top of page

Lottes & Li


Erin Lottes

- 4th Year Doctoral Student

- Neuroscience

- Georgia Tech


Xinhui Li

- Doctoral Student

- Bioengineering

- Georgia Tech

Butterfly Effect

Medium:  Multimedia


The work is derived from three original views of the brain (center column). Xinhui works in optimizing pre-processing of fMRI images so that data derived from fMRI can be compared and shared between labs and institutions. She and other collaborators from fMRI preprocessing software development teams have discovered that the existing fMRI preprocessing pipelines output different preprocessed results. Four of the pipelines have been used for this piece, and the resultant images are the first connections to the left and right of the center brains. The differences introduced through the different preprocessing pipelines can result in different final results when the data is analyzed. This could lead to different interpretations of results, and possibly even actions taken by clinicians in treatment of neural diseases and injury. Xinhui has thought about this butterfly effect often, and proposed that she and Erin create an art piece centered around that concept. As the viewer follows the threaded path between images, differences from the original become more and more pronounced. Erin manipulated each of the four preprocessed images for each brain slice through physical means. For some slices, she manipulated the printed image directly, rubbing them with acetone until the paper peeled. For other slices, she embroidered the preprocessed image to a piece of fabric before removing the printed paper. In the most time-consuming process, she traced each preprocessed image, then copied mirror image sketches onto linoleum to produce black prints on white paper. During each step of this last technique, the brain becomes subtly more and more changed, until it is completely different than the original. Even different prints of the same linoleum block produce unique images. Each image, becoming more and more distinct from the original, was pinned like a butterfly to the white foam board, and colored thread was used to connect the original to the final and to outline the resulting butterfly shape.

bottom of page