We were making our way from Marble Arch to Bloomsbury on foot when we came across one thousand fluttering ‘pixels’, and for 100metres we found ourselves catching up with Nobel Laureates whilst surrounded by illusion and music. Quite extraordinary.
I’m not blessed with the gift of being able to hear music when I read it, in fact I cannot even read it these days but thanks to YouTube I have now enjoyed the sound of Bach’s creativity as well as the physical beauty of the score. And I thought you might like to listen to it too as you walk with me down the colonnade.
Walking east through the colonnade, as we were, your eye is drawn to the eleven Nobel Laureates smiling or frowning at you from above. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of them all even though I didn’t recognise any of them. Fortunately though there is a list both in the colonnade and here. Now can you match any faces with names? Click on the gallery to see them better. I have displayed my photographs in the order we walked which is the same order as the list of names.
Whilst my camera couldn’t stay away from the pixels; a digital romance I suspect! It was the street displays which caught the attention of our brains and in doing so we achieved the aim of the building owners and architects to ‘engage the public with the world of neuroscience research’. Not that I knew this was their aim at the time. However we did quickly realise that the series of five visual illusions demonstrate brilliantly how our brains process signals, they also are a great physical exercise. I found myself moving sideways, forwards and backwards to fully experience the illusions – the 100metres was turning into a proper Monday walk!
By now I am sure you are wondering who the building belongs to and also its purpose. We certainly were by the time we’d reached the end of the colonnade. It is the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, and is part of the University College London. Opened in May of this year by Nobel Laureate and Centre Director Professor John O’Keefe, the purpose built centre ‘brings together world-leading scientists to investigate how brain circuits process information to create the neural representations that guide behaviour‘. If you want to learn more about the centre and the illusions click here . The building as far as I can tell is not open to the public but as well as the colonnade art installations on Howland Street there is a ‘pocket park’ open to the public which has more neuroscience images. We unfortunately missed the garden as we didn’t know it was there until today, but as it was raining that was probably a good thing. If you visit the garden please do come back here and tell me all about it.
Update on Visiting – Public Engagement is important to the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre but mostly is provided via talks, research and school visits. For the rest of us we need to pop across to the Wellcome Collections building on Euston road which is open to the general public, and we have heard it is a superb place to visit – check it out here.