Client: New York University
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $120,000
Dr André Fenton
Professor at the Center for Neural Science NYU.
Reconfiguring Memory is a permanent art installation, the result of a two-year collaboration between artist Shuli Sadé and Dr. André Fenton, Professor at the Center for Neural Science at Neurobiology of Cognition Laboratory at NYU. Sadé’s site specific work includes Encode/Decode, a conference table made of Glass, Stainless Steel and a Photograph. Traces: photographs on film bracket the laboratory conference room. Remapping: three looped single channel video pieces using recorded brain movements. An international group of Neural Scientists use the laboratory, where the conference table is the hub for exchange of new ideas. How can art serve science? Was the first question Dr. Fenton and Shuli Sadé contemplated on, during this successful collaboration. The site-specific art installation was created during the renovations of the New York University Neurobiology of Cognition Laboratory. This research laboratory in the Center for Neural Science features an art project by internationally recognized artist Shuli Sadé, one component of which, Encode /Decode doubles as the facility’s conference table.
The work, Encode/Decode, is the centerpiece of Professor André Fenton’s laboratory that is dedicated to research on memory and cognition. Reconfiguring Memory is an artistic affirmation that the best science is not conducted in isolation and through a microscope, but, often, through collaboration and the exchange of ideas. “The laboratory serves as a space for communication between scientists, international and local guests,” explains Fenton, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science. “It grants the scientists a sophisticated ambiance into which they can invite visitors to expose their work. It is an attempt to make explicit the interlocking efforts of art and science in defining culture. “ Reconfiguring Memory permanent installation not only serves a practical purpose, but also artistically incorporates the laboratory’s scientific focal point--memory.
I was invited to create a site-specific installation at the laboratory by André A. Fenton Ph.D., Professor of Neural Science at the Center for Neural Science of New York University. André is an internationally recognized electrophysiologist trained in extracellular recording of brain activity from freely moving animals. Over two years of collaboration we had weekly discussions about memory, comparing our work and research methods and examining the special needs of the laboratory. We collaborated with teams who helped this project materialize, the leadership of the faculty of Arts and Science and the Center for Neural Science at NYU, HDR Architects, Dan Lutz AIA, R.A. Heintges & Associates, Robert A. Heintges FAIA, David Bott PE SE, Galaxy Glass & Stone, Eugene Negrin, Andrew Shafran, and others. Everyone on board was extremely positive about combing art with function in form of a table. It was an extremely positive and good spirited collaboration from start to finish. The opening celebration introduced scientists from other Institutions to the lab. Everyone was hopeful to have similar art collaborations in his or her laboratories. Working with teams was a privilege: the goal of bringing art into the lives of the scientist was accomplished.
I had freedom to grow with the project, learn the architectural plans, interior design ideas and mainly how the laboratory was designed to function, information, which helped materialize my ideas. The video pieces use sounds from real experiments to make a clear connection between the visuals and the research.