Brainbow Hippocampus

22K gilded microetching in custom frame
24” X 32”, 2014
Greg Dunn and Brian Edwards
Limited edition of 20

Please contact for pricing

This microetching is of the cellular structure of the rodent hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in learning, memory, and sensory integration.  It depicts the classically studied trisynaptic loop wherein axons arriving via the perforant path from cortex (bottom left) synapse onto the neurons of the dentate gyrus (C-shaped structure, bottom center).  These neurons in turn sent their axons to pyramidal neurons of the CA3 region (right), followed by CA3 sending axons to synapse onto the bushy dendrites of the CA1 pyramidal neurons (field of neurons in left and center top).
This microetching is also designed to illustrate an important genetic technique called Brainbow developed by researchers as a way of visualizing the brain.  Scientists randomly expressed combinations of blue, red, and yellow fluorescent proteins in every neuron in a mouse’s brain, leading to a dazzling variety of colors that is completely different for each mouse.  Having the neurons a particular color makes them easier to trace amongst the many millions of neurons in the brain.

We illustrate this concept in the painting by having each neuron catch light from a specific angle.  When different lamps are placed around the painting, each neuron catches a unique combination of colors yielding a rainbow effect.  As the Brainbow technique itself is a random process, we capture this fact in the microetching by demonstrating that the colors look completely different depending on the angular perspective of the viewer.  As the colors of each mouse’s neurons would look unique, each perspective shift in the painting reveals a unique set of colors.

 

Brainbow Hippocampus lit with white light

Brainbow Hippocampus lit with white light

Brainbow Hippocampus lit with multicolored light

Brainbow Hippocampus lit with multicolored light

Brainbow Hippocampus detail of black walnut shadowbox

Brainbow Hippocampus detail of black walnut shadowbox

The microetching is sold in a custom shadowbox with a dark wood frame outfitted with both single white and multicolored lights installed on faders.  The sets of colored and white lights can be controlled independently.  This allows the microetching to be viewed in either exclusively white light (“confocal mode”), or with colored lights (“Brainbow mode”).

BBHC still image compilation

 

 

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