Biological Empathy

This work was created for a group exhibition with Artnauts, “an artist collective that uses the visual arts as a tool for addressing global issues while connecting with artists from around the world”. This work was exhibited in Croatia at the European House in Zagreb and the theme was Connections. The silver point drawing of pyramidal cells found in the cerebral cortex are depictions of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are central to the learning process allowing humans to mimic the actions and intentions of others. This ability to read the emotions and actions of others is what prompts our ability and capacity to develop empathetic responses. The discovery of mirror neurons suggests that the human capacity for empathy is not just learned but is also biological. The use of silver point to draw the pyramidal cells mimics the process used in science to stain cells so that they can be studied. This technique is called the Golgi method, which uses silver nitrate to stain cells so that their complex interconnected structure can be studied. The use of paper embossing to create a ghost mirror image of the silver point drawing references the action of mirror neurons to commutate and reflect back intentions and actions. The use of paper embossing gives dimension to the silver point drawing thus altering the image. This action of altering and mirroring the original drawing is an attempt to recognize that the observation of actions and emotions is influenced by the mindset of the observer.