Monday, 10 May 2010

Artist Michaela Nettell, scientist Dr Hugo Spiers and sound designer Tom Simmons: Pattern Completion

Monday, 17 May, 18:00 – 19:00

University College London

Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Garwood Lecture Theatre, South Wing

(Details how to get there at the bottom of the page)

Pattern Completion

Pattern Completion is an installation created by an artist, a sound designer and a neuroscientist exploring ways in which networks of brain cells recall memories.

When a memory is created activity patterns in the neurons become inscribed in their connections, leaving a trace known as an engram. It is thought that during recall this trace is restored and the original activity pattern re-established. This process is known as 'pattern completion' and is believed to occur in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. During the pattern completion process the initial activity of the cells is incoherent, but via repeated reactivation the activity pattern is pieced together until the original pattern is complete. Sometimes it fails, leaving us unable to bring elements of the past to mind.

Our installation echoes this process using sound recordings and photographic sequences captured in forests. The sequences are fragmented, shuffled and projected into constellations of suspended glass spheres. The forest scenes, based on pathways, clearings and walking are purposefully empty of people and objects. The images and sounds provide cues for viewers to complete, or interpret, these landscapes with recollections of their own.

The complex nature of memory, the ambiguities between remembered and imaged places, the ephemeral quality of our memories and the ways we use our memories to define ourselves are themes that underpin our installation and which we will discuss in our presentation.

Michaela Nettell combines video and film projections with glass, water and mirrors to create short films and sculptural installations that describe fleeting experiences of memory and perception. Her work has been exhibited in galleries throughout Europe and is regularly screened at international festivals and events.

Tom Simmons collaborates with artists, musicians and scientists to create films, installations, performances and texts that explore ways in which we perceive and experience sounds and animated moving images. He is a Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator at Norwich University College of the Arts.

Dr Hugo Spiers is a neuroscientist at University College London. His research explores how we navigate space and remember the past. Currently his research group are examining how small constellations of brain cells contribute to mapping space and guiding behaviour.

This talk coincides with the Pattern Completion exhibition:

Gimpel Fils Gallery, 30 Davies Street, WC1K 4NB, Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 May.

Private view: Wednesday 19 May 6pm – 8pm

Artist, scientist and Poet in conversation followed by food and drink on Saturday 22 May, 4pm – 6pm

Details about the project:

Getting to UCL:

The nearest Tube stations are Euston Square and Warren Street. For full details, see

How to find the Garwood Lecture Theatre:

Once you enter the main gate of UCL in Gower Street, you will face the Portico in the UCL quadrangle courtyard. Please take the right hand side diagonal and walk to the right corner of the building. You will see the brass tablet indicating South Wing. Enter the second entrance door at the South Wing, and you will find the Garwood Lecture Theatre on the first floor. There will be signs from the entrance that will help you to find the exact location easily.

You may also consult the UCL maps at:

Entrance is free, all welcome.

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