The Four Humours

By Warren Garland

Warren Garland, Phlegm-Phlegmatic, 2021 // 05’34” // Series: The Four Humours (Welcome To Baltia)

Warren Garland, Black Bile-Melancholia, 2021 // 04’28” // Series: The Four Humours (Welcome To Baltia)

Warren Garland, Yellow Bile-Choleric, 2021 // 05’03” // Series: The Four Humours (Welcome To Baltia)

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Warren Garland, Blood-Sanguine, 2021 // 04’58” // Series: The Four Humours (Welcome To Baltia)

Exhibition Dates : 4 February – 1 May 2021

Visits are online, right here <3

The Four Humours is a digital exhibition by Warren Garland, shown online at Darling Pearls & Co’s website. The exhibition presents, over the period of three months, four new video art pieces from the ongoing web based series Welcome To Baltia. Each of the new works uses found footage gathered from the internet to playfully explore the elements, philosophies and remedies that underpin humouralism and how these affect the mythological island of Baltia during a health emergency. 

Originally described by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, in Greco-Roman geography Baltia was a mysterious island in northern Europe connected with the production of amber. The exact location of Baltia has always been disputed. The Baltia presented by Garland at welcometobaltia.com is a dystopian update that parallels our real world. Various satellites, Google Earth, computer signals, wi-fi and other virtual residues are presented as proof of the island’s new, mutated existence. 

The last of the four films shown by Darling Pearls & Co is Phlegm-Phlegmatic. Through collage and montage the work seeks to explore the phlegmatic temperament as well as the humoural characteristics of old age, Winter, death and acceptance. The previously released film Black Bile-Melancholia seeks to show the duality of negative and positive emotions which embody melancholia. It explores the nostalgia often associated with this condition whilst referencing humoural characteristics of midlife, Autumn and reflexivity. Yellow Bile-Choleric, the second film from the series, shows underlying characteristics of young adulthood, Summer and aggression, while Blood-Sanguine, the first film from the series has distinctive qualities of Spring, youthfulness and happiness. Following the chronological structure of humouralism, the works playfully reveal symptoms, treatments and coping mechanisms within these strange times on the island of Baltia. The series considers the psychological outlook of the humour which titles each film, how this applies to current day events, the projection of idealist dreams, and the pursuit of a perceived happiness in the future.

Humouralism was the principal form of medical theory for almost two thousands years, dating back to 500 BC to ancient Greece and accredited to Hippocrates. These theories of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment only started dying out because of medical advancements around the time of the enlightenment. In an era before the discovery of micro-organisms, physicians attempted to treat illness by balancing the humours. Patients were bled and purged and given poisons like arsenic, which was thought to regulate the black bile imbalance believed to cause the plague. Like a horoscope or the lines on a hand, the balance of the fluids was believed to be unique for each individual, and to determine personality traits and moods. The theory assumed no body-mind dualism. Each fluid also corresponded to a season, to a chronological period in a person’s life, and ultimately to temperament traits and behavioural deviations. In Garland’s four films, our contemporary unrest and social upheaval is attributed to a humoural imbalance afflicting the body politic.

Footage Credits // Blood-Sanguine

Footage Credits // Yellow Bile-Choleric

Footage Credits // Black Bile-Melancholia

Footage Credits // Phlegm-Phlegmatic

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Warren Garland is a visual artist, printmaker, filmmaker, and curator born in Birmingham and based in London. His practice as a filmmaker is two-fold. He makes long form experimental documentaries that build conversations between historical references in British documentary and his personal background and lived experiences as well as short video art pieces consisting of found footage collected from the Internet then re-edited, cut out and collaged. In these short videos, he mostly works out of a self-constructed world called Baltia, which is a mythological island base somewhere in the Baltic Sea. This world allows the artist the freedom to manoeuvre and place himself in a purely fictitious world that parallels the real world of which he parodies, mimics and subverts through magical realist video and sound. – https://www.warrengarland.com

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