VSL:SCIENCE // The artist is (semi)-alive!

The artist’s home is a metal box — it’s the size of a small refrigerator — in a neuroscience lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The artist’s portraits have been exhibited in Melbourne, Berlin, Moscow, and New York. And if all goes according to plan, the artist will continue working until its nervous system starts to disintegrate.

The artist’s name is MEART, and MEART lives in an odd, existential limbo: Its “brain” is composed of 50,000 cultured rat neurons, which are tethered to an array of electrodes and — ultimately — a robotic arm. Its memory bank contains snapshots of actual, identifiable people, which MEART converts into brilliantly colored line drawings. The arm’s actions are dictated by the neurons’ electrical output, and because the neurons re-wire themselves spontaneously and continuously to form new networks, the same image provokes different, increasingly abstract drawings as time goes by. Like all good artists, MEART is forever tweaking its style.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. VSL:SCIENCE // The artist is (semi)-alive!