paméla SIMARD

BFA Art History & Studio Arts - Sculpture, 

Concordia University. 

This project explores the similarities between the processes involved in artistic creativity and in scientific research. To what extent can we create alternative visual methods and when do these methods become protocols? 

The various installations were created from fluorescent microscopy images representing the visual system of the fruit fly brain, and more precisely, the synaptic connections formed by adhesion molecules. Through the analysis of these images, the project aims to recreate the materialized process with sculpture. Every piece of the installation was made by hand. 

A fundamental element shared by the artistic and scientific representations is their sensitivity towards detail, which translates into a much deeper knowledge. It allows new methodologies to develop and to understand the limitations of materials that both the artist and the scientist are faced with. It is a process of rupture, progress and transition that allows for a full appreciation of all of the complexity of the subject. 

hunter SHAW

Ms.Sc. Physiology McGill University. Ph.D. Candidate Biology McGill University. 

Originally from a small farming community in British Columbia, Hunter Shaw has spent the last eight years studying Health Sciences at McGill University. After receiving a BSc in Physiology, he began to pursue a PhD in Biology under the supervision of Dr. Yong Rao at the Centre for Research in Neuroscience of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). 

Hunter Shaw’s research focuses on how adhesion molecules help neurons make proper and functioning connections in the brain. These adhesion molecules act like glue on the surface of neurons, allowing them to stick to their correct synaptic partners. To understand the underlying mechanisms of the functioning of adhesion molecules, Shaw uses the fruit fly visual system. The well understood genetics and anatomy of the fruit fly visual system make it an excellent model to study how adhesion molecules contribute to synaptic connectivity. In addition, the visual system in fruit flies possesses many similarities to humans regarding their genetic and anatomical features. Therefore, Shaw’s research project uses the genetic tools available in the fruit fly to study adhesion molecules that have homologues in humans. Uncovering the mechanism of these molecules in flies will undoubtedly provide a better understanding of how their homologues might be functioning in human neurological conditions. 

alexa PIOTTE

Mayor Design - Minor Psychology, 

Concordia University. 

Drosophila melanogaster, or more commonly known as the fruit fly, proves to be extremely beneficial in the advancement of our understanding of the human brain. With the development of genetic techniques in fruit flies in which a gene can be deleted, re-expressed, or even mis-expressed in a mutant background, we can obtain significant insight into how certain genes may be contributing to the development and function of the human brain. Alexa Piotte and Hunter Shaw’s BDL: Mapping out the Genetic Blueprint of the Fruit Fly Visual System serves to portray how studying one of these genes located in the fruit fly visual system, called Borderless, may lead to important discoveries around the development of certain human brain malfunctions, such as epilepsy. The superimposition of sequential acrylic sheets represents the complex layering of brain functioning at different levels: Behavioural, Anatomical, Cellular and Synaptic. Each level maps out the functioning at that particular level through intricate laser printed graphics. The project can be understood in more detail through an accompanying folded, blueprint style infographic. 

Photo by Kevin Jung-Hoo Park

Bdl, 2017. Paméla Simard and Hunter Shaw, Hand laminated wood (wenge, maple, pine, cherry, mahogany and walnut), plexiglass, magnifying glass.

Photo by C. Zaelzer

Photo by C. Zaelzer

Photo by Alex Tran

Photo by Alex Tran

BDL: Mapping Out the Genetic Blueprint of the Fruit Fly Visual System, 2017. Alexa Piotte and Hunter Shaw, Structure: plexiglass, battery, electrical wires, LED light strips, FemtoBuck LED driver, Pamphlet: silk Hammermill paper.

Photo by C. Zaelzer

Photo by Alex Tran

Photo by C. Zaelzer

Photo by Alex Tran

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