Chair Persons: Jane Grant & John Matthias
Presenters: Oron Catts, Paul Broks & Magnus Richardson
Rather than considering the aesthetics of art and music as a way of approaching an understanding of perception and brain function, NeuroArts emphasizes the direct use of Neuroscientific models and materials in artistic practice. In NeuroArts, neurons and neuronal models are examined outside of the body/brain emphasizing an artistic-engineering approach with either the physical material of brain, or the adaptation of biological models of spiking neurons. In using models of spiking neurons within art, sound and music, the internal structure of the brain becomes external, its plasticity exposed, its pathways and networks malleable. This gives us a standpoint from which to critically engage and question multi-scale concepts such as the importance of the cell, network topology and plasticity, self-hood, memory and consciousness. The first International NeuroArts conference outlining the new subject area which took place in February 2011 at University of Plymouth. NeuroArts at ISEA develops key themes from the first International NeuroArts Conference, and will consider two main themes:
- Philosophies of scale within NeuroArts: from the scale of the single cell to the mesoscopic scale of brain emulations through to emergent large-scale phenomena including self-hood and consciousness.
- What are the relationships between plasticity, stimulation and firing patterns in small brain circuits? And, how can their adaptation in artistic projects alongside synaptic plasticity, and cellular topologies be exploited to make adaptive art?
We hope that the explorations of these themes will help to define the boundaries of this new subject within an interdisciplinary environment.
- Jane Grant is an interdisciplinary artist and academic. Her work often draws on scientific ideas, both contemporary and historical. Her collaborative work with scientists, musicians, composers and designers has resulted in award winning projects including, The Fragmented Orchestra with John Matthias and Nick Ryan which was winner of the PRSF New Music Award, 2008 and received an Honorary Mention at Prix Ars Electronic 2009, Hybrid Arts Category. The Fragmented Orchestra was exhibited at FACT and 23 sites across the UK. Recent work includes Soft Moon and Leaving Earth, both films influenced by astrophysical science and literature with specific reference to the written work of Italo Calvino and Stanislaw Lem. Her forthcoming projects include the interactive sonic artwork Ghost, one of the developments of The Fragmented Orchestra. In Ghost the temporal, topological networks and pathways of the brain are explored in conjunction brain hallucination or ‘sonic ghosts’. Other new works include a series of photographic drawings regarding dark matter that seek to explore ways to represent the unseen in art and science. She was awarded an AHRC grant for the project Threshold – Merging the Human Voice with Neurological Time Patterns, and she has received funding for her work from the Arts Council and the British Council. Jane is Associate Professor (Reader) in Digital Arts in the School of Media and Photography, Principal Supervisor, CiiA Node, Planetary Collegium, and co-director of the art + sound research group, University of Plymouth, UK.
- John Matthias is a musician, composer and physicist. In 2008, he won the PRS Foundation New Music Award (the musical equivalent of ‘The Turner Prize’) with Jane Grant and Nick Ryan for the development of a huge sonic installation entitled The Fragmented Orchestra which also won an Honourary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 2009. He has released three albums, Smalltown, Shining (2001) on the Accidental label, Stories from the Watercooler (2008) on the Ninja Tune/ Counter label and Cortical Songs (2008/2009) (with Nick Ryan), a work for string orchestra and solo violin on the Nonclassical record label, which was listed by Time Out (Chicago in the top-ten classical albums of 2009. He has worked with many recording artists including Radiohead and Coldcut and has performed extensively including at the Wordless Music Series in New York, The Pompidou Centre in Paris and at the Union Chapel in London. He is Associate Professor in Sonic Arts and co-director of the art + sound research group at the University of Plymouth (UK) and is currently developing new instruments and compositional processes relating to sonic events and spiking neurons. These initiatives include orchestral composition, distributed systems and the development of a new Neuronal Music Technology and will form the basis of many new works and artistic collaborations.