In the blink of an eye

Ellen Clegg, October 29th, 2010 | Filed under
  • Artwork by Bang Wong, Broad Institute

On the cover of Cell this week: Broad Creative Director Bang Wong makes a neural network look like artwork in order to illustrate a paper by Associate Member Alice Ting and Amar Thyagarajan, both at MIT. The paper reports on a method of imaging protein interactions and synapse activity in neurons, or nerve cells in the brain. (Called BLINC, or biotin labeling of intercellular contacts, it allows scientists to label and image activity in living neurons taken from laboratory rats.) Wong's cover concept was inspired by the delicate tracery of black, plastic Algues that grace one of the walls of his office here at the Broad. What's an Algue, you say? Created in 2004, Algues are an unconventional design developed by two French brothers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who have their own firm. Their work ranges from office furniture to jewelry and porcelain. One of their primary focuses is the design of interior space, and their website shows how Algues can offer a screen of privacy or a sense of artistic whimsy. Wong's Algues represent a deeper interior, with branches and touchpoints that represent intercellular connections.