Greg Dunn’s neural landscape

Cortex-in-Metallic-Pastels-gold-leaf

Every so often these fantastic neural paintings by Greg Dunn get passed around. I never wondered about the backstory until now:

My artistic career began during my tenure as a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. As I came to learn, molecular research can be an existential exercise in that you must rely on machines and chemical reagents to “see” your experiments. Painting provided me a welcome respite from lab frustrations because it gave me a sense of control. When painting, I can experiment and immediately see the result, judge it against my intentions, and iterate as necessary. I can convey my thoughts to the world without having to worry about grants, contaminated compounds, the politics of publishing, or an unexpected flood in the mouse room threatening to wash away my study subjects.

…My graduate school days were filled with stunning microscopic imagery. Neurons, in particular, resonated with me. With their chaotic, unpredictable branching patterns, neurons have much in common aesthetically with traditional subjects of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ink painting, such as trees and branches. Viewed as landscapes, neuronal vistas would fit easily within an Asian context. I began to experiment with merging the two.

From American Scientist

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