I worked at this project in collaboration with King's College London and St Thomas' Hospital.
A research group from the Perinatal Imaging and Health Department, King's College London, is investigating brain plasticity in children who were born very preterm (http://pretermresearch.org/). Many families have been involved in the study and 8 years old children have been asked to have a developmental assessment and an MRI scan.
Having a MRI scan is not an easy experience: the scanner is loud, it makes strange sounds, and participants have to lie still in a very small tunnel for nearly an hour while wearing a little helmet called coil.
A big work has to be done to make the experience pleasant for the children and to assure a good quality of the images.
In order to do this, researchers like Anita Montagna have developed a little training to prepare children prior to having an MRI scan. This includes the use of an inflatable MRI scanner where children can play before the real session (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/newsevents/newsrecords/2015/jan/Inflatable-MRI-Scanner.aspx).
The training aims at familiarizing children with the scanner experience and the entire session is structured as a spaceship adventure.
As part of the training, children need to get used to the scanner sounds. In order to do this, perceptual desensitisation strategies are used and I was asked to develop a MUSICAL TOY to help children get used to the sounds in a fun, creative and interactive way.
I built a DJ console which allows children to create a song using the sounds of the real MRI sequences used in the study.
After having an MRI scan myself, I had the chance to sample the MRI sounds. I also composed a song about MRI using the same sounds.
The week before the scanning session, children are invited to listen to the song and to learn more about what MRI is and how it works. On the day of the scan, they sing the song with the trainer and create their own song with the console while learning the different sounds of the sequences and getting used to loud volumes.
The song (obviously called "MRI") and the lyrics will be uploaded on the research website very soon allowing families to have an easier access to the training material.
At the moment 20 scans have been successfully done with very positive feedback from children, parents and the research team.
An App will be realised soon.
Microbial Fuel Cells are a completely sustainable and reusable alternative energy source, it is a bio-electrochemical system that drives a current by using bacteria that (in this case) are living in the soil under a plant's roots.
MFCs are a great technology that at the moment is unfortunately still not fully implemented in our daily lives.
In order to make this technology more popular, familiar and friendly, I designed a Kit and a tutorial to create a performing Microbial Fuel Cell with products that we could find in our houses (or in the local hardware shop), for less that 5£. Most of the ingredients are products which we use every day: plants, lemon, baking powder, mushrooms, eggs and toilet paper.
As a proof of concept I involved my local community of friends and neighbours to create an installation in the local green space in front of my house.
Mixed techniques: acrylic, watercolour pastel, watercolour wax, oil, idro-oil.
Supports: canvas, washed canvas, cotton-paper.
Some of these paints have been exposed in:
Berlin, Werkust Gallery (2015);
Milano, AAF (2015);
Bergamo, Fondazione Mazzoleni (2015);
Shenzhen, Mr Zhu private collection (2012);
London, Brick lane, Cafe 1001 (2015).
I had the chance to perform in a some interesting music venues in Italy, Europe and UK with project called Irro Ra, based on improvisation: piano live sampling / live looping / live sound designing.