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Narrating Plasticity: Sculpting stories of change between neuroscience and the plastic arts

This project opens dialogues between the neurosciences and the plastic arts surrounding conceptions of “plasticity”. We begin with the idea that contemporary conceptions of neuroplasticity – the mutability of the human brain – share common grounds with the thinking of plasticity in sculpture and the plastic arts. This project aims to explore the artistic, clinical, and philosophical cross-fertilizations that might result from a reconnection of current neuroscience with its artistic and sculptural roots, asking what innovations these dialogues might propose to both research and clinical practice in the neurosciences, and creative practices in the plastic arts. 

Reuniting the two estranged plasticities of neuroscience and the arts, this project is governed by two main questions. Firstly: what is the same and what is different about the plasticity of a plastic art work and the plasticity of the brain? Secondly: what kinds of narratives does plasticity produce in art, and how might these narratives inform our understanding of the stories we tell about neural subjectivity, particularly in clinical scenarios where a patient has experienced some form of cerebral trauma and has to articulate the changes that have happened to them to a diverse team of clinicians.

In order to forge these dialogues, this project brings together a team of neuroscientists from the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosience and the ceremacist Amanda Doidge over a series of workshops. Half of these workshops are being held in the artist’s studio, and the other half on the neuroscientist’s own “terrain”, be this a laboratory, a neuro-imaging facility, or other.

The project will culminate in an exhibition showcasing the art work produced in the encounter to be held on 2nd and 3rd February 2018, held at the King’s Anatomy Theatre and Museum. In addition to the artworks on display, there will be panel discussions and talks featured the scientists, Amanda, and other guests, aiming to reflect upon the project and to open further dialogues between the neurosciences, philosophy, and the plastic arts. Further, the project will seek to question how these cross-fertilizations might have an impact on clinical practice.

This project is a collaboration between King's College London's, French Department, Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute and Ceramicist Amanda Doidge.  It is supported by the university's Culture team as part of the Early Career Researchers scheme.

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