Daniel Berlinsky

What is a territory that humans measure? What are humans defined by? These questions made me turn to examine how the brain operates. I was deeply fascinated by the frightening brain surgery of the past, the lobotomy. The creation of the lobotomy may potentially have been the most horrifying breakthrough of the human race: it deals with cutting out a section of the frontal lobe and essentially removes a person’s personality, leaving them “a shell of their former self.” In this project, I aimed to capture the division and individual importance of every section of the brain.

The idea of this project is twofold. The human brain is divided into many distinct territories that are each responsible for specific operations (perception of sight, sound, thoughts, cognitive ability, consistent range of heartbeat, etc). I created a brain model out of fruit, with each fruit representing a different lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe (a sliced apple), the occipital lobe (grapes), the temporal lobe (oranges), and the parietal lobe (blueberries). As the video/“surgery” continues, each section of the brain is damaged by the “surgeon’s tools”: the pills (M&M’s) the needles (toothpicks), the hammer, and finally the infamous ice pick (screwdriver) that is associated with the lobotomy. This leads to the video and audio becoming completely distorted and invokes hallucinations.

The second idea of the project is the territory/boundary between humans and zombies. When does an organism lose its privilege to call itself advanced? What happens when you “turn off” a person’s brain?” This is a complex question, but my personal answer is that a human only becomes lesser once it loses its personality. Therefore, it is only in the finale of the video, when the frontal lobe is cut, that a human devolves into an ape. In the end, the operation is complete, and the skull is reattached, and the subject returns to live out the remainder of their days in society.