GYA launches Science + Arts Work Group

GYA launches Science + Arts Work Group
In the spirit of interdisciplinarity reaching beyond academia, a new work group is formed within GYA, dedicated to collaborations between science and arts, with hopes that it will positively contribute to the peace and mutual understanding within the human family and lead to innovative projects. While using different tools, arts and sciences share the lust for the unknown, and therefore their union is expected to spark with hope in times we feel stuck, saturated, overspecialized, and separated.

What does thinking sound like? This month an international team of world-leading young scientists and music artists will join to explore on Saturday 13th August, during the Edinburgh festivals season in a live and interactive world premiere neuroscience and music event: The Well-Tempered Brain.

Neurons in the human brain fire constantly, creating electric pulses to interact with each other. This electric data can be recorded as an array of Big Data, which can then be turned into sound by experimental musicians. Crew member Harry Whalley, an award-winning composer, has previously used EEG sensors to make music, and now Dr Paul Roach (University of Keele, and alumnus of the NESTA Crucible programme for interdisciplinary innovation) has developed a micro device “brain-on-chip” in the lab to capture live and simultaneously the data from 64 neurons from various parts of the brain. At The Well-Tempered Brain event, this data will be turned into sound and explored. A team of high-flying young scientists from the Global Youth Academy (Sasha Kagansky, Srinjoy Mitra, Borys Wrobel, and Bart Kolodziejczyk, the international fellowship of scientists for social good), and a team of prominent musicians and DJs from ArtSci Nexus collective (Mark Mathes, Anton Koch, and Sergey Kostyrko) and many more talented enthusiasts come to Edinburgh from Russia, Croatia, Germany, Poland, and UK, with expertise spanning microchips, cell biology, computer science, bioinformatics, neurobiology, biomaterials, nanofluids, philosophy, classical music, jazz, house music, funk, visual art, and film, to experiment together LIVE to transform the neurons’ data into a music symphony.

The collaboration will also explore the ways the outputs from “everyday” EEG devices in our ordinary lives, such as Muse headband, that connects to a smartphone, can be converted into sound, and what this shows us about our brains. If a person is listening to a piece of music, and their brain patterns (EEG) were converted into sound, would it form similar tunes? Would it have any melody at all? Or would it turn out to be something completely new?

The Well-Tempered Brain event will mark the launch of the GYA’s Art+Science working group at the Edinburgh’s dedicated Artiscience Library space of Summerhall Gallery in the city center during the world’s biggest Arts festival this August.

Dr Sasha Kagansky, who has gathered everyone for this experiment, says: “It’s important for interdisciplinarity to reach beyond academia, and that’s why GYA formed a new work group dedicated to collaborations between science and arts, with hopes that it will positively contribute to the peace and mutual understanding within the human family and to innovative projects.”

Dr Paul Roach says: “This fusion approach could lead to new directions in scientific understanding of brain mechanisms, as well as to new directions in music”

Dr Milly Zimeta, writer and philosopher participating in the project says: “Music is said to be the language of the emotions; being able to turn pure thought patterns into sound patterns has the potential to reveal harmonies we never imagined and didn’t know we were making.”

Sasha, Paul and Milly met each other in 2009 during Crucible Think-Tanks organized by NESTA (http://www.nesta.org.uk), and ever since are involved in the interdisciplinary projects around the world.

Candace Goodrich who curates ArtSci Nexus believes that the key to success is an equal contribution from each field in the creative process, while additional benefit is educating its members and public in regards to contemporary culture and science.

Colin Sanderson, Director of the Artiscience Library, says: ‘In harmony with the founding principles of the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, this project brings together an international group in a collaborative endeavour. It is impossible to predict what music or sonic art shall issue from this artiscient project; yet this only raises my sense of excited anticipation.

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