transforming neuroscience into art and narrative

Information Design . Digital Environment . Experience Strategy . UX . UI . System Design . Visual Language . Content Development . Motion/Animation . Physical Environment . Art Direction

The Brain Index is a interactive, multi-user digital installation at the Jerome L. Greene Science Center at Columbia University. Uniting art, science, electronic data, and information design, it invites visitors to consider the brain from a different perspective and to explore the current research of the neuroscientists working upstairs in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

The purpose of the installation is to engage the public, capture their imagination, encourage wonder, and reward curiosity by vividly communicating the complexities of the research and why it matters. Broadly accessible interactive storytelling unravels the work of individual researchers pushing the boundaries of neuroscience through combinations of illustration, laboratory simulations, information design, research artifacts, and narrative text.

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The multiscreen floor-to-ceiling experience flies the viewer through different large-scale visualization models of the brain while door-sized HD touch screens track, highlight, and visually detail the parts of the brain that relate to the research being introduced. At key moments in the choreography, the tracking screens descend to the lobby floor to allow visitors to engage directly with the interactive research-based stories, unravelling the complexities of cognition, sensory perception, decision making, learning and memory, addiction and reward, neural networks, and DNA sequencing.

The Brain Index was a complex collaborative project bringing together multiple disciplines including robotics, UX/UI design, architecture, 3D visualizations, illustration, software development, hardware and software development and integration. Working under the project leadership of AV&C, my role was UX/UI, creative direction and design of interactive stories, illustration creative direction, information design and game design developed in collaboration with the scientists and content creators at the Zuckerman Institute.

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  • Agency Partner: AV&C, New York
  • Columbia University Partners: Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, Kelly Remole
  • Project Principal: David Bianciardi (AV&C)
  • Project Design Lead: Stephen Baker (AV&C)
  • Creative Director, Interactive Stories: Weston Bingham
  • Experience Strategy, UX Design: Stephen Baker, Weston Bingham
  • Brain Visualizations and Animation: Stephen Baker, Jacob Williams
  • UI Design: Weston Bingham, Stephen Baker
  • Illustrator: Fernando Volken Togni
  • Writers: Columbia University
  • Architecture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop