Received Offspring - My Two Memory Generators

Individuals with Down's syndrome are not fully able to execute the usual actions associated with the hippocampus. However, the effects of mental retardation vary with individuals across the condition. It is suggested this process is hampered by the extra third chromosome alongside the usual pairing of chromosomes situated on Chromosome 21. The extra third chromosome has some extra 300 genes, from which are produced extra proteins resulting in garbled messages sent on to the following neurons and then onto the hippocampi.

My Two Memory Stores, displays as with many previous works of the artist, the recognisable format of figure sculpture and yoke-like wooden apparatus. Here the wooden yoke-like apparatus will serve to illustrate the two hippocampi, found either side of the brain. These two identical hippocampi, may be responsible for absorbing information and forming memories.

The hippocampus seen from the side of the head, has a curved shape and was thought to resemble that of a sea horse, hence the Greek name Hippocampus: The term was given to the organ by the anatomist Giulio Cesare Aranzi (circa 1564). It is thought that within this region a problem occurs with the absorption of information from the eyes and ears to the formation of memories. The artist has decided to feature the hippocampus in the wooden yoke-like apparatus as a shallow diagonal feature and seen in section as a vertical slice taken from a hippocampus. This illustrates the three neurons of the brain circuit in the hippocampus region. Two further features, representing the two hippocampi, resembling more a simplified image of a sea horse than the actual human organ in the brain, will be seen either side of the figure subject within the frame of the larger diagonal feature of the hippocampus.

This piece offers viewers of the works an introduction into the possible reasons for mental retardation in individuals with the condition and to learn something of current the research currently taking place at the New Centre for Down's Syndrome, Stanford University. The research team at Stamford University is led by Professor William Mobley and has the aim to correct this malfunction through medication. The figure sculpture shows the arms raised supporting the apparatus above his head, whilst also revealing the characteristic palm crease in each hand as noted in Two Palm Creases.

The subject also observes the viewer with a mix initially trepidation, curiosity and confidence (the latter two elements appear moreso in evidence). As though the viewer may have some fore knowledge of his condition. Research into mental retardation peculiar to the condition may eventually result in the removal of this characteristic of the condition, possibly well before the physical aspects of the condition. George may be one of the last of a generation with Down's syndrome, having the full spectrum of the condition. Those individuals with Down's syndrome may have increased mental abilities by correction before birth or subsequently. Consequently, they may become aware of their differing physical or mental qualities to those of general appearance and ability. The eventual removal of this condition, although a considerable way into the future, will lessen the diverse character of peoples who share perceived abnormalities within our society. It is a sobering prospect and will also mean a 'loss' to the human character across the species, which may not be all good; put simply, those of us with general abilities and appearance learn considerably from lesser able members of society and promotes the ability of understanding from one individual to another and across societies.

Photos of George and the work from 2007

The yoke-like apparatus accompanying the sculpture - drawings, sketches, prints

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Drawing of the hippocampus. More information on Wikipedia.

Hippocampus Drawing after Caja, 15/16 August 2006. Pen and ink sketch

Detail from preceding sketch, Fig: 2. Illustration of a synapse - the meeting of the dendrite and axon in a neuron (nerve cell)

Hippocampus Drawing after Caja, 21 August 2006. Pen and ink

Various pen and ink sketches, showing proposed yoke-like timber apparatus illustrating the hippocampus and subject stood within. Front elevation. 22 August 2006

Pen and ink sketch, showing proposed yoke-like timber apparatus illustrating the hippocampus and subject stood within. Front elevation. 14 August 2006

Pen and ink sketch (detail), showing proposed yoke-like timber apparatus illustrating the hippocampus and subject stood within. Front elevation. 21 August 2006.

Pen and ink sketch (detail), showing proposed yoke-like timber apparatus illustrating the hippocampus and subject stood within. Plan view. 22 August 2006.