Mehmet Candas
Mehmet Candas  

Science and technology have always been my primary interests.  While my work concentrates on practical and theoretical issues concerning biology, I am also interested in exploring living things through art, philosophy, and aesthetics.  I find conceptual work that demands cross-disciplinary thinking to understand relationships in nature highly stimulating and mentally rewarding. Imaginative and intuitive approaches often are complementary, and sometimes integral, to the definitive aspects of science, which enable us to explain nature and life. It helps us to make sense of the universe surrounding us. Philosophy gives meaning, and art gives value to our existence.  I get inspired by looking at the diverged shapes and forms of organisms. They all have comparable efficiencies in their own settings. I am sensitive to their harmonious connections and intricate ecological coexistences.  I think biological properties found in nature are evolutionarily-tested.  Desirable features are the product of a complex and powerful system that has an intrinsic plasticity and mutability, which is mesmerizing. My fascination and inspirations often prompts me to find symbiotic relationships between biology and creative design. From an artistic perspective, I enjoy experimenting with generative and emergent concepts that are fundamental to the complexity of biological systems. I explore these concepts to create visual forms that can intrigue our senses and imagination. 

I also realize the importance of art and science across disciplines. Both are intrinsically connected to our lives.  They not only help raising awareness to issues, but also help deal with the seriousness of issues. Scientific and technological advances often track artistic ideas. So, I advocate that science should be an obvious part of our culture, like art, literature and music, providing a source of enjoyment, excitement, and hope. I believe art and science together enhance our consciousness. Understanding the harmony in nature and deciphering the inner-workings of biological systems holds the key for finding solutions to grand challenges we face.

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symbiotic unconscious

Symbiotic Unconscious is a digital animated collage created to entertain the concepts involving the relationship between the human body and gut microbiota and how the complex nature of gut ecosystem influences physiology and brain activity.  It emphasizes the fundamental notion that life on Earth originated as prokaryotic cells. These single cell microorganisms evolved with amazing diversity and dominated the biosphere billions of years before the first eukaryotic cells descended through cooperative union of some prokaryotic cells.  Arrival of eukaryotic cells ushered in a whole new era for life on Earth; it gave rise to multicellular life forms, including animals and plants on the evolutionary scene. Long history of coexistence of microorganisms with animals and plants shaped symbiotic relationships with ecological and environmental significance. These evolutionary associations formed metaorganisms consisting of multicellular hosts and communities of microorganisms associated with them. Like all animals, we humans are colonized by microbial communities, which collectively are called microbiota. Vast majority of these resident microbes reside within our gastrointestinal tract, or gut. The gut microbiome - the composition of gut microbiota along with their genes and metabolic products - has enormous impact on our physiology, both in health and disease states. The effects of gut microbiome on our body involve diet and environmental variables as well as hereditary factors.  Gut microbiome also influences our behavioral responses through bidirectional communication between central nervous system and enteric nervous system, which is recognized as the brain-gut axis. Disturbed microbiota, or dysbiosis, alters the brain-gut interactions.  Such alterations are linked to inflammatory pathology, gastrointestinal diseases and metabolic disorders as well as neurodegenerative and psychiatric neurological conditions. These findings now prompt us to reevaluate many concepts in medicine and brain sciences. Translating how symbiotic interactions involving gut microbiome act as an unconscious system and influence human body and mind certainly will play an important role in advancing knowledge on health, disease, brain functioning and social interaction.

Symbiotic Unconscious is presented as part of "Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome" - a virtual exhibition hosted at SciArt Center.
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ultimate interface

Ultimate Interface is an anecdotal depiction of the intersection of biology and technology.  It is an imaginative expression exploring the analogies and metaphors used for biological cells’ and computers’ information processing powers within the context of singularity and biocentrism. 

Just as biological cells are the basic unit of life, computers are the basic unit of the digital world.  Remarkably, flow and processing of data in computers have similarities to how biological cells read environmental cues and generate appropriate responses.  Cells receive signals from their surroundings and process information using integrated networks of chemically reacting molecules within their boundaries.   Computers perform operations on data and process information using integrated circuitries.

It is predicted that advances in algorithmic information processing will eventually bring unification of computing technology with the biological ability to communicate information to and from living systems (singularity).  This intersection purportedly will yield to an integrated process and spread in the universe with maximum level of complexity and consciousness (the Omega point).  However, life and biology remain central to being and reality, and create the universe (biocentrism).

“Future comes from past.  The past is realization of evolutionary moments in the endless journey of cosmic perpetuation.  Is there a philosophical meaning and a final destination for us in this journey?  Perhaps, progression of our intelligent existence and transformative impact of technology is our destiny.  Permeation and unification of our conscious existence with technology may be extraordinary.  Believing in this unification might be the answer we seek for the meaning of our existence and final destiny.  Nevertheless, the universe may indeed be biocentric and perhaps such unification has already happened.  After all, future comes from the past and the past is realization of evolutionary moments in an endless journey of cosmic perpetuation.”

The "Ultimate Interface" installation (30'' X 30' cell on 8' X 5' background) was presented at Dallas Fashion+Art Show in June 2014.
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The work addresses one of the startlingly basic qualities in evolution, “repetition”.  The idea is based on how we see the prevalence of repetition in nature. It underscores that repeated themes in nature are integrated in different context with variations. Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of evolution is that replicating organisms are repeated with variations, which are selected according to their fitness and can be correlated with ecological factors. In order not to complicate the visual appeal, variations are represented only with colors.

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© 2014  |  Mehmet Candas  |  Biological Sciences  |  The University of Texas at Dallas