Whose brain is it anyway?

Scanners, an immersive installation by Albinomosquito

So, my faculty, Life Sciences, opens the doors to the public to find out what scientists are working on and to tour the building. As part of our community open day every year there are stalls with hands-on activities for people to experience aspects of research or get their heads around a scientific concept.

This year I’ve invited in artists, Daksha Patel and Albinomosquito, who are interested in the brain as part of their art work.

Ramon Y Cajal Purkinje cell
Ramon Y Cajal Purkinje cell

Daksha will be showing some of her etching of nerve cells and a brain inspired animation and people will have a chance to draw nerve cells with images from the Wellcome Trust image library. I’ve picked purkinje cells, spinal cord motorneurones and two types of hippocampal neurones. What I love about drawing neurones is that the forefather of modern neuroscience, Ramon Y Cajal, drew neurones after developing a stain to visualise them under the microscope. Our first ways of knowing is through the eyes and through the hands – so its the perfect activity for all ages.

Etching of Neurone by Daksha Patel
Etching of Neurone by Daksha Patel

As part of the fellowship I’ve done a kind of residency with Albinomosquito to gain an insight into their work as they have been developing a prototype of a an immersive experience for one person that uses off the shelf brain scanners to detect EEG waves. The idea is to create a unique experience that uses focus of attention and blinking to create a narrative from a movie that the wearer watches. Its reminiscent of the DIYNeuro movement and the quantified self, but goes beyond that as its about creating new cultural experiences.

Its pretty amazing. Here’s what people said about ‘Scanners’ when it was tried out on audiences at Copenhagen’s gaming festival, Woot, in April, which I was lucky enough to go along to:

Only a few people (over 12) can experience Scanners on the day – so if you’re coming sign up quick!

Both artists were keen to meet neuroscientists so i thought this was a great starting point and for the public to see its not just scientists interested in the brain and for them to network with scientists on an equal footing – professionals working alongside other professionals.

6th July 2013, 11:00-15:00.

The Faculty of Life Sciences Open day is a free event taking place in the Michael Smith Building (number 71 on the Campus Map), The University of Manchester

No need to book – just drop in.

Suitable for all ages.

Free Parking.

I’m certainly looking forward to it!


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