Charlie Murphy + Robin Bussell, Spontaneous Synapse, 2019 – (ongoing)
Dimensions variable, (Cooper Gallery Installation 400 x 400 x 250 cm )
Reformed glass burettes, tubing & stopcocks, aluminium scaffold, 3D printed brackets, retort stands, lab clamps, tourniquet tape, robotic lasers, 3D printed brackets, magic arms, cheese plates.
This installation uses refractive properties of reformed scientific glassware to create a dramatic reimagining of neuronal (brain cell) activities. Robotic lasers are programmed to trace light pathways across a forest of glass neurons creating, which create elaborate caustic patterns of light highly evocative of the electric pulses of energy passing across networks of braincells.
Educational tools, engagement and outreach
Since its first presentation ( The Lowry as part of The State of Us exhibition 2019-20) we have adapted the laserbots to allow a wide range of participants to interact with this artwork.
We now run sessions offering opportunities for participants programme the lasers as an expressive and interactive form of engagement and co-creativity.
This approach was devised through collaborations between artist Charlie Murphy, engineer Robin Bussell, scientists Dr Leigh Wilson, Professor Richard Wingate, PhD students Sally Horton and Sara Ratti of the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at King’s College London, and language and learning specialist, Jo Wood of Sunnydown School.
The Sunnydown Synaptic programme introduced students to brain science and brain cell anatomy, learning about the structures and connections of brain cells through an innovative range of physical games, movements, collaging, electronics and laser programming. Sunnydown students also contributed creative laser pathways to the Synaptic installation in the roofspace of the Old Herb Garrett at The Old Operating Theatre (London).
The Sunnydown Synaptic was designed to capture the unique perspectives and experiences of students with communication and interaction needs through their own exploration of brain anatomy, cell connections and circuitry using sculpture, movement, collage, robotics and lasers.
This project forged valuable exchanges between science, art, engineering and young students and its significant impact highlights the relevance of creative engagement and its importance in understanding and refining the stories that explain and clarify research into Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
You can see a film of this project here
Sunnydown Synaptic convincingly demonstrates how science and art interactions can act as compelling and effective vehicles for students to express opinions, feelings and reflections about their own experiences and current research into brain development and neurodiversity.
The Sunnydown Synaptic installation The Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garrett (London) was presented at Mediculture Festival and kindly supported by Kings’ Small Public Engagement grant, the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Team London Bridge, SC1, Sunnydown School, The Artists Agency & Chemglassware Ltd.