Environmental activist and #GreenFinance advocate Katie Kedward wrote a blogpost responding to the Narrating Plasticity exhibition. Here, she shows how the concept of plasticity poses important questions in relation to how we understand ecological crisis and the forms of intervention that are available to us. People often ask what plasticity has to do with plastic as a material – Katie’s post also offers fascinating answers to this!
“We have to remember that we can change because we will soon have to change whether we want to or not. The social brain, just like the rest of the planet in which it is embedded, is beginning to suffer from the biggest ecological trauma in civilised memory. Mitigating its potential impact will require a remodelling of how society currently functions. Leaving it too late will see us forced to react to the consequences, transfiguring humanity as we’ve ever known it.
The narratives we chose to navigate such transformations, as the Narrating Plasticity exhibition so poignantly demonstrated, are crucial to better understanding ourselves. Not only as biological beings and reflective individuals, but as a society too. It is my view that the stories Western societies currently employ to narrate environmental concerns are faulty and ineffective…”
Read the rest of Katie Kedward’s article
“ Plasticity, in general terms, is the quality of being easily malleable but able to hold a form once moulded, thus differentiating it from elasticity or fluidity. The material of plastic, my pet hate and current environmental scourge, gets its name from this very ability to be moulded into infinite different forms. Similarly pottery, ceramics and sculpture are known as the plastic arts.”
Following the exhibition at the King’s College London Anatomy Museum 2-3rd February, the Narrating Plasticity exhibition moved to the Inigo Rooms for another week of public display…
After the vast space of the Anatomy Museum, it was interesting seeing how the exhibition adapted to the very different space of the King’s College London Inigo Rooms. The exhibition itself had to become plastic, and find new forms and structures with which to tell its story…
The Inigo Rooms at the King’s College London Cultural Institute served as an apt dark crypt for Amanda Doidge’s disturbing mutating cups
The scientists’ own plastic creations was displayed alongside images of their trips to the ceramics workshop…
Thanks so much to everyone who left their comments and contact details in the comments book. We had reactions from artists, scientists, surgeons, environmental activists, therapists…. We are excited to continue the conversation with you all, and see where the Narrating Plasticity project leads in the future…
Theatre designer Isabelle Lacombe visits the exhibition whilst visiting London from Canada…
Isabelle has been a close friend of mine for years, but we are usually separated by the Atlantic Ocean. It was so special to be able to take her around the Narrating Plasticity exhibition in person, and hear her reactions to it. Isabelle is a theatre designer and prop maker, so it was fascinating to hear about what plasticity and plastic creation means to her on both a conceptual and practical level.
Professor Patrick French, who supervises my PhD thesis on plasticity in contemporary French thought and culture, comes to visit the exhibition…
The Narrating Plasticity project film was displayed in the Inigo Rooms cinema… here is professor Catherine Malabou lecturing about the neuroplastic brain and the epigenetic human. Malabou’s work on plasticity has influenced the project throughout, with Amanda Doidge and the neuroscientists reading key texts of hers. Malabou’s work is also largely the subject of my PhD thesis: “The Coming of Plasticity: Transforming Change in Contemporary French Thought, Literature and Film”
Because I clearly just couldn’t help myself…
And here I am with my own brain. These two scans were taken before and after my endoscopic third ventriculostomy in December 2015. The brain on the left hand side exhibits hydrocephalus, whereas the post-operative brain’s ventricular system looks thankfully a lot healthier! This photo was taken the day of my annual brain scan and check up, and my surgeon Mr Bassel Zebian called later in the day to tell me he had been engaging with the Narrating Plasticity project…
Dr Anna Kolliakou works at the Cultural Institute and the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at King’s College London. As Knowledge Exchange Associate, Anna has been the project advisor for Narrating Plasticity from the very beginning. I absolutely could not have done this without her imagination, enthusiasm, support (both practical and emotional), and her brute dynamism when it comes to dealing with emails. Anna, thank you so much.
Over Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd February, we welcomed over 300 visitors to the Narrating Plasticity exhibition at King’s College London!
On Friday, visitors attended the exhibition for a drinks reception, a premier of the
project film , and a Q&A with project coordinator Benjamin Dalton and collaborators Amanda Doidge and Dr Sandrine Thuret’s team of neuroplasticity researchers from the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute.
Visitors represented a diverse range of backgrounds, from philosophy, French studies, the arts, medicine, education, politics, and many other areas. This lead to such fertile discussion across boundaries, with a huge range of different reactions to the project and ideas for future collaboration!
Do not hesitate to get in touch with coordinator Benjamin Dalton if you have any reactions or photographs to share, or if you have ideas for how Narrating Plasticity could develop further into the future!
Gathering around for the Q&A with ceramicist Amanda Doidge, project leader Benjamin Dalton, and Alish Palmos, Curie Kim, Chiara De Lucia, Demelza Smeeth and Andrea Du Preez of Dr Sandrine Thuret’s team from the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute following the premier of the project film! Questions from the audience were diverse and challenging, including questions about the future of arts and science collaboration, how neuroplasticity might be used and understood in education, and the ethics of neuro diversity!
Visitors watch the Narrating Plasticity project film for the first time before the Q&A!
Collaborator and ceramicist Amanda Doidge with project coordinator Benjamin Dalton welcoming everyone to the exhibition
Mid Q&A (left to right) ceramicist and collaborator Amanda Doidge, project coordinator Benjamin Dalton, and Alish Palmos, Curie Kim, Chiara De Lucia and Andrea Du Preez of Dr Sandrine Thuret’s neuroplasticity research team from the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute
The space of the King’s College Anatomy Museum allowed for fertile discussion between people from a range of different disciplines and interests…
The exhibition told the story of the project in various stages, with a project diary, ceramic work by the scientists, moving image installations, a book for visitors to record their own reactions, and Amanda Doidge’s incredible ceramic reactions to the project…
Molecular biologist Charlotte Mykura joins the discussion…
Architect Thomas Grove
Child play therapy researcher Claire Neven
(left to right) Dorianne Zerka, project coordinator Benjamin Dalton, Aida Baghernejad and Isabelle Blomfield, who appears in the Narrating Plasticity project film
Social historian and Economist writer Susannah Savage
Martijn Buijs (left) with Knowledge Exchange Associate Adina Stroia from the Cultural Institute at King’s
(left to right) Isabelle Blomfield, Christina Johnson, Jennifer Dhingra, Benjamin Dalton and Erik Pazos
NHS healthcare professional Jacob Etheridge
Jennifer Dhingra, medic and advocate for sexual health education, who gives an interview on the plasticity of sex and gender identity in the Narrating Plasticity project film
Kate Foster, 19th Century French literature researcher at King’s College London
Environmental activist and anti-plastics campaigner Katie Kedward with Tom Wheeler
Adam Spratley, graphic designer for Narrating Plasticity
Ceramicist Amanda Doidge and project leader Benjamin Dalton
Visions in red
Researcher in political theory Artin Amjady
The Narrating Plasticity press wall, with posters designed by the project’s graphic designer Adam Spratley
Neuroscience researcher Aran Batth
Financial advisor William Rees studies one of the more peculiar exhibits
Project leader Benjamin Dalton with artist Ailsa Chaff (left) and television presenter, producer and writer Sannah Salameh (right)
Researcher in Spanish and Latin American studies Vincent Nadeau
‘Be your own muse’
We are so excited to share the Narrating Plasticity project film with you!
We made a film about the Narrating Plasticity project with filmmaker Sam Plommer and which premiered at the Narrating Plasticity exhibition launch at the King’s College London anatomy museum on 2nd February 2018!
So many thanks to everyone involved, and hope you enjoy it! Feel free to get in touch with your reactions and comments!
The day that ceramicist Amanda Doidge and philosophy researcher Benjamin Dalton stepped foot in the laboratory of the Maurice Wohl Neuroscience Institute
Many conversations were had when Amanda and I spent the afternoon with Dr Sandrine’s team of neuroplasticity researchers at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute. Questions ranged from the scientific to the personal, from the artistic to the political. We looked down microscopes, studied images of neurogenesis, observed stem cell cultures, and talked ceramics.
How do scientists measure plasticity?
What does the concept of “form” mean to science?
Why does life have to take “form”? Is life possible without “form”?
Does (neuro)plasticity only ever describe healthy, helpful processes of evolution and development, or can “bad”, pathological processes also be described as “plastic”?
Ceramicist Amanda Doidge is shown around the lab at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute by neuroplasticity researchers Demelza Streeth, Curie Kim, Andrea Du Perez and Chiara De Lucia
Amanda looking at stem cells through a microscope. Amanda was interested in what forms were produced by the stem cells, and we had many conversations with the scientists about what “form” means from a scientific perspective. In terms of the brain, synaptic “form” is plastic because synapses can rewire and create different networks: so what is the different between the network and the form? Can a network also be a form?
Neurogenesis in action: what forms are produced by neuronetworks? Amanda was also fascinated but the colours used by the scientists to differentiate between different types of cells at different stages in their life cycles…
Amanda and I talked a lot to the neuroscientists about the lifecycles of a cell, and how different cells come together in the brain to make forms. One question that kept coming up was: if the scientists are measuring neuroplasticity in terms of the rate of neurogenesis – how many new neurons are being produced at anyone time – how does this fit in with the bigger thinking of plasticity? How does a researcher go from the zoomed-in picture of neurogenesis to thinking about the overall plasticity of the brain on a much larger scale?
What is neural form? Neuroscientists talk about plasticity in terms of neurogenesis, and the changing of connections and networks in the brain. How can we think of forms and networks at the same time?
The scientists always seemed taken back by how beautiful we found the images of the nascent neurons. Amanda was particularly interested by how the dying cells were colour-coded differently from the living cells, asking exactly what the difference was between these two types of cell and how the dying cells contributed to ongoing “healthy” processes of neuroplasticity. We learned that apoptosis is the process by which cells die in a health and “planned” manner, to make way for new cells or to sculpt forms, “pruning” away unwanted material the way a gardener might prune a bush. Necrosis, on the other hand, is when cells die chaotically and in an unplanned manner, which can cause a lot of problems. It is a very fine balance between the two processes.
Squadgoals. (From let to right) Amanda Doidge, Curie Kim, Chiara De Lucia, Andrea Du Preez, Demelza Streeth and Benjamin Dalton
Project leader Benjamin Dalton regroups with filmmaker Sam Plommer for day 2 of the Narrating Plasticity project film shoot
Filmmaker Sam Plommer sets up the camera at the Francis Crick Institute for our interview with neurogenesis researcher Isabelle Blomfield
Filmmaker Sam Plommer interviews neurogenesis researcher Isabelle Blomfield at the Francis Crick Institute, and we discuss arts and science collaboration and the future of neuroplasticity research
Neurogenesis researcher Isabelle Blomfield talks to us about her work on neuroplasticity, arts and science collaboration, and the future of plasticity research
Discussion becomes passionate on the set of Narrating Plasticity The Movie
Neurogenesis researcher Isabelle Blomfield gets ready for her close-up at the Francis Crick Institute
Medic and Sexual Health Educator Jennifer Dhingra talks to us about the plasticity of sex and gender identities in relation to health care
Medic and Sexual Health Educator Jennifer Dhingra talks to us about her time working for the charity Sexpression, and about how health care is coming up with new ways to communicate the plasticity of sex and gender identity
Medic and sexual health educator Jennifer Dhingra spoke about her own reactions to the Narrating Plasticity project, talking about how the ways in which we live and express sex and gender identities is more plastic than ever
Snow falls on Amanda Doidge’s ceramics workshop in Walthamstow
Project leader Benjamin Dalton with friend and colleague filmmaker Sam Plommer on the set of the Narrating Plasticity project film at the ceramicist Amanda Doidge’s workshop in Walthamstow
Project leader Benjamin Dalton and filmmaker Sam Plommer have a history of collaboration. Benjamin acted in Sam’s queer short film “Seeing Each Other” (2017), whilst Sam is shooting, directing, and editing the Narrating Plasticity project film. Sam is also the writer, director and editor of his own queer web series: Sorry Not Interested. Catch it on Youtube.
standing on Walthamstow on the kitchen floor in Walthamstow
Filmmaker Sam Plommer and ceramicist Amanda Doidge prepare to film outside in the snow
Filmmaker Sam Plommer braving the bog
Ceramicist and project collaborator Amanda Doidge talks to us about her own brand of “destructive plasticity”, and her art work “Kill or Cure”
Interviewing ceramicist and project collaborator Amanda Doidge in her art studio in Walthamstow, London.
Project leader Benjamin Dalton, ceramicist Amanda Doidge, and filmmaker Sam Plommer in Amanda’s ceramics studio in Walthamstow
Amanda Doidge talks us through her preparations for the upcoming Narrating Plasticity exhibition launch on the 2nd February, whilst drying one of her pots with a hairdryer
Filming ceramicist Amanda Doidge at work through her window: the ceramicist in situ
Storying away the finished cups for the Narrating Plasticity project exhibition!
The cups get ready for their close-up
Setting up for more interviews in front of this incredible plant collection
Filmmaker Sam Plommer readying himself for the final interviews of the Narrating Plasticity project film
Ceramicist and project collaborator Amanda Doidge talks to us about her work, plasticity, and how the project has gone
Ceramicist and project collaborator Amanda Doidge reflects back on the Narrating Plasticity project and looks forward to the upcoming exhibition and considers what the future of arts/science collaboration in plasticity research might be…
Some finished “exploding cups” ready to be stored away for the Narrating Plasticity exhibition 2-3rd February at the King’s College Anatomy Museum
Something strange this way comes – catch all of this and more at the Narrating Plasticity exhibition on 2-3rd February in the King’s College London Anatomy Museum
Register on the Eventbrite here
And on the Facebook even page here