Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be the painting most museum goers flock to when checking off must-view-in-person bucket list items, but there is another world-famous work of art from the Renaissance artist that proves much more elusive–though equally as worthy–to visit.
For a few weeks at a time, every six years, da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is displayed at Gallerie dell’Accademia (though, in 2019, it was controversially on view at the Louvre), a museum in Venice that houses pre-19th-century art. The famous anatomy sketches hint at da Vinci’s fascination with the human body-as-art-form and, as serious students of both art and science know, he would go on to dissect more than 30 cadavers over his lifetime, studying in-depth the central nervous system and the brain, and even collaborating with the physician-anatomist Marcantonio della Torre during his time living in Pavia, Italy.
This merging of artistic technique and science by one of the world’s most revered artists took place in the 15th century, but it is on those shoulders from centuries ago that today’s art-meets-science collaborations rest.
Enter ARTECHOUSE’’s groundbreaking marriage of art and science exhibition: Life of a Neuron (on view through Nov. 28, 2021 in Washington, DC). A cutting-edge collaboration pairing the creative minds behind the digital art space and the scientists at Society for Neuroscience, Life of a Neuron deploys the latest in digital technology to create an experience that immerses visitors in the human brain–and explores how neurons shape the shared human experience.
“Any kind of scientific concepts that we see visually, both today and in the past, were captured and interpreted by someone in a creative field. First illustrators, then animators and digital designers,” says Sandro, co-founder and CEO of ARTECHOUSE. He founded ARTECHOUSE in 2015 with partner Tatiana, who serves as managing director. “This exhibit represents the next step in this process, using high-level tools, technological expertise and advanced artistic practices to translate these complex scientific stories.”
Life of a Neuron is the newest exhibition from ARTECHOUSE–which was founded as a space to showcase digital artistry in DC and now has additional locations in New York and Miami–and it is serving as a launch pad to bring scientists and artists together in the name of both beauty and understanding.
“Art can reimagine the specialized world of science for non-experts and transform it into a more approachable and emotionally engaging subject, attracting the next generation of artists and scientists who want to experience something relevant to their lives today and the current state of creative exploration,” says Sandro. “Exhibits like Life of a Neuron that seamlessly blend the two fields provide an opportunity for people to approach, understand and hopefully fall in love with science in a way they may not have been able to before.”
The exhibition brings to life how exactly a neuron makes a person’s brain think, with visitors experiencing a responsive digital work of art that is ultimately tailored to each individual who comes through the doors at ARTECHOUSE. Each artist that contributed to the multi-layered exhibition was paired with at least one neuroscientist to ensure that the art created stayed true to the science behind it.
“Artists and scientists are more alike than they seem,” says Sandro. “The work of each has inspired and fueled innovation and discovery for centuries.”
And, while this decidedly 21st-century art may look worlds apart from da Vinci’s anatomical sketches, the spirit in which they were created remains the same.
“Ultimately, we hope that by immersing audiences in the complex story of our brain, they will pause to consider how incredible our human existence and biological design is,” says Sandro. “Life is a beautiful journey, and we want people to discover the role that our neurons play in all of our experiences.”
DAZZLING IN DIGITAL
ARTECHOUSE’s mission is to explore and advance human creativity using today’s cutting-edge technological tools. In addition to Life of a Neuron, find Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies, which celebrates the historical, social, and cultural aspects of the Black experience through the perspective of West African artists Vince Fraser and Ursula Rucker, at ARTECHOUSE in Miami through Nov. 7, 2021. In New York, ARTECHOUSE is showing Geometric Properties, which explores fundamental mathematical patterns to stimulate existential self reflection and emphasize the pure wonderment of being through the use of endless iterations and multiple dimensions of fractals, through Oct. 31, 2021.