Key of Life

Scheltema Contemporary Gallery, Leiden

In Key of Life Susan Aldworth presents 3 bodies of work – TransitionCogito Ergo Sum 3 and Brainscapes – all of which explore questions of identity. Who am I for myself and others? And what extent can a brain scan visualize “me” or “you” by highlighting a single moment of mental activity? On the one hand we “are” our brains and in this respect brain – scans make ‘us’ publicly visible for ourselves and others but on the other hand we are many other things as well. These works explore interiority and exteriority and reconnect medical imagery with daily experience and the flow of time.

Traditionally, humans have been inextricably linked to concepts such as soul, consciousness and free will. But since technical developments such as MRI scans have enabled us to literally see between our ears, that picture has changed. In Key of Life, nostalgic ideas about who we are become shattered.

Brain scans are precise scientific photographs but they are incomplete records. They pose problems of interpretation, even for doctors. I became fascinated by their ambiguity: the gap between what they do show (the physical structure of the brain) and what they don’t – the self.