We need to push those frictions aside by pumping our blood with fast solutions. The danger is how commercialised taking these non-prescription pills have become, they are a item both of brand loyalty, performance and convenience. Simply look at Panadol or Nurofen prices in comparison to the the non-big brand equivalent of paracetamol or ibuprofen
The change came about after Galpharm, a British pharmaceutical company, made a successful application to the Medicines Control Agency for a licence to have ibuprofen moved from the pharmacy to the “general sales list”. After that, painkiller advertising, marketing and packaging moved into a different league. My own family member had a ritual before leaving the house, more of a routine, a checklist;
Keys, phone, wallet & Solpadeine (painkillers). They would not leave the house at times knowing they did not have the stuff. Searching through washed jean pockets for sachets that had not been damaged in the wash, worn away the branding, leaving just the silver foil beneath.
The interruption to this was my intervention to an existing ritual. A striking image of a suitcase filled with a couple months worth of Solpadeine was the inspiration for the subject matter.
This piece, aims to highlight the use of medicine which has become so blasé in its intake into our bodies. To add friction to its usage through a piece of fiction. The pharmacy has become a source of relief from pain, a remedy in itself for our anxiety for being without our pain killing crutches. This speculative work aims to frame it as a ‘church’ for our pain relief, and that Solpadeine is our ‘daily bread’. The laboratory aesthetics are to invoke a reminder that these substances are made in controlled environments under the guidance of scientists and lab technicians, and should be taking with the same controlled and measured respect. In the piece, the user offers half of their tablet to the ‘Pain killing gods’ as gratitude to the relief it brings. The user begins the process by applying pressure to sensor pad to reflect the building pressure of the pain in their head before eventually enough force is applied to split the tablet.
By framing the situation in this fictional ritualistic manner and applying delay to the delivery of the medicine, it aims to question the consumer about their own decision to use the drug passively and affectionately.
‘I just love the fizz of it, I know the good feelings aren’t far away’
The offered piece of tablet dissolves to highlight that these chemicals will be in your blood reacting with your own body, with the amplification of the ‘Fizz’ that preludes what is traditionally pleasant pain relief. Turning these visceral visual and audible qualities into uneasy feelings. Adding a moment of question to prolonged drug use.