The ONI Artist in Residence

The ONI Artist in Residence Program

At ONI we are democratizing scientific exploration, focusing on life's finest details to resolve some of the world's biggest challenges. We want to trigger a movement to democratize science that uses visual art to make science accessible and open to everyone.

As part of our mission, we have set up the ONI Artist in Residence (AIR) program, which reunites art and science using cutting-edge technology to reveal the truths of the natural world. We anticipate this program will help large audiences engage with art and science in a new way and to have a meaningful lasting impact on society.

For the 2019/2020 ONI AIR program we have chosen to focus on the human brain and are working on an exhibit around the latest research in neuroscience.

Keep an eye on this website and Twitter, as we will be revealing more details as the AIR program advances.

Brain Gazing

Artists in Residence Shuster + Moseley (right) meet with Prof and Dr Kaminski (left), leading scientists in the fields of neuroscience and microscopy at the University of Cambridge.

Why are we doing it?

The relationship between art and science dates to the early days of civilization; the discovery of fire allowed art in prehistoric caves, while ancient Greeks used art to study the human body and planet earth. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci fused art and natural philosophy (the precursor of modern science) with drawings that accurately documented human anatomy. In the 17th century, Robert Hooke's beautiful drawings revealed the world of microscopic life for the first time. Industrial revolution and subsequent specialization influenced both artists and scientists, and led to their separation, making art and science two independent and almost-opposite disciplines in modern age. With the ONI AIR program, we are reuniting art and science using the latest technologies available to both disciplines.

Brain Gazing Team

Original illustrations from Leonardo de Vinci: Studies of embryos from 1510-1513 (left) and Vitruvian Man drawn circa 1492 (right).

Who is involved in the 2019/2020 ONI AIR?

The 2019/2020 ONI Artists in Residence are London-based artists Shuster + Moseley, a conceptual art studio whose work reflects on consciousness and technology. The artists are represented by MTArt Agency, an award winning talent agency which represents the top visual artists. Shuster + Moseley previously collaborated with scientists for "What matters", part of Lumiere Durham 2017.

Filmmaker Guy Loftus from Tabac Creative is documenting the AIR process and meetings between artists and scientist. We will present a 10-minute video showing the process behind the creation of the artwork that will feature in the exhibit and media channels.

We have enlisted a team of world-leading scientists: London-based Prof Bart De Strooper, Cambridge-based Dr Gabrielle Kaminski and Prof Clemens Kaminski, and Oxford-based Dr Hazel Hall-Roberts. Our collaborators work on different aspects of neuroscience research and are working with us to ensure that the exhibit illustrates the molecular hallmarks of brain function and dysfunction, and some of the latest technology-driven brain research.

Brain Gazing Team

Artists in Residence Shuster + Moseley visiting the lab at ONI HQ during May 2019 and being shown the Nanoimager by ONI Imaging Scientist Dr Blanka Kellermayer.

How is the project coming together?

The theme for the 2019/2020 Artist in Residence project combines art and science to explore the power of the very small in understanding complex systems like our brain. We have named the project "Brain Gazing". At its core will sit an artwork created by Shuster + Moseley after the ONI residency and interactions with world-leading scientists, which they have termed Microcosmos. The artwork translates what scientists see with cutting-edge single-molecule technology and exposes the creation of memories that make us who we are. Read more about it here.

Our multidisciplinary team of artists and scientists have devised an exhibition that will take visitors on a trip inside the brain. Visitors will find themselves immersed into the brain's neural network, a forest of dendrites and axons. After spending time standing and adapting to the environment, the individual synaptic connections will be revealed by light pulses representing brain wave activity cycles. At the same time, this will accentuate the plasticity of the brain overall and reflect how activity patterns in response to different stimuli, including neuronal diseases, like Alzheimer's. We want to engage visitors in a positive way with the research currently done to better understand brain form and function, the origin of consciousness and nature of memory creation/loss and identity.

We also aim to get visitors to reflect on how technology-driven health research can impact our lives now and, in the future, and stimulate a conversation between the public, those living with dementia, artists and scientists.


TOP (the Science): Cortical pyramidal neurons labeled with Tetbow and imaged with confocal microscopy, scale bar is 20µm (left). High-magnification image of dendrites and dendritic spines of cortical pyramidal neurons labeled with various colors, scale bar is 5µm (right). Both images were provided by the Imai lab, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe (Japan).

BOTTOM (the Art): Model generated by Shuster + Moseley of the immersive artwork Microcosmos: a sculptural environment created from an intricate, precision-engineered network of curved, reflective stainless steel tubes and clusters of many hundreds of translucent, hand-blown glass orbs, illuminated by a series of programmed LEDs that represent brain wave activity cycles that radiate through the structure in constantly evolving patternation.

Timeline and updates

The artists R&D phase at ONI ended in mid-June 2019. Shuster + Moseley collaborate with glass blowers, a team of installers and specialist art riggers and engineers, which have led several high-profile public projects and artworks. They have all taken part in the R&D phase. Fabrication of the artwork will begin later winter-spring in 2020, we are seeking to collaborate with charities and not-for-profit organizations to ensure we can reach millions and make the project come to life.

The exhibition is scheduled to take place in summer 2020, starting in a London venue and touring around the UK. The venues are yet to be confirmed and will be announced in our social media channels and this website soon!

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Brain Gazing Team

The 2019/2020 ONI AIR started with Shuster + Moseley's R&D phase

More Information?

The Brain Gazing team is happy to help with questions or feedback