In a side street gallery off Brick Lane this Thursday evening, artists and scientists came together to present to a public culmination of several months’ collaboration. With enough distressed wood and exposed electrical-work to live up to its E1 postcode, the Rag Factory was abuzz with curious minds from the worlds of science and art. The event was the opening night of a 4-day exhibition by Art Neuro, a group of neuroscientists hoping to engage the public with science through art. The premise is simple. The formula, as they put it, is as follows:
4 curators + (1 scientist x 1 artist) x 16 / 3 months = engaging and unique exhibition
Sixteen pairs of neuroscientists and artists worked together to foster the creation of a varied assortment of art work – a cartoon strip charting the life of a nicotine-addicted laboratory bumblebee, a patchwork textile piece exploring the neurology of autism, and striking pop art-like images inspired by tests for a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease – are just some of the fascinating pieces which show-case the symbiosis that can occur between science and art.
As well as visual art, the exhibition will be complimented by events to continue the conversation, including the opportunity to ‘knit a neuron’ and the popular stand-up show, Science Showoff.
Art and neuroscience might not seem like the most likely of bedfellows, but the two disciplines share a long history of anatomical artistry. Indeed, Art Neuro has a specific focus on ideologies and methodologies that are common to both scientists and artists alike. Kate Hughes, one of the artists involved explains the parallels between herself and the scientist she was paired with: ‘We are both problem solvers, enquiring minds exploring a common humanity, trying to communicate our discoveries’.
Although initially suggestive of an interdisciplinary experiment, it becomes clear that most pieces are created by the artists, with the scientists and their work serving as inspirational stimuli. The products are often brilliant science-inspired pieces of art, but it seems that there was little transcending of boundaries. Nevertheless, the results are engaging, provocative and have genuine artistic merit, and in that, Art Neuro has proven its hypothesis – art and science really can get along.
The Art Neuro exhibition is open 10am-10pm and runs until the 9th November at the Rag Factory, Brick Lane.