The brain. Colour giclée prints by S. Aldworth, 2011.
- Aldworth, Susan, 1955-
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This is a set of 20 prints based on fMRI scans of the brain (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Brain scans are designed to reveal what is going on in the brain. However they only show anatomy and physiology. The "functions" which they show are functions of the structures, rather than functions of the person. The artist wondered "What do they show of the identity of the human being?". Her answer is to enrich the scans with aspects of life which are absent from them
Her first attempt to render this theme took the form of a collage the same size as a brain scan (44 x 35 cm.) called Cogito ergo sum 1. The suggestion was made that the serial nature of brain scans made them suitable for a set of works: MRI scans that show the imagination at work. The subject was too intricate for silkscreen printing, and the decision was made to use digital printing, with the aid of Christopher Gibbs as digital master printer.
The brain scans were made at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/About/ ). They were offering research brain scans for £10 and a mug!. The artist undertook to have one. The people being scanned had to lie in the noisy machine and were asked to reply in whispers to questions, for instance about the difference between natural and artificial objects such as a carrot and a fork. The scans were supplied to Susan on disk and on film by Dr Andrea Mechelli
The artist took the films which had photographic emulsion on one side, and worked in the emulsion with a scalpel, then rescanned the worked films at 2,100 dpi. The scans were reworked with colour using Photoshop brushes, including brushes created for the purpose. They were then printed on a digital printer using seven colour inks. The files for each print take 20 minutes to load as they are large digital files took to load on the screen
Views of the brain that are similar to MRI brain scans but have been manipulated by printmaking techniques to insert aspects of human personality that are considered to be not detectable by scientific and technological methods. They can be seen as visual expressions of scepticism about "neuromania", the exaggerated identification of neurological causes of mental and emotional activity, as discussed in e.g. Alva Noë, Out of our heads: why you are not your brain, and other lessons from the biology of consciousness (New York 2009); and Raymond Tallis, Aping mankind: neuromania, Darwinitis and the misrepresentation of humanity (Durham, 2011)