Rat Neurons, MEA, Robotics, internet and pen on paper
- Guy Ben-Ary – Australia
- Philip Gamblen – Australia
- Peter Gee – Australia
- Nathan Scott – Australia
- Brett Nurray – Australia
Steve Potter Lab
- Steve Potter – USA
- Riley Zeller-Townson – USA
- Douglas Swehla – USA
- Stephen Bobic – USA
One of the very few real art and science works – in that it is both artistically meaningful and scientifically valid, Silent Barrage investigates the nature of thoughts, free will, and neural dysfunction. The work focuses at the bursts of uncontrolled activity of nerve tissue, a typical characteristic of epilepsy and cultured nerve cells. Silent Barrage uses audience movements in, and responses to the architectural space of amplified neuronal activity to feed it back to the cultured nerve cells in an attempt to silence the barrage of electrical impulses.
From an artistic perspective Silent Barrage provides an immersive and somewhat overwhelming sensorial manifestation of questions that are in the core of our understanding of the stuff that make us think. Using the presumption of free will of the audience, who chart their own path through the space, this work draws real and imaginary parallels between the person and nerve cell.
Each pole in the arrangement represents a region in the culture dish, and the movements of the individual robots correspond to the level of activity in the area. The robots markings on the poles hint to the continuous neuronal activity, conjuring traces of “memories” of past actions. The movement of audience in the Silent Barrage’s space is used to stimulate the culture. The nerve cells are out of context, removed from the brain they once belong to, they are cultured in an artificial environment, trying to make connections with the cells around them.
Zeurotica is a collective of artists (Philip Gamblen and Guy Ben-Ary), engineers (Peter Gee and Dr. Nathan Scott) and music technologists (Brett Murray). Neurotica’s research focuses on the interaction and relationships of Neuroscience, robotics and art. The collective has strong collaboration links to Dr. Steve Potter and his lab and together they are exploring novel embodiment strategies to neurons in vitro. Neurotica’s part in this research is to develop and create robotics bodies that would interact with the biological networks that are grown in the Potter Lab.
The Potter lab is one of nine research groups in the Laboratory for Neuroengineering in Georgia tech. They are developing new neuroscience technologies for studying learning and memory in vitro. Mammalian brain cells are grown in culture on multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) to form a long-term, two-way interface between the cultured networks and a computer. The cultured networks can serve as the ‘brain’ of simulated animats or robotic creatures. By re-embodying cultured networks, the group allows them to express behaviors and, hopefully, to learn via interactions with their environment.