InSTEM Gallery 01, NCBS, Bengaluru. Sep 2019 - Jan 2020
Artist: Shashank Satish
The National Centre for Biological Sciences has been an inspiring source of knowledge and understanding about our biological world both inside and out, the sprawling sophisticated campus makes for a fertile playground for the confluence of Art and Science within the reaches of the Bangalore Bio Cluster. On being invited as the artist for the 'Lab Culture II' exhibition, I was faced with the challenge of chewing and digesting serious science carried out at the Labs within NCBS. The relationships I built with the scientists and students at the labs have been tremendous in terms of the insights into how scientists function in the laboratory culture, which I believe is not too dissimilar from that of an artist studio both in search of some aspect of the Truth. Naturally, I started off by humanizing the process of science and posing the silliest of questions to the scientists which in retrospect have been my strong points in responding as the artist on board.
My primary response to the curatorial was to look at the idea of ‘Aestheticization’ of the process of science from cues and experiments carried out at each lab. This helped me think and formulate these scientific processes as visual installations that would represent the crux of what was being studied at the respective labs. Materiality and form came in tandem while bouncing off ideas with scientists, curators, and coders which has resulted in the use of physical computation among other mediums of expression that represent an aesthetic true to the process of science.
I would like to thank the following people for constant support and help during the entire process:
Curatorial team: Ishita Shah and Netra Ajjampur.
In-Charge, Museum & Field stations facility at NCBS: Dr. Vivek Ramachandran.
Scientists and students at the following labs: Dr.Ravi Muddashetty’s Lab, Dr.Upinder Bhalla’s Lab, and Dr.Arjun Guha’s Lab.
Coding and Production: Pratyush Raman and Debanshu Bhaumik.
Medium: Plasma lamps, randomized physical computation.
There is an unfathomable order in the chaos of understanding the neurophysiology of the brain where lies a fascinating phenomenon that occurs among the billions of neurons every second of every day. The study of behavioral patterns in neural networks under microscopes is an aesthetic that happens to exist through the analysis of the firing of these neurons carrying messages across the brain as electrical impulses, each fired due to stimulus from our lived environments.
‘Impulse’ is the mimicking aestheticization in the process of visualizing electrical impulses or neuronal firing, abstracted as electric fields that are triggered by external stimuli. Neurons interact with one another through electrical impulses, carrying information as patterns and paths of electrical messages between the brain cells, this phenomenon help scientists observe and study such patterns to understand how neural networks adapt and change inside our brains. Here plasma lamps depict the triggering of neurons as electrical impulses.
Neurons in the brain interact with one another through processes called ‘Synapses’ which are either chemical or electrical in nature, these synapses in turn help in the formation of memory which is vital to our cognitive behavior in the everydayness of our existence. The chemical synapse, in particular, is the activity of electrical impulses traversing nerve endings through the process of ‘neurotransmission’ by converting into a chemical impulse and back to an electrical impulse, this whole process can only be observed through various processes but cannot be visually observed through imagery. ‘Non-spectacle’ is an aestheticization of neurotransmission, visualizing this invisible phenomenon of a chemical synapse in between the gaps of neurons that are instrumental to study how we learn and how we remember. The installation portrays electrical impulses and chemical neurotransmission, depicting the gap between neurons, where plasma lamps and lights are programmed to light up in a sequence depicting memories being formed in our brains.
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