The Beauty of The Brain: Making Art With Its Pieces

Khryss | Published 2017-02-27 00:54
We are in the constant quest of unraveling the mysteries of human brain. This organ is as complex as the universe but who would’ve thought that it’s just as beautiful? Greg Dunn, a PhD in neuroscience, was captivated with its unique and majestic exquisiteness that he decided to paint. He had long admired the aesthetic principles in Asian Art and when he saw through the microscope the patterns of branching neurons, he knew what to do next. Adopting the sumi-e (ink wash painting) style on which one uses as few brush strokes as possible to capture the soul of the subject, he provided a great visual representation of this most enigmatic organ. See for yourself:

Cortical Columns (21K, 18K and 12K gold, ink, dye, and mica on aluminized panel)

As you can see, his early work involved minimalist compositions. And while the microscope images inspired him, he still uses his imagination to paint the neurons himself.

Basket and Pyramidals (Ink on 22K gold)

Dunn's artistry led him to experiment more thus, the creation of this blown ink around a non-absorbent paper. Notice the effect of the turbulence in the air to the ink. It just perfectly captures the treelike tangles of a neuron.

Gold Cortex II (Ink on 22K gold)

Another painting on which he utilized the ink-blowing technique. He said that "If you try to paint neurons by hand, you adhere to all kinds of unconscious rules". Just like Italian cooking, you must just get the best ingredients, and learn to control them, he said.

Cortical Circuitboard (Microetched gold on steel)

His recent work involved a technique called microetching. He creates these etchings in collaboration with his colleague Brian Edwards. Look at the effect it created!

Electron micrograph of microetching

Pushing his creativity further and further, Dunn together with the help of Edwards etch the image onto metal using a technique called photolithography (usually used to create microchips).

Brainbow Hippocampus in Blues (Microetched gold on steel)

This amazing image wouldn't be possible without the hardworks of Dunn and Edwards. The colors were created through lights and shadowboxes built around the frames of the engravings. They the controlled the angle that the light hits the image to control the colors as well.

Brainbow Hippocampus variations

See what they did there? It's the same Brainbow Hippocampus only under different lighting conditions. "You can get an infinite number of appearances, because there's no color in the surface [of the image]," Dunn said.

Glia and Blood Vessels (22K and 12K gold, dye on stainless steel)

Dunn's work also utilized other tissue types, such as glia, non-neuronal brain cells that provide support and protection for neurons.

Glial Flare (22K and 21K gold, and dye on aluminized panel)

Spinal Cord (12K gold, ink, and dye on stainless steel)

Yes, this is a slice of the spinal cord. Arresting, right?

"Art has the power to capture people's emotions and inspire awe [in a way] that a lot of charts and graphs don’t have," he said.

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!