FEATURES – SciArt Center’s EmBodied Virtual Exhibition

In ALL, FEATURES by Cat Lau

I am thrilled to share my review of a beautiful virtual exhibit titled EmBodied by SciArt Center curator, Marnie Benney. This exhibition attempts to address the big questions of our existence. To discover who we are, we must venture into our surroundings and place ourselves under the microscope. Our bodies are still a space of uncharted discoveries with unanswered scientific questions, from the complexity of the brain to the diseases we succumb to. 

“We conceptualize, pontificate, and dream about what our physical form means. By exploring everything from our bones, gross anatomy, physiology, microbiology, neurobiology, evolution, genomes, and more, how do we begin to understand ourselves in new ways? What do our bodies tell us about who we are?” – Marnie Benney

This virtual exhibition features diverse works that stand out independently, while remaining connected to the underlying theme. Here are some of my favourites:

“‘Cc:me’ is a mixed media installation of drawings and live bacteria. The body becomes a site for the infectious nature of language – nuanced, messaged, poetic, copied.”

Whittaker never ceases to amaze me with her ability to tell a story using bacteria. Her use of carbon copy as a means of communication in tandem with bacteria provides a unique perspective of our past and present.

Emerge

Emerge

Cc:me

Cc:me

“I am especially fascinated by the human brain – our complex machine – which can fathom the beginning of time and the nature of its own thought. However, even after centuries of study, scientists are only now starting to chart the mysterious biological map of that thought.”

Crick’s use of conventional (topographical) maps in conjunction with Brodmann’s area of the cerebral cortex presents an interesting layout of the brain. Her work represents the ever changing field of neuroscience through a contrast between concrete textbook diagrams and elusive backgrounds and fills.

Brodmann's Map

Brodmann’s Map

Hindsight

Hindsight

Brodmann's Wilderness - Mt. Hood

Brodmann’s Wilderness – Mt. Hood

“These images are concerned with the physicality of movement, and the subtleties of human anatomy, neurology, and intent which control it. Kinesthetic empathy plays a part making images from the periphery of dance which are about perceived boundaries of both sensation and effort.”

Smart’s piece is multilayered and carefully places different components together. His use of waves and eyes direct us in one swift motion to the right. His work provides a sense of movement, which can be a challenge to capture in a still image.

Eyes Open

Eyes Open

“Our bodies and the body of the universe – the same complex patterns appear in both. The order found in these patterns contrasted with the random and unfinished state of all living organisms provides a dynamic equilibrium that fascinates me.”

Safren’s use of metal and oxide films to generate unexpected hues strike an uncanny resemblance to our flesh and tissues. Her pieces expand the capabilities of metal as an artistic medium by producing colours and textures that connect us with the human form.

Ovum

Ovum

Follicles

Follicles

“I am interested in re-defining our relationship to ancient materials, in the context of the current environmental situation. My installations are landscapes of light, protein, and DNA, alongside synthetic polymers.”

Ginn’s use of synthetic and organic fibers reflect an important question of how our natural biology will change with the continuation of technological enhancements and biological discoveries. With gene-editing tools, such as CRISPR-Cas9 already in place, we are left to wonder what it truly means to be human.

Synaptic Kiss

Synaptic Kiss

Plastic Gene 4

Plastic Gene 4

This exhibition invokes a visceral connection to humanity through different colours, textures, and carefully thought-out positioning. Each artist brings to light important aspects of our biology, primarily ones that are difficult to see with the naked eye.  In doing so, they provide a unconventional perspective which provokes this sense of wonder and begs the question: what does it mean to be human?

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