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Dr. Timothy Senior | Towards the Memory Tower

unplugged heads 2.0 am 09.11.2010

The capacity to record our daily experiences in memory allows us to extract knowledge and rules about the world around us. Through this vital function, we can act in accordance with what we have previously experienced as well as be prepared for what we may encounter in the future. Information that has been encoded in the brain during waking experience, however, is not initially stable, being susceptible to disruption. Indeed, it is only through a process of memory consolidation that these new labile memories can be transformed into a more stable, long-lasting form.

The ?Memory Tower? is a full-immersion virtual reality environment exploring the neural mechanisms behind the consolidation, and reorganization, of memory traces during sleep within the brain. The nature of memory formation is reflected through the use of historical, architectural motifs, serving as visual metaphors for both the content and structure of memory traces. By creating a rich cityscape that encompasses more familiar notions of memory from our everyday encounters with the world around us, the work aims to extend beyond a reductionist, scientific description of memory content and to acknowledge notions of collective human experience and history.

In this presentation, Dr. Senior will introduce notions of memory encoding and consolidation from the perspective of the neurosciences, and discuss his installation work in the context of how art practices may function in bridging the gap between the science of the brain and the experiences that the brain engenders.

Following the completion of his doctorate in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford in 2008, Dr. Senior has been pursuing his interests in using contemporary digital media practices to communicate scientific understanding in a more intuitive and experiential manner. The Memory Tower is his first major installation work carried out during a residency as Visiting Artist and Research Scholar at Duke University, North Carolina. Since Fall 2010, he has been a Visiting Junior Fellow at the centre for Visual Communication and Expertise (VisComX) at Jacobs University, Bremen, where is continuing his artistic research. In addition to his creative work, Dr. Senior has devised and taught a number of undergraduate courses combining scientific and artistic concerns. These include ?Bioart? (Fall 2009, Duke university) and ?The Place of Memory? (Spring 2010, Duke university).