Vancouver artist creates human-powered weighted blanket

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The project was created out of concern for those whose mental health had deteriorated due to isolation and loneliness

Vancouver artist tackles secondary pandemic accompanying coronavirus (COVID-19), that of deteriorating mental health due to isolation, loneliness and lack of physical contact.

Joshua Oliver, aka Red Jay, is a self-proclaimed “video artist” whose latest book is called “Human Weighted Blanket”. So far we only have the trailer, but it shows three Canadians, including a transgender musician, a Syrian refugee, and a young college student testing what they believe to be an ordinary weighted blanket. However, it is teasingly revealed that the weighted blanket in question was actually made up of Platonic Human Touch Therapists.

Therapists range from professional somatic bodyworkers, to professional massage therapists and hugs. The “general” testers were chosen based on how the pandemic negatively affected their mental health in one way or another. The musician, for example, is grappling with the suicide of her first love and the student has trouble living with her family on the other side of the world.

“The video follows their journey throughout the day as they share their story, get the truth revealed and ultimately decide whether they want to take advantage of the offer,” a statement on the project said.

The video will officially launch on World Mental Health Day (October 10) and will be accompanied by a pop-up event featuring cuddle / touch therapy sessions to the general public with the same Platonic Touch Therapists featured in the video.

With all the planning, ethics and COVID-19 measures taken, the video took 10 months to create. Yet, according to Red Jay, it is a necessary project as the world has started to open up again and physical contact with strangers is now back on our radars.

“Since we have to relearn and trust close to those around us again, and it’s almost like we’ve forgotten the huge benefits that physical touch can have,” Jay said.

The video’s release and launch also marks the removal of the non-fungible token (NFT) from the project, after Red Jay was set up to be featured on Infinite, the carbon negative NFT gallery. The artist hopes to finance his next project with the sales of gout and in turn establish a sustainable model for his future creations of artivism.

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