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featured artist:
Greg Dunn, Ph.D.


Greg Dunn, Ph.D.
Neuroscientist, artist
Represented by 

Greg Dunn is an artist who received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. While a graduate student, Dunn’s artistic experiments demonstrated that the qualities of neural forms cleanly fit into the aesthetic principles of minimalist Asian art and sumi-e scroll and gold leaf painting. Dunn is now a full time artist based in Philadelphia where he works to incorporate his knowledge of neuroscience, physics, and biology into the artistic process through imagery, concept, and technique.


Together with Dr. Brian Edwards, a collaborating artist, applied physicist and electrical engineer at University of Pennsylvania, Greg invented a revolutionary technique called reflective microetching that allows dynamic control of imagery and color in reflective gold surfaces. This work has led to the awarding of a grant from the National Science Foundation to produce an enormous 8’ x 12’ microetching of the human brain, the most complex and detailed artistic depiction of the brain that will exist in the world. The piece is now permanently installed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

Self Reflected, 2016, 8' X 12' / 22K gilded reflective microetching, permanent exhibit at the Franklin Institute

Creator Statement

My non-traditional path to art through a doctorate in neuroscience arms me with an outsider’s perspective and gives me the freedom to  introduce  imagery and concepts derived from a different world than is traditionally encountered in fine art. My work is neonaturalist, art based on natural forms and influenced by scientific advancements that allows us to perceive the universe beyond human senses. Neonaturalism harmonizes unfamiliar scientific imagery and techniques with an experimental artistic scaffolding. For example, it demonstrates that fractal forms of nature are consistent across scale; that neural landscapes of the brain fit seamlessly into the established realm of Asian aesthetics; that expanses of the microscopic world are fundamentally equivalent to landscapes of the macroscopic world.


Neonaturalism fuses the worlds of concept and aesthetics, chaos and order, art and data. This approach visually, conceptually, and  technologically brings the scientific method into design and technique to produce pieces that demonstrate surprising and sometimes beautifully abstract notions about the unseen while commenting on the  common foundations of art and science in communicating human experience. Neonaturalism translates the perpetual stream of inspiration at the cutting edge of scientific research into visceral artistic form to  portray the immense beauty that pervades all corners and all scales of our universe. 

--Greg Dunn, Ph.D.

Self Reflected, final timing values and rendering, before production


Depicting a sagittal slice of the human brain, Self Reflected is the most complex and detailed piece of art on human brain in the world, capturing the connection between the mysterious three pound macroscopic brain and the microscopic behavior of neurons. It offers an unprecedented insight of the brain into itself, revealing the enormous scope of beautiful and delicately balanced neural choreographies designed to reflect what is occurring in our own minds as we observe this work of art. Self Reflected was created to remind us that the most marvelous machine in the known universe is at the core of our being and is the root of our shared humanity.

  • Made of 25 etched plates and required two years to complete. 

  • Contains the circuit dynamics of around 500,000 neurons through a hyper-precise etching technique capable of yielding animations from reflected light, depicts 500 microseconds of “brain time.” 

  • Hand gilded with 1,750 sheets of 22K gold leaf.

  • The appearance of Self Reflected is wholly dependent on its lighting, meaning that it can be displayed in animation or colored light. 

  • Installed with a programmable light array with 144 independently controllable LED fixtures.

  • Is made with a combination of hand drawing, adapted neuro-scientific data, algorithmic simulation of neural circuitry, photolithography, strategic lighting design, and gilding.

Visual cortex detail under white light / partial view of Self Reflected

Olfactory bulb detail under white light / partial view of Self Reflected

Available for purchase

Pranayama, 2014,  24” X 32”, 22K gilded microetching.


Uses animated reflected light to depict the movement of subtle energy during meditative breathing exercises. Walking from left to right illustrates the inhale; right to left illustrates the exhale.

Limited edition of 10

US$33,000 (with single overhead light source)

US$38,500 (in custom shadowbox with multicolored light sources)

Brainbow Hippocampus, 2014, 24” X 32” (~34” X 44” X 6” in shadowbox), 22K gilded microetching.

Viewable in either a single white light or multicolored mode, this piece depicts the neural structure of the rodent hippocampus, a brain structure involved in learning and memory. Illustrates the brainbow genetic technique wherein every neuron is labeled as a different color.

Limited edition of 20

US$33,000 (with single overhead light source) / US$38,500 (in custom shadowbox with multicolored light sources)

Cortical Circuitboard, 2013, 24” X 32”, 22K gilded microetching.

This piece comments on the similarities and differences between organic and silicon brains. Uses animated reflective design to depict stylized neurons firing action potentials up and down through the cerebral cortex in an anatomically accurate manner.


Limited edition of 15

US$33,000 (with single overhead light source) / US$38,500 (in custom shadowbox with multicolored light sources)

Chaotic Connectome, 2013, 24” X 28”, (~32” X 38” X 4” in shadowbox), 22K gilded microetching.

An abstract neural landscape that uses reflective design and colored lights to illustrate different neural populations.


Limited edition of 10

US$30,000 (with single overhead light source) / US$35,500 (in custom shadowbox with multicolored light sources)

Silicon Wafer, 2013,  23” diameter, in custom frame, 22K gilded microetching. 

A large scale microetching of a silicon wafer using photolithographic etching processes similar to that used in the manufacture of nanoscale components onto silicon wafers to create microchips.


Limited edition of 10

US$30,000 (with single overhead light source)

US$35,500 (in custom shadowbox with multicolored light sources)

Conscious (Place)

Can be commissioned as a site-specific piece, to a custom size.  The above is “Conscious Philadelphia” (42” x 58”), as reference. Emergence of consciousness through collective activity.