Author Archives: blacmount

A higher level

After building and loading our brain, we decided to place it at a higher level, just above our heads.

And there it rests now, fully fed, waiting for the moment we’ll turn it on.

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We Were Here!

Almost saying goodbye.

Our artistic residency at CNC will end this month and we’re already missing the neighbourhood. Such a great time we had accompanying the daily routine of this research institute. We’ve met interesting people, interesting work and points of view, different perspectives about life. We even felt being part of the routine and that was pretty cool, we felt at home.

MARIONET will be 10 years old next October and never had a physical home to this day. CNC was our home for the past 7 months and really felt like that. It was the right environment for the type of work we’ve been developing this last years, with a very close connection to science. This made us think (well, in fact we’ve thought this before) that it would really be fruitful for us to have our company’s premises in a research institute. And, of course, the institute would also collect its fruits. Well, who knows what the future will tell.

For the time being we leave here this map of where we’ve lived for the past few months – right there, between the yellow and the green, we’ve created a yellow cell. An artistic one.

This is what we could see from our window:

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AVC [additional video capturing]

Following our brief but intense brainstorming period, we decided we needed some extra video recordings from daily lab routines to prepare what we intended to do next.

So we started a new series of visits to some experiments going on in the various labs of CNC, and Rodrigo gave us two hands and two eyes with his video camera, his experience and his sensibility concerning video capturing and editing.

Like cells in a petri dish kept at a convenient temperature, the materials we gather from this residency are proliferating at a good rate. Let’s see how we’ll use the superspheres they’re forming.

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We’re growing a brain – part II

After the scientific paper structure was all mounted up, we started to coat it with two inner layers, one made of extractor fan filter, the other made of that plastic transparent sheet we use in the kitchen to cover food and etc. The result was quite interesting, for this two layers gave the brain an irregular translucent appearance, and the yellow scientific papers seen through this dimming surfaces felt just like forming circunvolutions. This really added a more complex appearance to our brain.

Finally, we wrapped all this inside a metallic net coating for a harder look and touch.

Next step: fill up the brain.

We inserted, during its assembly, several pen drives in specific areas of the brain – hippocampus, frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe and cerebellum. We then filled this areas of the brain with video materials we’ve been collecting during our whole residency. When doing this, we tried to establish some relations between the images inserted in a specific area and the functions that area of the brain is known to have in its general activity.

In a way, we uploaded to this brain the history of our residency and the life we witnessed at the research centre during our 7 months stay.

And here it is, our shiny metallic brain with its core of scientific articles from CNC research groups and filled with the memory of our residency.

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Brainstorming

Considering we are building a brain, why not add some storm to it? Just like Dr. Frankenstein did when he captured the energy of a lightning bolt during a storm to give life to his creature.

In a month and a half we’ll be leaving this premises and we would like to leave them in style. For the past few days we’ve been reflecting an discussing our stay here and all of the information and experience we gathered, and we started to make plans for the future.

Firstly, for the near future, we started thinking about a performance we’ll create to signal our departure and the end of this residency. Next, for the long-term future and considering the knowledge about life in the lab we now have, we started thinking about the materials we would still like to collect to help us create future works on this particular subject.
And in this brainstorming process we ended up discovering some unsuspected links between the different stuff things are made of.


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We’re growing a brain – part I

For about a month now, we’ve been reusing the rumpled yellow papers that were left from The Review Game. We thought: here we have a bunch of papers with scientific information about neuroscience which have a history; they’ve been read, rumpled, cited, paddled over a table by researchers, they were fun to use and interesting to comment on. We felt they had the potential to build something. And so we started to build a brain out of them.

We began to bind one paper to the other and the other and the other, and the different parts of a human brain started to grow. We used some models to get the hang of it.

Then, we bound the different brain parts to form the whole brain. This is, off course, a special brain – it’s a brain built on scientific papers from CNC research groups, who spend their days trying to understand how the human brain works. In a way, they are trying to build the human brain through the knowledge they get from very specific experiments. Just like we did. This brain captures a part of our experience and experiments here at CNC, it’s built with it.

One interesting thing we decided to do was give this brain the same weight of a real human brain (in average, of course). Our brain weights approx. 1.4Kg.

Note – this brain is made up of the following scientific articles:
– Agasse F, Bernardino L, Kristiansen H, Christiansen SH, Ferreira R, Silva B, Grade S, Woldbye DPD, Malva JO (2008). Neuropeptide Y Promotes Neurogenesis in Murine Subventricular Zone. Stem Cells 26:1636-1645.
– Álvaro AR, Martins J, Costa AC, Fernandes E, Carvalho F, Ambrósio AF and Cavadas C. Neuropeptide Y Protects Retinal Neural Cells Against Cell Death Induced by Ecstasy (2008). Neuroscience 152:97-105.
– Álvaro AR, Rosmaninho-Salgado J, Ambrósio AF, Cavadas C (2009). Neuropeptide Y Inhibits [Ca2+]i Changes in Rat Retinal Neurons through NPY Y1, Y4 and Y5 Receptors. J Neurochemistry 109:1508-1515.
– Arduíno DM, Esteves AR, Oliveira CR, Cardoso SM (2010). Mitochondrial Metabolism Modulation: A New Therapeutic Approach for Parkinson’s Disease. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets 9(1):1-15.
– Bernardino L, Agasse F, Silva B, Ferreira R, Grade S, Malva JO (2008).Tumor Necrosis Factor-a Modulates Survival, Proliferation, and Neuronal Differentiation in Neonatal Subventricular Zone Cell Cultures. Stem Cells 26:2361-2371.
– Bernardino L, Xapelli S, Silva AP, Jakobsen B, Poulsen FR, Oliveira CR, Vezzani A, Malva JO, Zimmer J (2005). Modulator Effects of Interleukin-1b and Tumor Necrosis Factor-a on AMPA-Induced Excitotoxicity in Mouse Organotypic Hippocampal Slice Cultures. J Neuroscience 25(29):6734-6744.
– Cavadas C, Céfai D, Rosmaninho-Salgado J, Vieira-Coelho MA, Moura E, Busso N, Pedrazzini T, Grand D, Rotman S, Waeber B, Aubert J-F, Grouzmann E (2006). Deletion of the Neuropeptide Y (NPY) Y1 Receptor Gene Reveals a Regulatory Role of NPY on Catecholamine Synthesis and Secretion. PNAS 27:10497-10502.
– Esteves AR, Arduíno DM, Swerdlow RH, Oliveira CR, Cardoso SM (2009). Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 11(3):1-10.
– Esteves AR, Arduíno DM, Swerdlow RH, Oliveira CR, Cardoso SM (2010). Microtubule Depolymerization Potentiates Alpha-synuclein Oligomerization. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 1(5):1-6.
– Pinheiro PS, Perrais D, Coussen F, Barhanin J, Bettler B, Mann JR, Malva JO, Heinemann SF, Mulle C (2007). GluR7 is an Essential Subunit of Presynaptic Kainate Autoreceptors at Hippocampal Mossy Fiber Synapses. PNAS 29:12181-12186.
– Silva AP, Cavadas C, Grouzmann E (2002). Neuropeptide Y and its Receptors as Potential Therapeutic Drug Targets. Clin Ch Acta 326:3-25.
– Silva AP, Lourenço J, Xapelli S, Ferreira R, Kristiansen H, Woldbye DPD, Oliveira CR, Malva JO (2007). Protein Kinase C Activity Blocks Neuropeptide Y-mediated Inhibition of Glutamate Release and Contributes to Excitability of the Hippocampus in Status Epilepticus. FASEB J 21:671-681.

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ODC V – the written trailer

In previous ODCs we had the artists in residency presenting some of their previous work, we heard that work through the voices of CNC researchers and we had researchers presenting discussion subjects they found interesting to share.

In yesterday’s ODC we had two presentations: one (“A small step”) from a researcher, Raquel, who outlined her path since she was born to this moment when she’s about to defend her PhD Thesis; the other (“The big leap”) from one of the artists, Alexandre, who talked about one of his favourite works of art, the “Saut dans le vide” from Yves Klein.

It was very interesting for me to establish connections between the two universes described by them, one scientific, the other artistic. At a given time Alexandre stated that one of the things that made Klein so special was the fact of him being an artist without context, of difficult catalogation at the time given the innovating charateristics of his work. In my mind I associated this idea to the previous discussion we had about Raquel’s presentation when we spoke about different types of research work: on one hand the kind of work a researcher does when he/she starts working already existing data on a previously defined direction (defined, for instance, by the research group you’re in); on the other hand the work when you start a given research from scratch. I associated (in a very losely manner) this latter type of work to the possibly innovating characteristics of an artwork.

Another association my brain did was when we talked about the importance for the value of an artwork of being unique. This came to discussion after Alexandre mentioned there were several versions of that photomontage from Klein. This made me think about the importance of priority in science – being the first to publish on a given subject. Teresa also added the possibility (more like a fact, sometimes) of the same scientific paper being published twice (in different magazines). Which is not a very nice thing to do, they say.

Scientific researchers are commonly valued by the number of papers they publish, most specially when they are the first author. And in the art world? Are you valued by the number of works of art you create?

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