Artists have been trying to represent in portraits not only the physical appearance of the subject, but also characteristics of the personality, by using the pose, elements in the composition, and even the choice of technique. Science has developed powerful techniques to visualize what is hidden under the skin: and not only morphological characteristics, but also functional data.
In this work I have been using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain, in order to visualize the regions of the brain that are active while a given task is being performed. With this visual information it becomes possible to create portraits – functional portraits – where besides the physical appearance of the subject, the function of its brain while performing a chosen task is represented.
For example, I created a self-portrait incorporating images of my brain activity while drawing inside the fMRI scanner; a portrait of scientist Dr. Patricia Figueiredo allows the visualization of her brain activity while she was playing the piano.
Developed with help from scientist Patrícia Figueiredo (University of Oxord), Matthew Higginbottom (video animation) and Judie Waldmann (photography). With assistance from a Hothaus bursary from Vivid, Birmingham.
Tags: self portrait, portrait, human body, brain activity, identity, bioart, art, medical imaging, art, installation, biology, functional magnetic resonance scan.