[ISEA2011] Panel: Jane Grant & John Matthias (moderators) – NeuroArts

Panel Statement

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.