Unfolding Clusters Exhibit

Today, I attended the Unfolding Clusters exhibit produced by Federico Vis and Giovanni Dothel in collaboration with Duncan Williams and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research from Plymouth University. The exhibit was a model of the ALS pathophysiology shown through music and visual media. It was held in the UCLA Art Science Center on the 5th floor in the same room we have visited in previous classes.

The model was 15 minutes long presenting the fascinating biomolecular processes of Amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common of the five motor neuron diseases, through music and immersive media. I found the display of the model to be especially unique and interesting. The room resembled the central and peripheral nervous systems. This was presented by placing speakers all throughout the room playing specialized music to give the audience an idea and experience of the onset and process of the disease.

Here is an image displaying how a normal, unaffected nerve cell looks like and how a ALS nerve cell looks like. 


This is a graph displaying the common symptoms that a person affected with the disease experiences. 


The motor neuron disease occurs by weakening the upper and lower neurons in the spinal cord, which results in paralysis followed by death just within 3-5 years of the disease onset. The major mechanism of the disease occurs by the aggregation of the proteins and deposit of the neurons, which sometimes occur in the form of gene mutations.  

The artists explained to me that each image and sound was produced according to a specific sequence level of the protein. The last few minutes of the model became a bit scary and sounded like a vampire horror movie. As I asked the artist was this part of the model represented, he further explained that that specific part of the model is the ending, which represents the clusters of the cells layering and the frequency becoming toxic.

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease and here is a quick video to give you a better idea of the disease. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOvvW8gbWSA