“Fundamentally Human” at the Pera Museum

By Cornucopia | April 6, 2011

Fundamentally Human

(Rona Pondick, Worry Beads (RP-25), 1999-2001) The Pera Museum can always be relied upon for a good, solid show - the Frida and Diego, Scenes from Tsarist Russia, and Botero exhibitions, among others, all attest to this. But Fundamentally Human, which opens tomorrow, is something of a departure from this trend, in that it focuses on the big questions as well as the pretty pictures. The focus here is on the interface of science, specifically neuroscience, and art. Not only are the techniques employed in its creation at the cutting edge of technology, but the product itself encourages the visitor to consider what makes us human. With Laboratory Ars Viva 2010/11 opening at the new SALT space on İstiklal on Saturday, the scientific approach clearly resonates with artists at the moment.

(Andrew Carnie, Magic Forest, 2002) But what of the art? Abstract concepts about consciousness and mortality are all well and good, but without something to look at the show would fall flat. Fortunately, the visuals are as impressive as the ideas. During the press conference, it was explained that those involved in the exhibition are "artists rather than illustrators", which is to say that their art goes beyond merely explaining scientific concepts, but actually uses the conceptual framework to create something more interesting than mere description. Suzanne Anker, the curator of the show, is represented within by her MRI Butterfly works; here, the same butterfly is superimposed onto MRI brain scans and marked with random inkblots to create a Rorschach-effect image. Andrew Carnie's Magic Forest (above) projects fluorescent neuron branches onto a dark screen, while Rona Pondick's Worry Beads (top) combine the use of beads as a form of stress-relief with the latest ideas in the study of the mind. Sweetest of all, though, is Leonel Moura's ISU series, in which a pen-wielding robot creates words and pictures, randomly generated; the 'poetry' it creates as it rolls about would have gladdened the heart of even the most hardened Dadaist. Meşrutiyet Caddesi no.65, 34443 Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu. 7 April - 3 July. Entrance free.

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