For the last few weeks, as well as sketching down ideas for my film works, I’ve been concentrating on some new paintings. I’m still exploring neurological connections, neurons, synapses, and MRI scans of the brain.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m very interested in the ‘map of the body’ that's located within our brain's neural tissue. The point-to-point mapping of the body surfaces in the brain is called a homunculus and is essential in the creation of a body image, and awareness of ourselves in space.
So for my new paintings, I've been exploring the brains neural networks, connections and mapping in general. Using road maps to further illustrate the idea within my work, which I’ve layered and worked into using various materials, including silk.
I’ve chosen silk as a material because of something I found out whilst visiting the ‘Mind as Matter’ exhibition at the Wellcome Trust. 'That the brain’s neural tissue is similar to the fibres of silk.' Since the exhibition I’ve been researching this further, and found some really fascinating findings to do with silk and the brain.
‘Engineers have now designed silk-based electronics that stick to the surface of the brain. The stretchable, ultrathin design would make for better brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which record brain activity in paralyzed patients and translate thoughts into movements of computer cursors or robotic arms. Because it’s so thin and flexible, a silk-based device could reach regions of the brain that were previously inaccessible.'
‘ Silk is mechanically strong--that means the films can be rolled up and inserted through a small hole in the skull--yet can dissolve into harmless biomolecules over time. When it's placed on brain tissue and wetted with saline, a silk film will shrink-wrap around the surface of the brain, bringing electrodes with it into the wrinkles of the tissue. ' AMAZING!
I was really inspired by the art work on display at the ‘Mind as Matter’ exhibition, as well the information about the brain and history of Neuroscience.
In particular I have been inspired by the intricate drawings of neurons by Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934), referred to by some as the father of modern neuroscience. Cajal's drawings of neurons were not only groundbreaking for the research of neuroscience, but also very beautiful! Cajal was a Spanish neuroscientist who was a proponent of the 'Neuron theory', a theory involving what the brain is made of, and how it communicates through synapses, and neurotransmitters.
On the trip down to London, I also visited the GV Art gallery's 'Polymath' exhibition which was really inspirational to my work.
The artists in the show all have a combined interest in art and science, in particular neuroscience: Susan Aldworth, Andrew Carnie, Katharine Dowson, Helen Pynor, and Nina Sellars.