The Upload

Antye Guenther

2019, Rotterdam, Nederland

In this work, animated visualizations of MRI brain scans are seen spinning, while a meditative hum invites you to ­follow the rotations, to relax and to merge into this mindful experience. What if this was your own brain data you were watching? What if you were told that this experience would enhance your brain performance? Would you allow yourself to relax into it? Would you believe it works, or that perhaps it would work only if you believed it?

Embedded in The Upload is the narrative of the ‘brain-self-observation’, a method originally developed by American intelligence agencies to influence and control brain activities. Mirroring the evolution of psychedelic drug application, can this technique, which has been ­labeled dubious, be taken seriously to improve our cognitive ­abilities and achieve greater self-optimization?

Online video:

Antye Guenther is a visual artist and artist researcher, born and raised in Eastern Germany. Drawing from her backgrounds in medicine, photography, and the military, her artistic practice explores themes like (non)biological intelligence and supercomputing, scientific representations of cognitive processes and mind control, body perception in techno-capitalist societies and science fiction. Her work comes in hybrid forms: performance lectures, ceramic objects, video tutorials, photo-text works, speculative scripts, artist publications, and various collaborations.

In collaboration with
Quantitative Imaging Group, Technische Universiteit Delft

Kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fonds

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Het kunstwerk door de ogen van:

Prof. dr. Meike Vernooij

Professor in Neuroradiology

“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” This quote, ascribed to physicist Emerson Pugh (around 1938), is still relevant to date. Unravelling the structure and function of the brain has intrigued neuroscientists for centuries and, though major insights have been gained over time, many intricate concepts remain elusive. Important scientific progress has been attributed to non-invasive methods such as imaging, and to link this information to cognitive performance or the onset of brain diseases. At Erasmus MC, neuroscientists use imaging to better understand the brain, but we are also piloting ways to feed this information back to patients, in order to help them understand their own brain as well as how they might prevent the development of disease.

View the floorplan of Science Gallery Rotterdam’s exhibition (UN)REAL


Adding dimensions to the real

An essay by William Myers

Lees essay