Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

SSNHL is the rapid onset of hearing loss over a period of 72 hours; caused by an abnormality of the cochlea. In 85-95% of cases the cause is unknown. Our ability to hear sounds of different pitches relies on the cochlea, a hollow bone shaped similar to a sea shell. It has tiny hairs all along the tapering tube that are tuned according to where they are positioned.

Our ears function as a pair; so what happens when one ear doesn’t function properly? This is what happened to me in February and now 2 months on I am adjusting to that loss and to wearing a hearing aid in my right ear. Alongside the loss of hearing is constant tinnitus and balance issues.

Processing sound signals and sending them to the brain is a complex business. For me drawing has always been a means of understanding and knowledge and as my work is concerned with the body and its inside/ outside spaces, the inner ear has contributed to my understanding of my perception, embodiment and synthesis of these spaces.

The Cochlea is very much a spiral form and due to its size and complexity scientists are unable to see directly inside. It is the most challenging tissue to study in the entire body. All of your inner hair cells can occupy the tip of a pin, yet they are responsible for every single sound you hear; around 100,000 different sound modalities.

Understanding the process

My interest and knowledge in approaches to studying the brain has been helped by lectures through The Blue Brain Project. There are five types of neuroscience:

Experimental, theoretical, computational, applied and lastly simulation neuroscience. The last category, simulation neuroscience unifies both experimental and theoretical approaches. Every detail of the brain is considered, nothing is left out; all data is taken into account.

There are many organisations and individuals who research the brain, on an industrial scale there are the Allen Institute, Human Connectome Project, Human Brain Project and 200,000 individual researchers.

There are a billion molecules in a cell and thousands of molecular pathways, millions of molecular interactions per second in a cell! There are 2,000 cell types, 900 brain regions and the human brain has a thousand trillion synapses and 100 billion neurons.

Scientists map these to understand how these all interact together to give rise to emergent behaviour , psycho physical properties, cognition and behavioural repertoire. There are in total 600 different brain diseases.

How do scientists gain a complete picture? By establishing the strategy of how pieces fit together. Algorithms both random and organised are reconstructed, the smallest component first.

There are different types of neurons that all connect differently, axons connect the neurons and touch every neuron and puts out lots of synapses.

Multidisciplinary approaches to data interests me, how can an artist contribute?

The scientists Santiago Ramon y Cajal was also an artist who drew nerve cells and made comparisons with trees. Y Cajal was a visionary who saw that signals run through the bodies anatomy. Seeing the axon as the output signal and dendrites as the receiver or input. The neuron is a sophisticated branching structure that generates electrical signals, a unique type of electrical devise.

These electrical patterns of flowing signals are simulated in the Blue Brain Project, and the question “why do the neurons generate electrical activity ?”is asked. Electrical footprints of a neuron are studied and modelled. The complexity of the processes involved are being realised and the process of synaptic transmission in terms of a current being measured in relation to Serotonin and Dopamine which create happiness and motivation and histamine which creates wakefulness. This has led scientists to research depression and alterations of neurocircuits in different regions of the brain. There are now therapies involving these states that have used multimodal neuroimaging data.

As an artist, creativity and the brain fascinates me alongside perception, consciousness and learning. How the brain works and sometimes doesn’t concerns my own practice too. Understanding my own processes of creating my own practice. Why do I create art? How when I am creating do I feel differently?

Understanding these processes takes time and having the self belief to keep practising when we doubt we are good enough is all part of this creative process of making art.

The Blue Brain

My art practice is concerned with exploring boundaries between the internal and external self; particularly in relation to the unconscious mind and the production of art.

The invisible processes of our bodies as a complex network of flow production and flow interruptions fascinates me. This has led me to researching our brains and the discovery of The Blue Brain which is a Swiss national brain initiative, that aims to create a digital reconstruction of the brain. Founded in 2005 by the Brain and Mind Institute of the Ecole Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The images produced by The Blue Brain cell atlas are like hand drawn maps.

I have been working with some of these computer generated images of the neurons of the brain onto perspex.  What interests me is how the brains microcircuits can cause psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. Scientists are now able to study how individual neurons behave electronically.


(Re) finding and (re) situating.


Psychoanalysis and phenomenology focus on the body as it is experienced, whereas the inscriptive model is more concerned with the process by which the subject is marked , scarred, transformed and written upon or constructed by the various regimes of institutional and discursive powers.

Our bodies are storehouses of inscriptions and messages between our internal and external boundaries. Medical processes of removal and addition as well as cultural signs on the surface of body such as clothing, make up and living spaces all mark our bodies. These become like coded signs, often of a social nature.

How do these thought contribute to my practice? I have been incorporating geometric forms to curved aspects of the bodies internal organs. Attempting to analyse the bodies boundaries in terms of its boundaries and zones to show how each system is in a perpetual motion and interrelation with the other. Looking for signs, codes and synchronicity in the outside world with our internal states fascinates me.


Bodily Matters

IMG_9322.JPGI have not written in my blog since completing my MA which is now six months ago. I write in sketch books all the time and realise that by publishing my thoughts to a wider audience the context of what I do changes.

I hope to continue studying Art at PHD level and am currently formulating my research ideas. How are our bodies Liminal spaces?  A transitional place or territory?

Deleuze’s notion of the body as something beyond categorisations whose boundaries and organs are open and mutable interests me.These boundaries have moments of detteritorialization and flow, acceleration and rupture.

In my practical work since my MA I have begun using imagery from old medical books . The cutting out and changing of these medical illustrations has given my work a self made structure. Using fine medical tubing I have stitched through the paper  giving a sense of flow to the work. The medical world with it’s interventions of man made materials interests me. The edges of materials and the way they meet create spatial metaphors that are sometimes not immediately apparent. The fragility of these boundaries between inside and outside continues to represent a kind of hinge between a lived interior and the outer surface of our bodies.


Installing work

This week has been installing the MA show which means the MA cohort met in person for the first time. The work is all now in place and as a group we are all going to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

It has been an intense and rewarding few days where the display of my work has changed several times. Originally I planned to hang my work in folds; this worked well but the sculptural work needed to tie into the drawing more. On the last day of installing a new tutor came he came with fresh eyes. We discussed the importance of the drawers that I originally wanted to use. The tutor suggested removing their handles and to sand down the surface. The board underneath the drawing was lifted for the drawer to poke out from with the sculpture in it.Finally the drawing fell down when the tutor pulled it falling in a way which seemed to work ! I was unsure whether to leave it but felt it was more reflective of the ambiguou folding of the body that I had been exploring.



Reflecting on where I am before setting up the exhibition in Barnsley I feel I have learnt a lot about myself and how I work as an artist. Researching the Liminal spaces of the body in relation to Art and medecine is an area that is in constant change and flux and an I hope to clarify my focus over the summer by writing a PHD proposal . Reading university has agreed to help me put together a suitable proposal to work in conjunction with a joint supervised PHD with the Tate. I am excited at this prospect and I feel this is the right way forward for me. Research in relation to my chosen area will allow me the time and space to develop and nurture my practice.