Maryam Zaringhalam, a Ph.D. candidate at Rockefeller, spends the majority of her time in a lab, studying the molecular biology of yeast. But in her day-to-day social life, she surrounds herself with artists, musicians, and other creatives.  She started the blog, Artlab, to bridge the gap between the two worlds that she often found herself straddling– the artificially disparate realms of art and science.

The goal of the blog is to allow each field to inform and complicate the other, fostering a community of interaction; the posts cover everything from Anosmia (the inability to smell) to 3D printing and the “musification” of brain waves.

Maryam Zaringhalam, founder of Artlab, discusses the blog's mission at the first series event in Williamsburg

Artlab eventually grew into an event series that pairs artists with scientists to spark collaboration and conversation between these two traditionally separate fields. The series was launched in December 2012, as Maryam explains, “in part, as an experiment in science communication– using art as a lens to focus a conversation about science.”


On Tuesday (12/10) Artlab will host a discussion on film and the unconscious between two individuals whose paths might not naturally cross– cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Heather Berlin, and local filmmaker, Alexandra Stergiou.

Berlin uses neuroimaging techniques in her research at Mount Sinai, in an effort to improve treatment for impulse and compulsive psychiatric disorders.  She has also worked with filmmakers in developing science-based stories through the Sloan Foundation. Stergiou is a Greenpoint-based director and cinematographer– her most recent short film, Soothsayer, deals with memory and the visual unconscious.

Maryam will moderate the conversation and encourage audience participation, exploring what happens to our brains while we watch movies. The event brings up some interesting questions– What is the neuroscience behind some of filmmaking’s tricks and how can filmmakers appeal to the unconscious or strike a mood or evoke emotion?

“For me, art has the power to cut to the heart of even the most complicated problems, to squeeze out meaning and share it to anyone who will stop to look or listen,” Maryam writes in Artlab’s mission statement. “This blog and the series are my (hopefully not-so-feeble) attempt to make science less scary and more accessible…above all, to illuminate the art in science and bring science to art.”

The discussion will take place at 7:30pm at The West (379) Union Ave. RSVP here and follow Artlab on Facebook and Twitter for future updates.  The event is free and open to the public.

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