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Photograph: Revital Cohen

Revital Cohen: Butterflies Flying in Formation


Revital Cohen was invited to work with Dr David Fletcher in the University’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences to respond to the concept of sporting excellence.

Butterflies Flying in Formation, investigates the psychology of the elite athlete mind-set, the body-mind connection, and how phobias of high level competing, which can be equally as paralysing as a physical injury, can be overcome.  The work asks what kind of training equipment could make an athlete stronger, not by hardening the muscles, but through conditioning their mental state.

Researching the practices of building a tough mental attitude, and sport psychology techniques, a hypothetical training tool was designed to choreograph the body into conditioning the mind. Loosely based on the principles of samurai armour, protective and impenetrable, the object, in conjunction with the ‘scorpion’, a yoga pose which clears the mind and controls the nerves in the stomach, is put into action, triggering mirror neurons* in the brain which mentally rehearse the next moves to be made.

Revital Cohen is a designer who develops critical objects and provocative scenarios, exploring the juxtaposition of the natural with the artificial. Her work spans across various mediums and includes collaborations with scientists, bioethicists and animal breeders. 

* Based on the research Functional Imaging of Motor Experience and Expertise During Action Observation (Glaser et al. 2004), UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Jacqueline Donachie

Jacqueline Donachie

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Loughborough University Arts

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Loughborough University

Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK

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