Ideas Matter Sphere – Pattern Completion – Neuroscience meets Visual Art & Sound
Elizabeth Murton, http://www.elizabethmurton.co.uk our ZAP / DIY Educate Colleague also runs
http://www.ideas-matter-sphere.com a catalyst for cross disciplinary discussion. Below are my notes on the intriguing talk I attended- engaging and thought provoking….
In 2010 neuroscientist Hugo Spiers, sound designer Tom Simmons and artist Michaela Nettell developed an audio-visual installation to explore ways in which networks of brain cells recall memories.
Neuroscientist and lecturer at UCL
Hugo’s research is concerned with how we use our brain to remember the past, navigate space, and imagine the future. www.ucl.ac.uk/spierslab
What is a memory? Life-defining moments. Memories such as your first kiss are encoded in the brain. But how do you retrieve those memories ten years later? The hippocampus is a crucial part of the brain for memory – if part of the hippocampus is damaged you may lose all your memories. Thousands of cells in your brain get excited by experiences e.g. going to a bar, that contains memories of other times (it was great to be in a bar): the emphasis of excitement.
A lot of memories are spatial: your brain is constantly processing and structuring the space around you.
What are memories? Spatial understanding.
Information pulsing between connectors takes information from the physicality of the situation – sound and sight. Cells get excited by that sight and sound re-emerging. So a name in itself reverberating in your brain can summon up sight and sound of that person. Memories can be incredibly faulty – we add to the stories taking on board other perspectives and context. Fragility of memory.
Voluntary and involuntary memory – both are important in evolutionary terms e.g you may not have a specific memory of a dangerous situation but an instinct will come into play.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – regions of the brain that deal with memory and anxiety are very closely connected, in some cases people cannot escape these experiences of trauma.
Michaela creates videos and installations that explore the potential of projection techniques to affect relations of space, optics and memory.
The collaboration developed from Michaela’s 2007 video installation Bathysphere, in which snippets of video relating to water – traveling on water, bubbles, swimming – were projected into a constellation of glass spheres. Suspended in space the spheres become capsules for fleeting memories, triggering narratives and associations. Her work is informed by the materiality of glass and relationships between glass and projected light.
In Pattern Completion woodland scenes are projected in fragments into an arrangement of four glass spheres. Sounds and images are shuffled between the spheres so that compositions that initially appear jumbled gradually come together into coherent scenes. Gaps between spheres mean that the scenes are always incomplete – audiences are invited to fill in the spaces with memories of their own. Imagery of pathways and clearings important to enhance sense of distance and depth; also to lead your eyes into the picture, trains of thought.
Scenes are empty of people and events so audiences can develop their own experiences and memories based on what they see. The installation aims to be conducive to memory but doesn’t offer specific narrative.
Visual sequences created through a manipulated time-lapse effect. Emphasising intervals, spaces between, expanding time. Helps you engage, allowing time to experience processes within the image and within the installation.
Sound designer and Senior Lecturer at Norwich University College of the Arts
Tom’s work focuses on ways in which we perceive and experience sounds and animated moving images.www.tom-simmons.net
Sound recordings provide precise spatial details about the forest surroundings, establishing relationships between sounds and images. Large and small scale recordings – from whole environments to close objects and liquids; recordings taken at different times of day and night.
Sounds are experienced through wireless headphones – audience free to move through installation space, changing relationships between projected imagery and sounds.
Listening space – size of glass spheres and relationship to our heads.
Embodied – rather than immersive – installation experience.
Navigating the future – your brain prepares you for future scenarios by coming up with maps of situation, not just geographical but relationally, especially during sleep.
Enjoy and engage!