Somabook (2010-2011)

A collaboration between Jill Scott and Prof. Dr. Esther Stoeckli at the Institute of Molecular Science, University of Zurich.

The average public leaves the media sculpture of “Somabook” having experienced some understanding about the complexity and wonder of the development of neuronal circuits in the human body. The sculpture itself is based on a scaled-up model of our own neural tube or spinal cord and through interaction; the viewers can discover how the network for incoming sensory perception and outgoing motor coordination has been developed. As can be shown by neurobiologists, before we are born, thousands of molecules work with proteins to guide our axons to grow from this central neural system into the correlating locations so that we can feel, smell, taste, hear, see and move normally. This embryonic development is best studied inside fertilized chicken eggs, using what is called “an open book” method of dissection and there it can be shown that inappropriate connections and influences not only result in loss of functions, causing various problems in growth patterns, movement and coordination, but also distortions of perception. Axons also transmit neural information through the spinal cord into the cerebellum and are projected from there into the somatic and motor cortexes of the brain. Here five overlapping representational maps help us to function and be embodied in our environment. (A) Texture, (B) Shape and Size, (C) Stretch, (D) Translation and (E) Correlation. Therefore, through the use of touch screens, the viewers can access each one of these layers, in order to learn more about molecular and neural research in a novel way.


Download Brochure (PDF)


Nikolaus Völzow

Visual Effects
Philippe Kipper, Annette Busch, Andrew Quinn

Marille Hahne, Corinne Hodel, Beat Schlaepfer

Scientific Consultants
Tobias Alther, Bettina Baumann, Jeannine Frei, Nicole Wilson and Livia Weber from the Institute of Molecular Science


SOMABOOK - art and neural development from Jillian Scott.