Conjured Futures: Artist's Statement

Abbey Hepner

Optogenetic Cybernetic Translations

In the series, Optogenetic Cybernetic Translations, I am investigating the artist and scientist as translators of data that illuminate the connections existing in the broader world. My collaborator, scientist Mike Avery, is researching optogenetics, a technique that involves the use of light to manipulate neurons in the brain. I used images from his lab: histological brain sections, stained with immunohistochemical markers, and imaged using confocal microscopy. I then explored how artificial intelligence might interpret these brain scans, creating metaphors for what the future might hold as technology infiltrates our fields. 

I used computer vision software, which is a technology concerned with the automatic interpretation, analysis and understanding of information from a single image, to interpret the brain scans. The results of this interpretation included an aurora, fireflies, bioluminescence, rust or texture, light, and military night vision. I paired each brain scan with its corresponding AI translation, resulting in interesting metaphors between cognition and a world full of beautiful, or potentially frightening, phenomenon. By allowing our collaborative work to be interpreted by a third party we are embracing the fact that our work is larger than ourselves and never wholly in our control.