Donders Wonders Blog

“Slices of Life” by artist Mireia Guitart in collaboration with Dr. Simon Surguladze, King’s College London, explores the links between art, autobiography, and science. This piece, which was submitted to the first Brain-Art Competition, shows how similar areas of the brain are activated in response to signals of happiness and sadness. (Source: Brain-Art Competition 2011)

Express yourself—take part in Brain Art

Art seizes our imaginations. The brain makes us who we are. Show your love for both phenomena by submitting to OHBM’s 2019 Brain-Art Competition!

This post is also available in Dutch.

What is the Brain-Art Competition?

Over half a millennium ago, Leonardo da Vinci created one of the first anatomical sketches of the human skull and brain. Like countless others in generations that followed him, da Vinci ventured to understand the intricately fascinating work of art that is the brain. Nowadays, neuroscientists constantly wrestle with the same extraordinary ball of neurons, ever endeavoring to capture the brain’s activity through a multitude of methods. Many of these brain imagers convene at the annual international meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) which will be held this June in Rome, Italy.

In collaboration with the NeuroBureau, OHBM hosted its first Brain-Art Competition in 2011. Each year since then, all artists—both scientists and non-scientists alike—have been invited to participate in the competition by submitting art pieces to specific categories, including the Human Connectome, video illustration, and abstract and humorous brain representations. One or two special categories are additionally awarded each year, reflecting trendy topics in the field of neuroimaging. Here are some examples from past exhibits:

“Maybe Raspberry Ice Cream” (2015)
Submission by Hilary Toulmin, King’s College London
An 8-year-old’s animation to introduce other 8-year-olds to MRI scanning using Playmobil people and a 3-D printed mini MRI scanner.

View all of the Brain-Art submissions from previous years:

2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

The first Brain-Art exhibition, “Crossing Fibers: A Neuroretrospectroscopic View”, was proposed at OHBM 2015 in Honolulu, Hawaii and displayed later that year in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany. These exhibits featured the best submissions from the Brain-Art Competition and, to financially support the initiative, posters were subsequently made available for purchase. Brain-Art submissions and exhibitions have continuously featured pieces from artists all over the world. Last year’s exhibit in Singapore showcased the work of local artist Shubigi Rao who, inspired by her knowledge of neuroscience, captivated conference attendees with her mesmerizing representations of creatures with complex nervous systems.

The art exhibition at the 2018 OHBM meeting featured the work of Singapore-based artist Shubigi Rao. (Source: A Tree, A Treatise 2018)

Join this year’s competition

The Brain-Art Special-Interest-Group, one of the many committees within OHBM, has just opened up the 2019 Brain-Art Competition and is currently organizing the OHBM 2019 exhibit. This year’s edition forgoes the previous thematically focused categories of the past and instead emphasizes different modalities of art. The exhibit will go further than purely visual arts and will include dedicated categories for text and live performances.

Here are the categories:

  • Erato: 2D: i.e., digital images such as drawings, photos, paintings
  • Clio: 3D: i.e., sculptures and installations.
  • Calliope: 1D: i.e., short texts (10,000 characters maximum) as short fiction or poetry.
  • Terpsichore: real-time performance: i.e., any performative act (e.g. singing, dancing, live sketching, etc…).
  • Melpomene: failed attempt / bug / artifact

You can submit your art piece/illustration/representation until 11:59PM CDT, Wednesday, May 29th, 2019. There is no limit to the number of submissions per person.

For more information about the competition, rules, FAQ, etc:

Stay up-to-date with Brain-Art on Twitter: @OHBM_BrainArt

Original language: English
Authors: Christienne Gonzales Damatac and Roselyne Chauvin
Editor: Monica Wagner
Translator: Jill Naaijen
Editor Translation: Rowena Emaus

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