DCART Annual Exhibition

Convergence 4

becoming plastic

Andre Noack * Leila Gillespie-Coultier * Casandra Charlebois-Poirier

 
 

Commentary

 

Art Statement

As artists and designers, we settle into habits and routines during our creation process. We have preferences regarding styles, mediums, shapes, sizes, colours, etc. What happens when part of our process is dismantled? We adapt.

Our body’s natural reaction, to changing environments, is to adapt. As continuously evolving beings, we have evolved to become accustomed to situations where our normality is disturbed. In this way, we humans need to respond to different situations occurring within our environment and modify our reactions throughout our lives. This action is seen through the observation of a brain’s plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity. With time and repetition, and after being subject to change, a brain can create new connections and even strengthen existing ones, resulting in synaptic plasticity.

In the project “Becoming Plastic,” we as subjects represent a synapse in a communal brain. By completing an art piece on the same subject individually in a rotation, we will attempt to provide a multi-layered, visual and potentially tactile representation, using mediums that also undergo change or transformation over the creation process in response to external stimuli. This way, the artists have to adapt by giving up part of their control. One synapse might be more assertive, more worked or strengthen itself during the process. Synapses strengthen themselves when the connectivity is strong. In this way, the art piece will showcase the stronger connection between the artwork and the artist.

 

Biographies

Andre Noack

I am Andre Noack, and I come originally from Teltow, a small town in the south of Berlin, Germany. I am a curious designer with a passion for typography, photography, and digital design. After working and studying in Berlin, I am now obtaining my degree in Design at Concordia University in Montréal. My style is focusing on high accuracy and perfectionism. I am highly interested in visual and verbal language and fascinated by simplicity and minimalism since it can generate an extensive effect with significantly reduced means.

Casandra Charlebois-Poirier

Hi, I'm Casandra, a graphic designer from Montreal and I am currently completing a BFA in Design at Concordia.

Leila Gillespie-Coultier

I’m Leila a multidisciplinary design student based in Montreal. It's my final year in the BFA Design program at Concordia University. I’m interested in graphic design & object design, and I like to explore various mediums. My work is centered around product design. I love to collaborate on projects and explore the sustainability aspect of design.

 

Artwork

We recommend you to watch the film in full screen

 

Science

Our body’s natural reaction, to changing environments, is to adapt. As continuously evolving beings, we have evolved to become accustomed in situations where our normality is disturbed. In this way, throughout our lives, us humans need to respond to different situations occurring within our environment and modify our reactions. This action is seen through the observation of a brain’s plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity. With time and repetition, and after being subject to change, a brain can create new connections and even strengthen already existent ones thus resulting in synaptic plasticity.

The phenomenon of synaptic plasticity allows the brain to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the environment. A change in connectivity between neurons effectively regulates how the brain processes and stores information [1,2]. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that synaptic plasticity underlies virtually all brain function, from brain development, to learning and memory [3,4], and dysfunctional plasticity forms a major aspect in neuropathologies such as epilepsy, autism, depression and Alzheimer’s disease [5]. 

There are many different processes involved in synaptic plasticity, e.g. formation or degradation of synaptic contacts, which is also referred to as structural plasticity [6,7]. However, synaptic strength can also be altered through insertion or removal of molecular structures called receptors that shape neuronal activity by responding to signals such as neurotransmitters [7]. Receptors are expressed in a highly organized way and changing this organization will also alter communication at the synapse [8]. 

References

  1. Regehr, W. G. Short-term presynaptic plasticity. CSH Persp. Biol. 4, a005702 (2012). 

  2. Awasthi, A. et al. Synaptotagmin-3 drives AMPA receptor endocytosis, depression of synapse strength, and forgetting. Science 363, eaav1483 (2019). 

  3. Kuhlman, S. J. et al. A disinhibitory microcircuit initiates critical-period plasticity in the visual cortex. Nature 501, 543-546 (2013). 

  4. Nabavi, S. et al. Engineering a memory with LTD and LTP. Nature 511, 348-352 (2014). 

  5. Paoletti, P., Bellone, C. & Zhou, Q. NMDA receptor subunit diversity: impact on receptor properties, synaptic plasticity and disease. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 14, 383-400 (2013). 

  6. Bernardinelli, Y., Nikonenko, I. & Muller, D. Structural plasticity: mechanisms and contribution to developmental psychiatric disorders. Front. Neuroanat. 8, 123 (2014). 

  7. Lamprecht, R. & LeDoux, J. Structural plasticity and memory. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 5, 45-54 (2004). 

  8. Collingridge, G. L., Isaac, J. T. & Wang, Y. T. Receptor trafficking and synaptic plasticity. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 5, 952-962 (2004). 

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