The connection – and potential disconnect – between the brain’s internal and external worlds is explored in artworks that combine textiles and neuroscience.
Textile artist Chrys Zantis has worked with neuroscientist Associate Professor Marta Garrido and her team since May 2019, first at the Queensland Brain Institute and now as an Artist in Residence at the University of Melbourne.
Associate Professor Garrido investigates how the brain processes sensory information and predicts future events. The brain creates predictive models of the outside world and updates them continuously. These models help the brain deal efficiently with the huge volume of incoming information. They also help the brain react quickly and flexibly to unexpected events, as it does not have to start from scratch each time. But in some conditions, such as anxiety and schizophrenia, the brain’s predictive processes are disrupted. Investigating how prediction works could help researchers understand how or why some mental health disorders arise.
Zantis regularly visited the Garrido lab to observe the team at work. She took inspiration from the electroencephalography (EEG) electrode cap used to measure brain activity when studying predictive modelling. The cap makes it easier to fix EEG electrodes to a person’s scalp.
Using old, broken EEG caps, Zantis created a headdress that combines anatomical features of the brain with haute couture. Beneath the Surface is a collection of photographs of a model wearing the headdress. It illustrates the sensory and social disruptions that people with mental health issues experience in everyday life.
The photographs in Beneath the Surface depict the sensory and social disruptions that people with mental health conditions experience every day.
A second series of textile and photographic works, Inside Out, pairs the headdress with other wearable art. Zantis incorporated gold fairy lights into a knitted bodice and embroidered skirt. This work conveys what she sees as a gold rush of scientific discovery.
Artwork from both series was displayed at the 9th Annual Scientific Meeting of Biological Psychiatry Australia, held at the Melbourne Brain Centre in 2019. It was also exhibited at the Australasian Neuroscience Society’s annual conference in Adelaide in 2019.
Beneath the Surface and Inside Out will be part of the artist’s solo exhibition at Logan Art Gallery in Brisbane, Queensland, in December 2022.
Chrys Zantis received funding from the Queensland Regional Arts Development Fund to produce a documentary on this collaboration. Filming will begin in late 2021. The artworks will also form part of a dance project organised by Professor Carol Brown from the Victorian College of the Arts. Mental Dance will involve workshops, a performance and a talk. It is part of the MENTAL exhibition at Science Gallery Melbourne.
Zantis C (2019) Beneath the Surface [headpiece, photographs]. Artist’s collection, Brisbane, Australia
Zantis C (2019) Inside Out [headpiece, bodice and skirt]. Artist’s collection, Brisbane, Australia
Re-use this text
The original version of this article was published on the Brain Dialogue under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International license.
Please use the text of this article for your own purposes. The CC BY 4.0 International license lets you copy, transform and share the text without restriction. We appreciate appropriate credit and links back to this website. Other content on this page (such as images, videos and logos) is not covered by the CC BY license and may not be used without permission from the copyright holder. If you have any questions about using this text, please contact the research web team.
Images: Chrys Zantis/Photography by Nova Blooming
First published on 30 March 2022.
Share this article