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Royal Hospital Kilmainham
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The Wernicke’s Area is a multi-media work that responds to the medical condition of Debbie Boss (Owen Boss’s wife) and explores the neurological conditions of seizures and the brain, via an immersive installation comprising sound, textiles, and documentary performance.

To introduce the creative and scientific processes that inform key ideas of the work join the artist Owen Boss and Neurophysiologist Mark Cunningham who discuss their interdisciplinary research and collaboration. Their conversation will shed light on the involvement of other key partners across the art and science community, that includes a new music composition by Emily Howard (Director of PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester), commissioned textiles pieces and a live performance recorded over the opening weekend, all of which are central to the installation.

About Speakers

Owen Boss, ANU’s co-artistic director and visual artist.
Established in 2009, ANU is led by Theatre Director and film-maker Louise Lowe, Visual Artist and designer Owen Boss, Creative Producer Lynnette Moran and Producer Matthew Smyth. Projects include the live-streamed The Party to End All Parties, Dublin Theatre Festival, 2020; multi award-nominated and critically acclaimed Faultline, Co-production with the Gate Theatre and the Irish Queer Archive for Dublin Theatre Festival, 2019; Scrapefoot, The Ark, 2019; The Anvil, Manchester International Festival, 2019; Intersection, The Lab, 2019; and Beyond These Rooms, TATE Exchange, TATE Liverpool, 2019; Book of Names, Dublin Theatre Festival, 2021 and The Secret Space, Project Art Centre, 2021.

Mark Cunningham, Professor, TCD
Professor Mark Cunningham is the Ellen Mayston Bates Professor of Neurophysiology of Epilepsy in the Discipline of Physiology (School of Medicine) at Trinity College Dublin. Professor Cunningham began his scientific career at Queen’s University Belfast where he took Physiology as an undergraduate degree. He obtained his PhD in Physiology from the University of Bristol examining how synaptic function is impacted by various anti-seizure medications. He has held research positions at Bristol University, University of Leeds, Heidelberg University and Newcastle University. Professor Cunningham’s current research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland Frontiers for the Future programme and aims to explore novel gene therapy approaches for the treatment of brain tumour related epilepsy.

About Artwork

The Wernicke’s Area
This project by ANU is the result of a yearlong IMMA residency. Known as the Wernicke’s Area of the brain named after German neurologist Carl Wernicke who first described the area in 1874. This part of the brain is involved with written and spoken word comprehension. When patients suffer seizures, the symptoms manifest as audio hallucinations and aphasia, (a loss of comprehension of both heard and spoken words). As a trained soprano, Debbie can no longer remember the lyrics to even the simplest of songs. Indebted to understand the cause and impact of his wife’s seizures – Boss undertook ‘A Rapid Residency’ with the Dublin Science Museum in 2020, linking the artist with neurophysiologist Prof. Mark Cunningham of Trinity College, Dublin, their collaborative research went on to shape the artwork.

Research for the project has seen key partnerships evolve across the science and arts community. A Rapid Residency received through the Dublin Science Museum in 2020 linked Boss with neurophysiologist Prof. Mark Cunningham of Trinity College, Dublin and their collaborative research has shaped the artwork. An evolving partnership with Emily Howard, Director of PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, has led to the extensive use of PRiSM’s AI technology in the development of music for The Wernicke’s Area. Click here for further information.