We know the human brain is the most complex object in the world, but have you ever wondered what it would look like SEEING that complexity?

On a recent adventure across the information superhighways, I was thrilled to discover the incredible beauty of the work of Dr. Greg Dunn – a neuroscience artist. His work stopped me in my tracks.

Most of us have the same visual idea of what the brain looks like from the drab, age-old picture of a grey jelly-like mass, but Greg gives us an altogether more dazzling perspective and one that inspires something of a more visceral response.

Let’s begin with a brief, but breathtaking look at Mind Illuminated, an exhibition at the Mütter Museum brought to us here by Will Drinker

Bringing the beauty of the brain to life…

The detail of Dr. Dunn’s work is mind-blowing. He and his colleague, Dr. Brian Edwards, utilize a technique called micro-etching to render the brain in all of its awe-inspiring complexity.

Here’s a glimpse into the remarkable process Dunn uses to capture the complexity of the brain in his pieces, also from Will Drinker on YouTube

Self Reflected…

Self Reflected, a piece on permanent display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, is described as the most complex artistic rendition of the human brain in the world. This highly detailed piece is a microscopic insight into the continuous explosion of neural activity in the human brain.

Words have nothing on the visual wonder of pieces done by the neuroscience artist.

So, here’s a clip of the installation from the great channel, NewsWorks, with some explanation from the artist himself:

Via: NewsWorks 3

Self Reflected is a truly remarkable feat from the precision of the micro-etching, to the speed of light used to reflect brain activity (500 microseconds), to the meticulous application of 1750 gold leaves, to the mathematical computations required to create the choreography of activity. It’s in this precision, this detail, this moving beyond what is known and what has been done before that the scientist seamlessly traverses into the artistic domain.

Traversing the world between art & science...

All of Greg’s work is infused with his love of Asian art and part of his genius is in melding the intricacies of his style with his subject matter. He takes the brain, or the spinal cord, or a neuron and drenches them in beauty.

In the realms of neuroscience and understanding more of the brain and its capabilities, Greg himself exemplifies the rich diverse possibilities that exist: making the genius transition between neuroscientist and artist.

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There are, of course, centuries of evidence of the two worlds of Science and Art converging. But this contemplation and exploration of human potential is what I find most exhilarating.

The people fusing worlds and harnessing the skills, knowledge, and experience of one and feeding it into the passion and talents of another open up limitless potential.

I wonder what the study of this most complex object in the world will lead to in regards to understanding more of our human capabilities. And I wonder what could be possible if we collectively blurred the lines between passions. What if we all made room for our naturally inquisitive nature to flourish and if we all gave ourselves permission to explore and experiment?

Keep your light shining bright & let your love flow.


Heidi is our newest guest writer here on EWC, check out her other piece on an incredible project documenting humanity. You, too, can become a guest writer and contribute to your voice to a community spanning 190+ countries, simply contact us with your ideas!

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  1. “Mütter Museum Exhibition – Greg Dunn “Mind Illuminated”” YouTube. Will Drinker, 22 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkh6CCIXUoE>.
  2. “An Introduction To Microetching.” YouTube. Will Drinker, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLt5A29N0zg>.
  3. “Greg Dunn Talks about the Science behind His Art.” YouTube. NewsWorks, 21 June 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BkqJvIq6mQ&feature=youtu.be>.

Heidi Jackson is a travel-loving, yoga-loving Londoner. She loves exploring beyond what the eye can see and is passionate about the connection between mind, heart, body, and soul.