Concepts and Communications: the take aways


“I guess the question is not so much: “how do I understand your art” but rather “can you help me appreciate your art?”

Last Tuesday, we invited Russ Hodge, science communicator at the Max-Delbrück Centrum Berlin, to give a talk on his models and understanding of how to transfer scientific knowledge. In his career, which began with studying linguistics, he developed a model for a common barrier to communication: Ghosts haunt our thinking when we think within a field.

That is, many barriers exist between two people with different backgrounds in their assumptions of what the other might know – and these assumptions are constraining their own ability to think outside their own box.

We learned a lot, individually and as an audience in a rolling discussion afterwards, which lasted for 3 hours that felt like 30 minutes! Eventually, the sky outside was dark, but the room still buzzed and talking points were sharp as tacks.

Along the way, we honed in on concepts in linguistics, art theory, science, and communication. We realised that the benefits of communicating in new ways include thinking in new ways.

We successfully agreed on common terms and definitions, and moved onward and inward into the core of the matter: what are the differences between art and science that emerge from their intentions, their agendas, and their content?

How do we bridge gaps between two fields that can be so similar, yet so opposing, depending on which incarnation of art or science we encounter?

How can we come up with schemes and strategies for engaging with and conceptualizing art or science, when they are individually and together varied, complex, and faceted? 

A few take home messages emerged, presented here as quotes (paraphrased from memory):

“What is quite different about science and art is that science tries to bring knowledge to a point – to achieve an incremental increase in our understanding or conceptualisation of the world – and in doing so pushes the edge of what we ‘know’ further forward. Art, on the other hand, often lives in, and points to, exactly that edge of knowledge, and can be ambiguous and non-understandable on purpose. They share commonalities in their experimental methods, and their drive toward innovation and new experiences, but have a different approach to what the end goal might be.”

“While science has a self-defined identity, in the scientific method, the artistic method is totally variable. Many artworks in fact can be accidental, or have totally different meaning to the artist and the observer. In art there isn’t necessarily the intent or even possibility of transferring direct knowledge or concepts, whereas in science and science communication, that’s the goal.”

Russ’ talk was packed with insight and inspiration, and laid out with clear examples of what might prevent us from communicating, and in doing so, prevent us from thinking clearly. 

For anyone who’s thought or tried to transmit concepts (as we defined communication as), or wonders why they can’t understand some scientific writing, we highly recommend reading his blog articles at:

And more on him at:



Creativity and Neuroscience: Concepts & Communication

For the second workshop and meetup in the Creativity and Neuroscience series we delve into creative methods to communicate our often specific stories and concepts.

The evening will consist of 2 parts:
1) Russel Hodge, science communicator will give a talk on:
“How to see a ghost, think like a molecule, and communicate science.”
2) Our social speed-meeting the neurosci-art community to encourage collaboration!

Location: >top, Schillerpromenade 4, 12049 Berlin, Germany
May 28, 2019, Tuesday 6-9pm

Russ Hodge

In over two decades as a science writer, Russ Hodge has witnessed “the good, the bad, and the completely ridiculous” sides of science and its practitioners. Besides being a diplomat trying to negotiate new boundaries between science, humor, and art, Russ is one of Europe’s most respected science communicators and teachers. In 1997 he was plucked from a peaceful existence as a writer and musician to launch the Office of Information and Public Affairs at EMBL, helping shape it into one of the most respected centers of public outreach for molecular biology in the world. He currently works as science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. He has written thousands of articles, dozens of journalistic reports for institutes across Europe, and published 8 books on science. He is a co-author on 7 original scientific papers, has written highly successful international grants, and most recently written and illustrated a children’s book on evolution. Alongside humorous pieces on his blog, he is carrying out important work on the theory, practice and didactics of science communication.

His blog can be found at

The most crucial entries for EDGE concern his novel concept of “ghosts”:

and a more in-depth look at:

and be sure to check out his “Molecular biology cartoons” series:
and his “Trump” series:


We are very excited that >top, where we had our first exhibition last summer, is having us back for our workshop this month!!

An association for the Promotion of Cultural Practice, >top has been operating in Berlin since June 2002. Our members are artists, researchers and activists, whose activities range from individual research to curating project space to international collaboration. Our infrastructure supports projects that pursue an interdisciplinary approach, support international exchange or deal with non-commercial attitudes. This includes, but is not limited to, a project space, a biolab, and a web server.

Minds & Microscopes: creativity and neuroscience workshop and meetup

Join us for our first workshop-style evening delving further into creativity in neuroscience and neuroscience in art

We kick off at 6 pm with Craig Garner speaking about creativity in neuroscience.
Afterwards, we will have a speedy date session to pick the brains of our sci-artist friends and connect this awesome community further. Last but not least, you get to build your own microscope during our DIY microscope workshop hosted at Planet Flow.

As a professor at Charité in Berlin, a research group leader at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, and the co-founder and coordinator (with U. Dirnagl) of SPARK-Berlin, Craig Garner is a fine example of a neurosci- artist. This evening, he will spark some inspiration on the importance of being creative as a neuroscientist as he talks about how creativity influences his work as a scientist, and how being a scientist influences his art.

DIY microscope workshop
Everyone is a scientist, everyone is an artist. Today we remember we can be both at the same time, as we are lead through an amazing workshop building DIY digital microscope for our own discovery joys. All under 10€ -for materials and everything whaaat!
“The underlying beauty of this “hack” is the hidden citizen science philosophy – science shouldn’t be exclusive and hidden in laboratories and away from people. It is information about life, about us, and so it belongs to us.”
-Julia, workshop host

About Planet Flow:
A co-working space and no stranger to the arts, they are a community which loves culture and knowledge expansion. Into mixing up well being and business.
They will kindly keep their Kaffeehaus open during the event.
address: Blockdammweg 1, 10317 Berlin

Free entry -donations welcome 🙂

show up and if you can let us know that you are coming, you can do so in so many ways!
leave a reply below! or on our other social media platforms:
or shoot us an email at