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The Glass Veil: Seven Adventures in Wonderland


Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

In this collaborative work between artist and theorist Suzanne Anker and art historian Sabine Flach, the study of image production unveils the reality of pictures beyond their function as mere representations of the world. The visuals range from firsthand accounts of specimen collections in historical medical museums, to scientific research laboratories, to studies of plant propagation, among other themes concerning life forms and Bio Art. Focusing on systems of artistic knowledge, the authors demonstrate how context, scale and framing devices alter meaning in pictorial systems. Somatic responses, classification networks and image banks are explored as they relate to intersections in visual art and the biological sciences.
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Dialogue II: The Butterfly in the Brain / Rorschach: Suzanne Anker & Sabine Flach


Figure 28. Suzanne Anker, Butterfly in the Brain, 2007. Installation view of Brainwave: Common Senses, Exit Art, New York, 2007. Photograph by Henry G. Sanchez. ← 88 | 89 → ← 89 | 90 → ← 90 | 91 →


Sabine Flach: The Butterfly in the Brain (2002) and The Rorschach series (2004) focused on the neurosciences as your subject matter. Why did this shift to the cognitive sciences replace your work with genetics?

Suzanne Anker: With the information revealed by the first draft of the Human Genome in 2000, various aspects of brain morphology, neurogenetic variation and gene expression, were being studied by scientists. New imaging technologies including fMRI, CAT scans and advanced sonograms revealed acute aspects of the workings of the human nervous system. The complexity of genetics and its variable permutations is certainly outdistanced by neurological processes. The neurosciences and their attendant landscapes also uncover and expand questions concerning perception, emotion, motion, cognition, and the unconscious. These sciences relate the workings of the brain to language acquisition and metaphorical structuring, as well as to bodily gestures. Thus, these concepts have an underscored affiliation with visual art practice. Questions concerning identity and memory are prominent components of many contemporary artists’ work. Desires to picture thought and emotion have, especially since the invention of the X-ray, whetted the imagination of artists and lay people alike.1

SF: The installation The Butterfly in the Brain is a body of work consisting of objects,...

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