Neurological Institute / CANCER HAS STRUCTURE
LED installation created for the Montreal Neurological Institute during the A Brilliant Night fundraising event.
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care, founded by Dr. Wilder Penfield in 1934. This installation served as the education portion of the A Brilliant Night fundraising event, which raised 1.2 million dollars to help the MNI continue their groundbreaking research.
The MNI has been on a year’s long journey researching stem cells and their potential to help cure cancer. Recently, they made a major medical breakthrough and discovered that cancer has structure. Meaning that at the highest level of creation, this disease appears highly structured; in its earliest form, cancer is not a purely chaotic entity. This discovery sheds new light on how cancer starts and develops.
To commemorate this discovery, three monolithic pillars were commissioned by the MNI. Each pillar represents key moments in cell division and showcases the developmental structure of stem cells in the brain. The installation served as a visual guide to help researchers explain the science to benefactors.
I lead the creation of this piece. Below is the text displayed alongside the installation…
Since cancer is a mutation, this disease can take many forms, develop abnormally and spread quickly, which is why we often think of cancer as purely chaotic. This research suggests that there is in fact order amongst the chaos, but only at the highest level of creation –when stem cells first appear.
To reach this conclusion, the MNI had to collect data from millions of cells found in tumours through a procedure known as single cell RNA sequencing; a technique that reveals every action that a cell performs, by piecing together its genetic makeup.
Through a series of handmade LED panels, this installation showcases three pivotal moments in cell division. Each panel is split into two equal halves, with the left side showcasing normal cell development, in contrast with cancer cell development on the right. Each LED maps the journey of a cell, where the first two animations are highly ordered and the third is highly randomized. The animation begins at the top of Pillar 01 and cascades down each pillar in sequential order like a waterfall.
Pillar 01 stands at 6ft with each subsequent pillar growing in stature and cell (LED) count. Pillar 03 stands at a towering 12ft tall, representing the great challenge that researchers had to overcome in order to make this discovery.
BEHIND THE SCENES
GIFs, GIFs and more GIFs at every step of the way!
Big thank you to the Montreal Neurological Institute and the A Brilliant Night Foundation for inviting me to help commemorate this amazing discovery. Shout out to the crew at Machine D.A. for their incredible work on the structures!
Client: Montreal Neurological Institute
Chief Researchist: Dr. Kevin Petrecca
Research Associate & Advisor: Charles Couturier, MD, BSc
Producers: Heidi Small, Wendy Sculnick
Concept, Art Direction: George Simeo
Animation, LED Mapping: George Simeo
Technical Director: Daniel Freder
Typography & Technical Design: Thomas B. Martin
Design Firm: Machine D.A.
CNC Production: Zenit Boards
Videographer: Jon Yu
Event Lighting, Design & Tech: Total Events & Entertainment