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Exhibition

Brain(s)

The human brain is the most complex object we know of and the one that raises most questions in the fields of both science and philosophy. Brain(s) looks at how, throughout history, art, science, and philosophy have studied and represented this fascinating organ.

The exhibition explores both the anatomy of the brain and everything that it generates: consciousness, abstract thinking, language, imagination, dreams and memory. “Brain(s)” also investigates other minds beyond the human: artificial, animal and collective intelligence, and brainless organisms.

Why do brains exist? Where does consciousness come from? And what about creativity? What happens when the mind gets ill? Is it possible to create smart machines? What can we learn from the collective intelligence of ants? “Brain(s)” explores these issues and many others by observing the rich landscape of cognition and its historical development, from natural systems to systems created by human beings. Setting out on a journey that combines historical, scientific and artistic material, and posing open questions to visitors, the exhibition challenges our understanding of conscious experience and looks at what can happen when that experience is interrupted or damaged.

Curated by physicist and biologist Ricard Solé and by Emily Sargent, curator of the Wellcome Collection, the exhibition presents some 300 pieces, including 17 contemporary immersive art installations and audiovisual works, pieces from historical collections and the results of projects of scientific research into the brain.

The exhibition combines the visions of contemporary artists such as Tomás Saraceno, Patrick Tresset, Ivana Franke, Daniel Alexander, Andrew Carnie, Christian Fogarolli, Greg Dunn, Laramascoto, Louise K Wilson, William Utermohlen, Shona Illingworth, Imogen Stidworthy, Joaquim Jordà, Aya Ben Ron, Roc Parés, Joan Fontcuberta, Stefan Kaegi and Xavi Bou, and comics and films. It also includes historical material such as original drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, period editions of Vesalius and René Descartes, the inventions and machinery of visionary scientists such as Leonardo Torres Quevedo and Lady Ada Lovelace, and scientific projects of leading scientific research institutes.

An extensive network of researchers, creators and thinkers are involved in the “Brain(s)” project, both in the exhibition and in developing a program of activities that includes a cycle of films, public debates and mediation workshops.

In addition, a selection of films related to the exhibition can be viewed on the Brain(s) channel on Filmin (available from 26 July to 11 December).

The CCCB’s exhibition draws on two independent shows, "Brains: The Mind as Matter" (2012) and "States of Mind: Tracing the Edges of Consciousness" (2016), held at London’s Wellcome Collection, co-producer of Brain(s) with the CCCB and Fundación Telefónica (Madrid).

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Programme of activities

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Under-18 tournament and simultaneous matches with chess Grandmaster Sabrina Vega

This is not a brain

Stem cell engineering to create human brain tissue organoids

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Algorithmic cultures

"The Manchurian Candidate" by John Frankenheimer

Screening and talk with Celia Andreu-Sánchez

Robert Kolker and Milagros Pérez Oliva

Strangers to themselves

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Daniele Mencarelli and Anna Ballbona

Between judgment and madness

Human Brain Project

A cartography of the brain

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