Yesterday we were invited to preview Brains: The mind as matter at Wellcome Collection in London – a fascinating new exhibition that explores the most complex and beguiling of human organs.
Focusing on brain matter, rather than the mind, Brains features all manner of objects and artworks, from preserved brains in jars (Albert Einstein and philosopher Charles Babbage’s brain specimens no less), to historical artifacts dating back to the 16th century, asking ‘not what brains do for us, but what we have done to brains’.
The space is broken down into four main sections – Measuring / Classifying looks at phrenology and anthropometry and the tools used to understand these diciplines, while Mapping / Modeling presents the historical and modern artistic renderings of all things cranial. Cutting / Treating is a look at medical interventions and the ethical implications of brain dissection and manipulation, finishing with the final section Giving / Taking, which offers a ‘behind the scenes glimpse into the brain’s life after death’, with poignant artwork on brain donation by Ania Dabrowska, and fascinating videos of modern day, scientific research and preservation in brain banks.
To accompany the exhibition, Wellcome has teamed up with BAFTA–winning games studio, Preloaded to create Axon, an online, brain-powered game that enables users to explore the anatomy of a fetal brain and be challenged to grow neurons and assist with brain development.
Brains as matter is running until June 17, 2012, a must-see for anyone interested in the evolution of understanding this mysterious, human matter. – Samantha Fox
Scroll down for more images from the exhibition.