[ISEA2008] Paper: Jill Scott – Neuro-Media


The author claims that an informed and critical use of mediated technology can be combined with scientific investigation to construct new metaphorical interpretations which can raise public awareness. The results are interactive interpretations, which not only compliment the essential components of neural behaviour (contraction, adhesion, expansion, and retraction) but transform into a type of new knowledge and hence constitute a novel trans-disciplinary practice that the author calls: Neuro-Media. The main aims of Neuro-Media are to generate a high level of discussion within the scientific community itself, encourage collaboration between diverse individuals working in relation to neurobiology and create a transitional space between the artist, the scientific researcher and the public space.

This particular paper explores the combination of scientific research with media art about human eye disease and retinal behaviour in order to demystifying neurobiology for the general public. It includes a case study (1) as well as an example of Neuro-media (2). The case study is about the high incidence of glaucoma in the developing countries of Asia. This development is a great humanitarian loss, as blindness caused by the more common form of Glaucoma (open angle glaucoma) is largely preventable with access to existing medical technology. The study, conducted by Department of Ophthalmology, National University of Singapore, concludes that incidence of glaucoma in the Chinese community of Singapore itself is also definitely on the increase. A specific example of Neuro-Media entitled: The Electric Retina (2008) will be used as an example to reflect upon the research agendas of neurobiology researchers to combat diseases like Glaucoma. This mediated sculpture attempts to raise awareness about the relation between visual scientific research evidence and human disease. Through exhibition in popular science shows (“Parcours des Wissens”, 2008) the Electric Retina allows the public to gain a deeper insight into the genetic control of visual system development and function by analysis of zebra fish mutants-the main animals used for research in human eye disease. It uses interactive film to trace the evidence of this research and projected films to show how visual impairment can affect the animal’s behaviour.

By combining these case studies in specific Asian communities with actual scientific research and artistic interpretation, the author traces the impact that Neuro-Media could have on the future of human health and the raising of public awareness.

With special thanks to: The Neuhauss Lab, Esp: Corrine Hodel, Prof. Dr. Stephan Neuhauss, Melody Huang, Oliver Biehlmaier, Colette Maurer, Markus Tschopp, Marion Haug.

  • Prof. Dr. Jill Scott was born in 1952, in Melbourne, Australia and has been working and living in Switzerland since 2003. Currently she is Professor for Research in the Institute Cultural Studies in Art, Media and Design at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) in Zurich and Co-Director of the Artists-in-Labs Program (a collaboration with the Ministry for Culture, Switzerland) which places artists from all disciplines into physics, computer, engineering and life science labs to learn about scientific research and make creative interpretations. She is also Vice Director of the Z-Node PHD program on art and science at the University of Plymouth, UK. Her recent publications include: Artists-in-labs Processes of Inquiry: 2006 Springer/Vienna/New York, and Coded Characters Hatje Cantz 2002, Ed. Marille Hahne. Her education includes: PhD, University of Wales (UK) MA USF, San Francisco, as well as a Degree in Education (Uni Melbourne) and a Degree in Art and Design (Victoria College of the Arts). She has been an artist-in residence at the ZKM, Karlsruhe, Professor of Interactive Environments- Bauhaus University, Weimar and Media lecturer and Director of the Australian Video Festival at the University of New South Wales Sydney. Since 1975, she has exhibited many video artworks, conceptual performances and interactive environments in USA, Japan, Australia and Europe. Her most recent works involve the construction of interactive media and electronic sculptures based on studies she has conducted in neuroscience- particularly in somatic response and artificial skin (e-skin from 2003) and in retinal neuro-morphology. Currently, she is also artist-in-residence with the Stefan Neuhauss Neurobiology group: Institute for Zoology, University of Zurich, Switzerland. artistsinlabs.ch   

Full text (PDF) p.  406-408