Synaptic Wall is a collaborative project exploring the development of a new type of interactive drawing tool aimed at promoting a wider engagement with the brain sciences. Synaptic Wall will allow users to devise and create their own functioning ‘nodal networks’ (modelled on ideas from neural networks) within a paper–digital interface. Inspired by the late 19th century neuroanatomical drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Synaptic Wall will use the programmable interactive graphics software environment Processing to build a new functional context into the very individual and creative process of drawing.
At the ‘anatomical’ level, the system is being designed to work with nodes (akin to neuronal cell bodies), input and output structures (akin to dendrites and axons) and nodal connections (akin to synapses), the user having complete freedom to specify how these structures connect to form nodal networks. Through the computer-based recognition of hand-drawn elements, ‘active’ processes such as signal transmission and network learning (plasticity) can be calculated and superimposed on top of the hand-drawn network. As a portable system, the Synaptic Wall will be able to function as a collaborative, artistic performance tool.
- Synaptic Wall is being developed in collaboration with Professor Michael Platt (Director, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, USA), media artist Pinar Yoldas and programmers Yang Su, Gregory Mittelstaedt, Loredana Diaconu, Ahmed Ghazi.