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Michaela Nettell
photo of Michaela


Pattern Completion is an installation created by an artist, a sound designer and a neuroscientist exploring ways in which networks of brain cells recall memories.

When a memory is created activity patterns in the neurons become inscribed in their connections, leaving a trace known as an engram. It is thought that during recall this trace is restored and the original activity pattern re-established. This process is known as 'pattern completion' and is believed to occur in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. During the pattern completion process the initial activity of the cells is incoherent, but via repeated reactivation the activity pattern is pieced together until the original pattern is complete. Sometimes it fails, leaving us unable to bring elements of the past to mind.

Our installation echoes this process using sound recordings and photographic sequences captured in forests. The sequences are fragmented, shuffled and projected into constellations of suspended glass spheres. The forest scenes, based on pathways, clearings and walking are purposefully empty of people and objects. The images and sounds provide cues for viewers to complete, or interpret, these landscapes with recollections of their own.

The complex nature of memory, the ambiguities between remembered and imaged places, the ephemeral quality of our memories and the ways we use our memories to define ourselves are themes that underpin our installation.
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