Mind the Synaptic Gap
Materials: bicycle tubes + valves, holographic vinyl, spray foam, interior electronics
Mind the Synaptic Gap is a joy monster, a personification of depression who, like the serotonin that dictates our moods, is fickle and enticing. This creature has a multi-faceted head inspired by the microscopic, crystalline structures of Serotonin. Iridescent vinyl covers carved, sharp facets, with dangling threads reaching out into the void. The wriggling body, made from 350 recycled bicycle inner tubes, mimics the winding structures of dendrites, the pathways along which neural synapses travel in the brain. Both ridiculous and intimidating, the synaptic monster unpredictably swaps between happiness and sadness without warning.
Mind the Synaptic Gap is inspired by my struggles with depression and serotonin regulation. For the past decade I have dealt with anxiety and depression, and have often marveled at how deeply altered my moods can become simply because of one tiny compound that circulates through my body and brain.
My moods can move, shift, and change at a moment’s notice, like beams of sunshine momentarily breaking through clouds as they move across the sky. Sometimes I can barely get out of bed, other times I am utterly invincible. Moods can be unpredictable, they can be unrelenting, they can be triumphant, they can be monstrous. I chose the Under the Microscope category so that I could delve deeper into the ideas behind moods and depression and bring to life a creature who was inspired by serotonin, one of the main chemicals that is responsible for our emotions, sleep, appetite, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions.
The head of my creature is inspired by microscopic images of serotonin. The photos are psychedelic and crystalline, showing off every color of the rainbow in tiny, perfect facets. I was hypnotized by the beauty of a chemical that so deeply defines and affects our moods and I found it incredible that such a tiny thing could change the way I see and move through life every day. I used varying colors of iridescent vinyl to make the sharp facets of the headpiece. The body of the creature is made entirely from over 350 recycled bicycle tubes that have been cut by hand into long, narrow strips of fringe. The long, dangling tendrils of bike tubes move and sway, and they share visual language with dendrites, the neural pathways in our brains that transmit data and accept or deny compounds like serotonin.
I first discovered this bike tube fringe process when making the hat for my last WOW piece, “Refuse Refuge”, and I thought it would be stunning and otherworldly to make an entire suit out of this tube fringe. I had a gigantic pile of tubes sitting on my back porch after I finished last year’s piece, and the day I got back from seeing WOW in New Zealand I started cleaning and cutting them up to begin this year’s garment.
Mind the Synaptic Gap is my joy monster, a physical embodiment of the struggle that many of us have with depression. It is an unpredictable creature that can go from silly and hyper one minute to lackadaisical and aloof the next. You never know how it will behave or what it will do, and yet somehow it is always present.
This outfit was the winner of the Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award and at World of WearableArt in Wellington, NZ in 2018.