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Sensation: Interior View, 2006, Quark Park Sculpture Garden, Princeton, NJ

Sensation: Interior View by Nancy Cohen, Jim Sturm, Shirley Tilghman, A.R. Willey Sculpture: 12 x 11 x 5 feet. Steel, Resin, Wire and Electroluminescent Wires.

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Sensation: Interior View (2006) is an abstract sculpture by Jersey City artist Nancy Cohen that was inspired by discussions with Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman. Tilghman, a leader in the field of molecular biology, collaborated with Cohen and Princeton University Electrical Engineering Professor James Sturm on the artwork, which is an abstraction about the sense of smell and how odors are recognized and remembered. . Multi-colored cast resin discs are affixed to a steel armature forming a wall that connects to bulb-shaped structures by vibrant wires. The different colors of discs represent the sensor neurons in the nose that detect different odorant molecules; the wires represent the axonal connections that pass through the skull to the olfactory bulb in the brain, with the neurons from each type of sensor going to their own specific region in the olfactory bulb. Since Tilghman and Cohen wanted the sculpture to be experienced over time and animated in an unexpected way - prompting the viewer to experience the sense of an organic occurrence - Sturm and students from his lab engineered and fabricated electroluminescent wire elements that light up to simulated the neurons. Each color of wire is meant to represent the response to a different odor. The sculpture will be experienced differently depending on lighting conditions. In bright light the translucent discs and colored wires reflect the sun, as the atmosphere darkens ripples of colored light will be evident traveling back from the wall of randomly arranged discs to the bulbs filled with sorted colors (evoking the neural signal from sensor to the brain). In darkness the moving lights are dramatic and seemingly alive.

Based on articles published in Symmetry magazine, October, 2006, and the PPPL News, Fall, 2006