Design of the 'platform' to be used, adapted by the artists involved in the project, towards 'Change my Mind', exhibited th e Science Gallery Bengaluru, at https://psyche.scigalleryblr.org/exhibits

Images from working process

Psyche, Science Gallery Bengaluru

The bellow six images are of the final works exhibited on the Psyche: Science Gallery Bengaluru website.

Psyche,   Science Gallery, Bengaluru,      runs 1st April to the 10th June 2022

I am currently in the process of making work for the exhibition Psyche, which will take place at the Science Gallery Bengaluru starting on the 1st April 2022.

Introduction to the exhibition

Why do we think? Why do we dream? Why are we emotional beings? Is intelligence and the ability to think and feel restricted to humans? 

Researchers have grappled with the inner workings of the human mind – from mapping billions of neurons to trying to understand the intangible expressions of thought and consciousness. We have experimented on the human brain with drugs, hypnosis, genetic techniques and more. The mind plays its own tricks through optical illusions, déjà vu, delusions and hallucinations. Combined with the imagination and hormones these manifest in intriguing behaviours. 

Neuroscientists, chemists, doctors, psychologists, philosophers, mathematicians, systems analysts - each take us a few steps closer to unravelling the enigma of the psyche. It is worth noting that much of laboratory research to understand the human mind, in fact, is carried out on other living beings who exhibit degrees of decision making, planning and emotion. 

The mind is inextricably implicated in our perception of the world and our experience of it. Our actions, informed by this perception, continue to shape the world. Our thoughts and emotions likely create a sense of wellbeing or a lack of it, yet we do not fully understand the biological or psychological or social underpinnings of our intellectual being. 

The future of the mind could be stranger than fiction – weaponizing of emotions, extra sensory perception, prediction of criminal behaviours or the wiping out of traumatic memories – nothing, it seems, is impossible. Even machines need not be exempt – as we continue to replicate the human mind in-silico – from thinking or experiencing emotions in a manner similar to humans. 

The images bellow show screen shots of the early designs of the work.

ANDREW CARNIE PSYCHE POSTER 2022.png

Well, making work for Change my Mind proved quite difficult. I designed the template for everyone else to work with and expand their ideas on and then had to undertake the process myself. It was not as easy as I imagined. Not because making work is hard, but actually when you think about changing your mind, what would you actually want to change.

 

I thought really hard about how I would change my mind, what would I want to change. I am healthy and don’t feel I have any particularly debilitating defects I need to compensate for. I do forget some things and would like to remember more. But, generally my mind/brain is an incredible mechanism that has given me a creative career, and much of the artwork that I have completed over the years I am happy with; it has pushed beyond my expectations

 

I find it troubling that having a possible brain implant might 'mess up' what I have, and I know from projects I have been working on that one of the issues with even basic devices that are being trialled presently is the issue of interference between signals going into the brain and those coming out.

 

So, aside from an improvement in memory I was a little stumped. Further in anything that was 'added' to the complex system of the brain I feel it would have to be of an 'organic' nature compatible with the brain, wet biology i.e., something that connected and worked biologically, with and not against the brain. I aware the body has a real capacity for ‘digesting’ anything alien that resides within it; separating implants, encapsulating them in a fool proof manner is almost impossible.

 

What I concluded was that what I wanted to do was make some form of overall improvement to my brain, a general boost not a particular improvement. So as for an implant, what I decided on some form of 'reseeding', growing extra neurons in an organised way to improve my mind. I liked this idea as it also acknowledged a kind of link to what was also there present in the world. A natural growth. I think it so important to acknowledge the environment and the important link we have with it in our development. So, for my work piece I simply decided I wanted to 'grow' something additive within my brain. I made three attempts to accomplish this and they are my three images for 'Change my Mind'. A work simply adding extra plants, neuron-trees, in painted form, actually growing cress seeds in the space left on the work to add the input and then lodging a whole small tree in the space to hint at this extra growth. I like the idea it is a tree and it hints at the nature of these complex processes with as much below ground as above ground and their immense complexity, their responsiveness to the place where they are nurtured and the fact as science continues, we find them ever more complexly related to each other through micro-rhizomes.

 

They all hint at the organic, regrowth and reseeding, maybe the possibility of just improving our brains, our psyche through environmental, educational and nurturing improvements. The group of works is called "InSeed".

Test works, works I made as I headed towards  the final pieces for the final show and the set of three works comprising 'InSeed'.

For my part

From 2017 to 2020 I worked as an artist with a team of scientists at a number of major Universities across the UK on a project that involved brain implants and genetic engineering. The lead team for this work at Newcastle University were the CANDO team, ((Controlling Abnormal Network Dynamics using Optogenetics); working on neurotechnologies ('brain implants') that interface directly with the brain and that are being used to restore sight, hearing, movement to people with disability, as well as helping to treat neurological conditions like stroke and epilepsy.

Increasingly, these technologies are being developed by companies like Facebook and Elon Musk's Neuralink. Their commercial interests extend beyond medical applications to the enhancement of healthy human abilities.

In future, the use of neural interfaces has the potential to radically change how we experience the world, the way we think and communicate, and how we interact with computers, machines and virtual reality.

We have seen in other domains how new technologies designed to improve our lives canhave unanticipated consequences, for example allowing companies to collect data about us, or changing our behaviour in ways we didn't expect. Sometime new technologies benefit only some people at the cost of others. But once they are widely adopted it can be too late and very difficult to change course.

These concerns are particularly acute for neural interfaces that tap directly into our brain circuits, blurring the boundaries between our minds and technology. Therefore, now is the right time to have a conversation about what we do and don't want future neurotechnologies to change about ourselves and our society.

For this project, Change My Mind, I will develop a visual 'platform', an embryonic work that extends this debate collaboratively with contributors in a process that echoes how our minds might be forged in the future.

On Brain Implants

Neurotechnologies ('brain implants') that interface directly with the brain are being used to restore sight, hearing, movement to people with disability, as well as helping to treat neurological conditions like stroke and epilepsy.

Increasingly, these technologies are being developed by companies like Facebook and Elon Musk's Neuralink. Their commercial interests extend beyond medical applications to the enhancement of healthy human abilities.

In future, the use of neural interfaces has the potential to radically change how we experience the world, the way we think and communicate, and how we interact with computers, machines and virtual reality.

We have seen in other domains how new technologies designed to improve our lives can have unanticipated consequences, for example allowing companies to collect data about us, or changing our behaviour in ways we didn't expect. Sometime new technologies benefit only some people at the cost of others. But once they are widely adopted it can be too late to change course.

These concerns are particularly acute for neural interfaces that tap directly into our brain circuits, blurring the boundaries between our minds and technology. Therefore, now is the right time to have a conversation about what we do and don't want future neurotechnologies to change about ourselves and our society. It is important that everyone gets to take part in this conversation.

Professor Andrew Jackson    March 2022

Professor of Neural Interfaces. Biosciences Institute
Henry Wellcome Building, Medical School, Newcastle University