Can The Human Brain Become Art?

When looking at science and art, the first thing many people may notice is the fact that they are two completely different subjects. Although, there is much more connecting the two than we may think.

 If you love science, but also love art and do not know how to merge the two matters, here is a perspective from Susan Aldworth, an artist who utilized her inspiration from the human brain and neuroscience. “During a diagnostic brain scan, I found myself lying on a hospital bed watching the anatomical workings of my brain real-time on a monitor. It was a seminal moment. I was watching myself think. What then is a brain? How can a piece of flesh summon up consciousness, imagination and a sense of self? Since then I have collaborated with doctors, neuroscientists, and philosophers in pursuit of an understanding of workings of the mind. I have developed radical print techniques, sometimes using brain scans alongside drawn and chemical marks, to visualize and find a voice for my thoughts about the fragile relationship between the brain and our sense of self. The fragility of being human.”- Susan Aldworth

Susan Aldworth’s exhibition, Transience, is based on a suite of etchings taken from slices of human brain tissue. The project was a collaboration between Aldworth and the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank, and it was the first time that a human brain has ever been used to print from directly. So how was it done? Since Aldworth had decided to etch her drawings it had to have been done in a specific way. 

The cross-sections of brain slices were placed onto the metal etching plate directly, which ended up interacting with the natural fattiness of the tissue and formaldehyde, leaving a greasy, chemical trace of the brain. It was then removed, and the etching plate was dipped in acid to fix the impression. 

The results were otherworldly; the brain was revealed as fragile and luminescent, it was an intricately detailed landscape that emitted an almost phosphorescent glow.

This was just one way where science and art had come together in order to form an unparalleled method of creating an artwork.

Art makes the invisible, visible. 

Fabian Oefner is a Swiss photographer who uses photography to combine art and science. His work often demonstrates the beauty of scientific phenomena. Using fire, iridescence, sound waves, and centripetal forces, he creates and captures fascinating images.

sound is always a vibration, no matter the song or voice which is playing. sounds move in waves, as a result of the compression and rarefaction of the air molecules. Once the wave reaches our ear, our brain refracts it back into a noise, a melody, etc.

Fabian wanted to turn the audible signal which travels as a wave, into a visual signal since we cannot physically see the wave. A thin plastic foil was mounted on top of the membrane of a common loudspeaker. hundreds of colourful, tiny crystals were placed onto the foil. Every time that a sound would play through the speaker, the vibration caused by that sound made the crystals jump up and down, forming into these peculiar looking forms and figures. The figures change their appearance depending on the frequency, pitch and volume of the tone. The invisible soundwaves have become physical through art. Now, this happens in the blink of an eye, so a motion camera that is able to capture more than 3,000 frames per second is able to catch this.

Moulding art and science together allow for one to speak to not only a person’s heart through the emotional aspect of art but also to the mind through the implementation of science. This experiment which joins art and science together can even be done at home, with the right materials and enough time, you can combine your interests of physics and art into one beautiful creation!

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