Battlestar Galaxidas

[O]n the second floor of the Gladstone Hotel, past the hanging fortune cookies and plush birds, a dark corner is illuminated by “#embodiment”, the creation of Ryerson New Media graduate Maria Galaxidas at Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche. As the night awoke, people were drawn like moths to the vibrant and intelligent design of Galaxidas’s first sculptural work.

Shaped like the left hemisphere of the human brain, “#embodiment” is a physical manifestation of the Twitter mindset. Galaxidas, who describes psychology as a passion and source of inspiration, created the piece in exploration of cyborg anthropology, which observes the changing relationship between technology and human beings. Through the shifting colours and lights, “#embodiment” demonstrates how the information intake of the human brain has changed as a result of modern technology.

“Psychology creates the piece,” Galaxidas said of the creative process. “It manifested on its own.”

The “human-cyborg” brain is inset with RGB LED lights and depicts the popularity of 17 key words associated with the four lobes of the brain. Every twelve seconds, the searched words reset into a new set of four words. The popularity of the key words is represented in the descending order of red, green, blue, and yellow across the sculpture. Galaxidas chose these colours because they would be distinct to the eye.

Clear LED lights set along the surface of the brain also portray the Twitter trends through varying brightness and patterns. The entirety of Twitter is measured in the piece, as opposed to Toronto-generated tweets alone. The colours reset once 300 tweets have been collected for one of the four lobes: occipital, parietal, frontal, and temporal.

As if six drafts and over 2000 hours of work wasn’t a challenge enough, Galaxidas was temporarily banned from Twitter. This occurred a few times throughout the stages of experimentation with the code used for the word searches. Some of the bans lasted as long as a week. This resulted in the current model, where the colours are updated once 300 tweets have been collected for one of the four lobes: occipital, parietal, frontal, and temporal. The search then resets.

“At times, it was a very emotional and physically-draining ambition, but I am more than thrilled [with] how it turned out,” she explained.

“#embodiment” drew many captivated onlookers such as James Tughan, a visual arts professor from Redeemer University.

“It’s very playful and it’s very complex at the same time,” said Tughan.

Galaxidas noted that the piece also holds great fascination among children, even if on a purely aesthetic basis. Throughout the night, many a child gazed at the sculpture, entranced and muttering an airy, delighted “cool!”

The piece was originally created for Galaxidas’s fourth-year thesis project, and was displayed in Ryerson’s New Media graduating show, Meta, which ran in March of this year.
Galaxidas arrived at the Gladstone Hotel at 5 p.m., and stood by her piece until 5 a.m., faithfully explaining the cognitive collective to the very minds who compose it.