The project Tree of Knowledge explores interactions between art and science by using novel cell imaging and tissue culture technologies in order to create live sculptures.
When creating a sculpture, the choice of medium is critical as it directly has an effect on how the sculpture is experienced. For example, the same object made of wood, stone or steel can have a different meaning, and can drive a different response in the beholder. When considering what would be the most adequate medium to represent the 3D structure of neurons, I concluded that I ought to use neurons themselves. By covering a scaffold with live neurons, or by filling glass tubes with these cells, one can achieve a representation of the delicate structure, maintaining the dynamic nature of a neuron: always changing, establishing new connections, eliminating old ones, growing, living. It is important to note that this strategy is not an attempt to represent reality as accurately as possible, but simply to explore the material that seems more adequate to represent such a living object. Such sculptures are a form of art that is literally alive.
Tree of Knowledge:
Developed at SymbioticA, University of Western Australia, in collaboration with scientists
from Dr. Giles Plant’s group and artists from SymbioticA (Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr).
With the help of Dr. Miguel Vaz Afonso (Max Plank Institute Munich).
Tags: installation, cell culture, neurons, neurobiology, biology, art, bioart, sculpture, live cells, representation.