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Interference

By  Susan Eyre 2023

Installation. Video - 12 repurposed in-car monitor screens + control box, Text 326 words - A1 print on polyester paper. 

This installation speculates on human magnetoreception via magnetite crystals in brain cells. Research suggests that human alpha brainwaves react to a changing magnetic field. The printed narrative that accompanies the video installation, is a mix of fact and fiction based on a real experiment carried out at Caltech by scientists investigating human magnetoreception. The research found evidence that rotations of Earth-strength magnetic fields produce strong, specific and repeatable effects on human brainwave activity in the alpha-wave band. Alpha waves are always present in the brain, but are more prominent when at rest. The experiment, mimicked how a person might experience the Earth’s magnetic field when turning their head. Although many migrating and homing animals are sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field, most humans are not consciously aware of the geomagnetic stimuli that we encounter in everyday life. Perhaps we have lost a shared, ancestral magnetosensory system or did not fully evolve one. We appear to lack a conscious component to the detectable neural activity in our brains having no apparent perceptual awareness. Studies, looking at iron particles found in the brain using supersensitive magnetic sensors to read the brain's magnetic field, are investigating the possibility that receptor cells, containing crystals of magnetite, could register changes in magnetic fields and report this information to the brain. This suggests that it could be possible for information in one animal's brain to transmit information to another animal's brain via a magnetic field triggering action potentials which mimic the same thoughts and emotions in each brain. The video imagery of ‘Interference’ echoes the turning of the head in relation to a magnetic field, using a plastic model of a brain filmed rotating against a monitor screen that emits polarised light, using a polarising lens on the camera. This method reveals stress points, especially in injection-moulded plastic, with a kaleidoscope of colours known as birefringence. Cryptochrome, the protein molecule found in a birds eye that enables birds to 'see' the magnetic field is excited by polarised light. Polarisation can also reveal the existence and properties of magnetic fields in the space medium light has travelled through.  

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