Friday, 21 August 2009

The Brain Unravelled (Cardboard Brain)

I’ve been clocking up quite a few late nights recently, trying to complete a new sculpture for the forthcoming exhibition, The Brain Unravelled, at the Slade Research Centre in Woburn Square, London. The show opens in a couple of weeks on the 7th September but to be perfectly honest, progress so far has been a bit slow. My idea for the show was to make a mass of interlocking, multi angled periscopes. Above, you can see my initial sketch which I’ve been using as a loose working drawing. For this piece I’ve been working with cardboard and Perspex mirrors. I had initially toyed with the idea of making it out of wood but considering the limited time frame that I had to work with that seemed a little unrealistic. Plus, after working in cardboard on the maquette for my last sculpture, I had started to develop a bit of an appreciation for the versatilities of this under rated material – which can be surprisingly strong, when used correctly.
Anyway – getting away from my peculiar obsession with materials – I suppose I should mention something about the show and the reasoning behind my sculpture.
The Brain Unravelled is a multi-disciplinary exhibition, pulling together the fields of art, anthropology and neuroscience (I can’t wait to see what the boffins are bringing to the party – it should be amazing). As well as the artwork, which will include painting, photography, mixed media, installation, sculpture, textile, film and some experimental anthropology, there will be a series of talks and events during the show which runs from 7th – 19th September. One of the central themes of the show is the ‘concept’ of consciousness. The show also aims to highlight some of the fascinating areas of current brain research – whilst also drawing our attention to how little we still know about the workings of the mind. Amongst the many people contributing to the show you will find Anthony Gormley, Storm Thorgerson, Future Sound of London, Liliane Lijn, Beau Lotto, Chris Knight, Brian Butterworth, Chris Frith and many more. For details of the show and links to all the artists and scientists personal sites check out -
Although I have strong interests in certain areas of neuroscience and contemporary physics I do admit that most of it goes over my head, so I’m approaching the work for this show from a more intuitive stance. I see my piece as a being a very basic analogy of one aspect of the brain – that of an imperfect (yet marvellous) device for perceiving and interacting with the outside world. I am fascinated by the fact that the world we see around us only exists that way in our heads, because that is the way that our limited senses translate what information we can absorb.
The piece that I am building will rely on viewer interaction to a certain extent. By looking into one of the many window sections of the work the viewer will see what appears to be a distant window to the world outside of the sculpture. However, a series of mirrors will have been reflecting this view over a number of right angles so that if someone else happened to look back at the viewer from the other end of that particular section of the sculpture they may appear upside down to the original viewer and could even be standing next to them, rather than down the other end of what appears to be a long straight corridor. So the viewer sees what the cardboard brain sees - a distorted and isolated view of the world outside.

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