At George Green’s and Bow Schools, we thought about brain mapping and how we could show pathways/journeys/the development of ideas using a familiar template, namely the London Underground map. From an actual journey to school to an emotional journey in the head, from invented landscapes to simply mapping the things we like, it was all here.
It seems that memories are stored in many different areas of the brain, not just the hippocampus. In M-SET’s amazing installation ‘inside the brain’, we lit up all the memories we’d created in the workshops at UEL on these giant lamps. Family, events big and small and sometimes just the small things we retain: they all inform the way we see the world.
‘We can actually write on the door?’
Language. Words we like, words we don’t like, words we don’t understand, words that have special meaning for us, words that hurt. Negotiating with each other how to represent the richness of the languages we speak, we created 3 graffiti doors that hung in the installation.
The strips we all made created a fabulous tunnel that everyone could move through and see their own work. Representing the ‘personal’ neural pathways, there were over 120 of these shimmering treasures! This young person is one of the co-creators.
Another participant was Bob, seen here on the chair. We wanted to find an activity that used the planning/ thinking/ designing bit of the brain and asked students to take a basic chair, some newspaper, string and masking tape and create something new. One group created Bob who is pretty dazzled by the occasion.
Another young person engaged in some action art and in the space of about 10 minutes had covered the chair before – quite triumphantly – sitting on it. Before we hung it up of course.
Finally, we wondered what the brain of the future might look like. What functions would it need? Could it be built from uniform pieces? Each student had but a few minutes to work with a hexagonal base and triangles at six stations representing areas including language, colour and light (red, green or blue), creative spark, time and number. Over the course of the morning exhibition on 25th May 2018, it grew and grew. The making of it was a bit like factory work with strict instructions on how to construct the pieces. It was a far cry from the very free approach in the workshops leading up to the final event.
One student from Morpeth School who had enjoyed the opportunity to create without a fixed outcome during the workshops said of this activity, ‘You are oppressing me.’ I noticed it was written on one of the triangles. I couldn’t agree more. The individual brain is an amazing thing. May we hope that it is never replaced by a soulless machine.