Records of Translation i ()Devon Ward
1.5m x 1m
‘Record of Translation i’ is a video about the search for meaning amongst a deluge of data. New biotechnologies record unprecedented levels of data about the brain, offering the ability to record communications between individual neurons. However, this increase in data does not necessarily lead to new understanding. Through a process of databending this video installation explores the idea of information overload and uses data collected from scientific experiments to corrupt a microscopic video of living neurons. It attempts to overload the senses with neural codes and reveal the paralysing capacity of too much data.
This video was made using data collected from neuron signaling (action potentials) that was collected by the students from the Experimental and Regenerative Neurology (EaRN) laboratory at the University of Western Australia. An estimated 150,000 foetal rat neurons were placed on a petridish that ‘read’ the action potentials from clusters of neurons. This data was then collected and manipulated within a computer.
By obscuring the neurons through intentional glitching, the video engages in a critical dialogue about the multiple levels of biomediation that occur to generate new knowledge about neurons. In order to create this video, rat neurons were cultured on a microelectrode array (MEA) in a laboratory at the University of Western Australia and then imaged for 12-hours with an inverted microscope. The MEA recorded the action potentials elicited by the rat neurons. The data from the MEA was injected into each frame of the time-lapse video through a process of automated databending. The result is a digital conflation where the video of the neurons is obscured by the records of their activity.
This project was created as part of the solo exhibition by Devon Ward titled ‘Nerves in Patterns on a Screen’ and included computer installations, digital displays, an artbook and preserved neuronal rat tissue. The overarching theme of the show explored the epistemic limits of fully understanding neuronal tissue. The exhibition took place at the Paper Mountain gallery throughout the month of July, 2014 in Perth, AU.