2012 Recap: Part I

The Neuro Bureau has been really busy over the past year and a half. I know our blog does not reflect this. Nor does our twitter feed. And I'm not sure how our facebook site is doing. But I do know that — like kids off at summer camp — the only reason we've not spent more time disseminating our activities through various easy-to-use social media outlets is because we've been having so much fun. We've been organizing art exhibitions and starting the Brainhack franchise and preprocessing data releases and trying to keep up our day jobs. But alas a time comes when we should reflect on our endeavors and shenanigans, and for me, that time is the four-day weekend surrounding Easter. (I did want to keep this a religion-free post, but I suppose there's someone up there we should be thankful to for the new website.) Which reminds me to announce that this blog resuscitation, and brand new website, is indeed thanks to a four-day weekend, and more importantly the impending launch of the 2013 Brain-Art Competition. But where better to start than with catching up to the present? Last we shared our activities on the blog, we were immersed in the art@HBM exhibition at the Human Brain Mapping conference in June of 2011. Keeping with the art theme, we also held a party at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, which felt almost disturbingly classy, and was made possible through the wonderful support of the Child Mind Institute. There was also our first Brain-Art Competition, and we released a whole lode of preprocessed data for the ADHD-200 competition. After an incident involving a white mustang, we were ready to convalesce for a period. The following year brought us to Beijing, where we pushed through the red tape — largely thanks to our tireless local curator, Manuela Lietti, and sponsorship by the Child Mind Institute — to again hold an art exhibition at the OHBM conference. Entering the Mind's I brought together pieces addressing themes of self, identity, and culture (elaborated in the catalogue essay). Two of our international artists, Shubigi Rao and Nathalie Regard, flew in for the exhibition and spent the week in dialogue with our research community. The exhibition was decidedly more conceptual than the previous year's, Neurocartographies, and managed to include several pieces that addressed brain themes in quite subtle ways: A video installation by Jeremy Shaw consisted of narrated portraits of individuals experiencing the hallucinogen DMT, while Shubigi Rao's installation engaged the audience in themes of scientific practice through a collection of artefacts from the life and work of S. Raoul (on exhibition now, if you happen to be in Singapore). I encourage you to check out the exhibition catalogue for a more thorough overview of the show. We also announced the winners of the 2012 Brain Art Competition, which turned out to be quite the challenge to wrap up in time using the local internet connection in Beijing. But rather than try to tell a two year-long story all at once, we'll come back to the details in Part II, which I'll tentatively title: "Birth of Brainhack".