Sci-Artist Laura Splan

I see in my referrer log that somebody found this blog by Googling for "art made with blood." What a handy coincidence…

I've recently discovered the innovative work of artist Laura Splan, who creates 2D and 3D pieces with materials as diverse as doilies, cosmetic facial peels, medical equipment, hand latch-hooked rugs, and of course blood, taken from her fingertip and used as ink. Concurrent with her art degree she studied microbiology, and has a family background in the medical field, which she draws inspiration from.

Several of her series, including Reflexive 1, 2, and 3 and Thought Patterns, utilize neuroanatomical imagery drawn in blood; she describes them thusly:

Thought Patterns is a series of images inspired by neuroanatomical structures. Each drawing was created using blood taken from my fingertips as the primary medium. The series explores the relationship between the images being depicted and the source of the medium with which they are drawn. I was drawn to these images as a formal exploration of the elements of our body that tell us we sense pain or pleasure. The images of neurons and other brain structures evoke the complex psychological and physiological responses our body has to outside forces. The forms of the brain structures act as visual metaphors for the extreme complexity and delicate fragility of the human body.

The above drawing is part of the Reflexive 2 triptych.

Delicate Structures, Innate Forces is a solo exhibition of her work at the New York Hall of Science, presented by Art and Science Collaborations, Inc., currently showing through to January 2007. It includes Thought Patterns and Reflexive blood drawings, doilies designed with virus structures, and many other highly original and fascinating works.



After writing about mechanical brains recently, this cyborg image by DarkArt.cz caught my eye. As did the event.

Futurepunk is a loose collective of UK industrial punk/EBM musicians and artists. Listen to Futurepunk radio, and download free music at some of the artists' sites; the "transhumanist apocalypse chic" group Xykogen offers a new EP, and Deathboy has made available their entire back catalogue. [Edit - now there's also a Futurepunk compilation album featuring all the bands.]

If you're near Camden on Nov. 23, go see Futurepunk23 with Deathboy, Xykogen, History of Guns, and others. Good times. I'd go but Google Maps won't give me driving directions from Canada and I worry about getting lost in Greenland.



James Hughes speaks with neurologist and American Neuropsychiatric Association president Richard Restak about neurosociety and his new book The Naked Brain, on essential transhumanist podcast Changesurfer Radio. Click to listen (mp3).

Dr. Hughes has a crowded CV; Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics of Emerging Technology, Health Policy professor at Trinity College, author of Citizen Cyborg, and more. Recently he stepped down as executive director of the World Transhumanist Association, moving into the future following two successful years.

WTA Vice Chair Giulio Prisco is his successor. Prisco established a large transhumanist virtual presence in Second Life, including live webcast of the TransVision06 conference in Helsinki, Finland. (Screenshot below.)


Cultural neuron cultures

BrainWaves is a musical performance by cultured cortical cells interfacing with multielectrode arrays. Eight electrodes recorded neural patterns that were filtered to eight speakers after being sonified by robotic and human interpretation. Sound patterns followed neural spikes and waveforms, and also extended to video, with live visualizations of the music and neural patterns in front of a mesmerized audience. See a two minute video here (still image below). Teams from two research labs designed and engineered the project; read more from collaborator Gil Weinberg.

The Potter Group of the Laboratory for Neuro-
Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology conducts research with cultured neuro-electrical interfaces, using recording and stimulation
techniques. BrainWaves is one creative expression of this work, another is the MEART Animat, or hybrot, that creates paintings with robotic arms. The Animat used rat neurons; mouse neurons for BrainWaves, and simple fish neurons in Fish and Chips (a predecessor of BrainWaves). Organic and digital meshed.

BrainWaves invokes aesthetics of sound patterns with neural patterns. MEART "the semi-living artist" is abstract in its output. What do these expressions mean? Their beauty lies in science, in the synchronized creative outlets in live, improvised performances with digital and audience interfaces generating compositions in reaction to neural activity. Then putting them online. Two, including BrainWaves, were documented in Interactive Sonification of Neural Activity, Weinberg & Thatcher, from Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. (PDF)

Potter recently published on plasticity in neuronal cultures, and earlier in the year co-authored An extremely rich repertoire of bursting patterns during the development of cortical cultures. Wagenaar, Pine, Potter; BMC Neurosci. 2006 Feb 7;7:11 (free full text).

The paper includes an open invitation. "Indeed, the range of behaviors of these cultures is so rich that this paper can only begin to describe the diverse activity patterns present in these recordings. Therefore, we invite others to join us in the study of activity patterns of networks of cortical cells in vitro. To this end, we have made the entire dataset used for this paper available on the web [email Potter for access]. Researchers may download our recordings of spike waveforms."

Imagine what sci-art expressions could develop in the research and infoviz from that.


After Life

Who is Alex Harris, Ph.D? Even he doesn't know as he awakens day after day in new realities, trying to solve the mystery of his existence.

Creatures, devices and pleasant townsfolk populate a utopia of someone's creation, he finds. His? Or one of the six copies of him? The book uses lots of tech detail in describing cyborgs, tics, robots, zombies and other transhumans. He spreads to the post-web and sets up quiet businesses, run by other copies evolved past the mind of Alex, a scientist who surely died in his own lab. He remembers volunteering for a risky and complex experiment involving consciousness uploading, zombies, AI, cyborgs. It's a digital utopia mystery with an unpredictable ending.

Written by Simon Funk, this debut novel of postcyberpunk sci-fi replete with psychological and philosophical suspense is free. Free!

Download a free PDF ebook at Lulu, read it indexed online, or order a hard copy for minimal payment.

[Disclosure: I helped out with copy editing as Simon Funk is a friend. But I'm biased because I like the story.]

eXTReMe Tracker