Reflexology of Russian verse, 2021
Pavel Arseniev
Documentary installation
Beginning in the 19th century, experimental physiological science set the tone not only in natural sciences but also in culture and, oddly enough, even influenced literature a lot. The most famous conceptual character of Russian realism is the frog dissected by Bazarov but this is rarely paid more attention than just a "meme" from the school curriculum.

Nietzsche wrote about aesthetics as an applied section of physiology, Andrei Bely argued and Russian formalists checked their theoretical guidelines but this adjacent — for science and literature — history still requires its reconstruction, the task of which is set by the installation-research "Reflexology of Russian Verse".

It all started with the 19th century French experimental physiologist Claude Bernard, who became a legend during his lifetime — not only in science but also as a model of the literary program of Emile Zola’s "experimental novel" (1879). Experimental in a naturalistic novel is exactly what it borrows from Bernard’s work — "Introduction à la médecine expérimentale" (1865), which Zola rewrites almost literally, changing the word "medicine" in it, but the word "novel". The first case of the application of the concept of "experiment" to literature thus turns out to be textologically indebted to physiology.

Finally, Bernard’s experiments are repeated — finding a mistake in them — by Sechenov who is considered the founder of Russian physiology and Pavlov’s teacher and also the prototype of that very Bazarov (Turgenev attended Sechenov’s lectures).

In his project "Reflexology of Russian Verse" Pavel Arseniev reconstructs this related history of experimental science and literature of the psychophysiological cycle — through the laboratory equipment of neurophysiologists in which a frog and a bearer of regional dialects (kymograph), a poet-brainstorm and Lev Tolstoy (phonograph), are trapped alternately, Russian and French phonetics and ethno-politics.