The Enhancer Project


“How apt that we hold The Enhancer by grasping the medulla—the seat, low on the brain stem, of breathing, blood pressure, circulation, and other basic autonomic systems that keep our animal body functioning. And the pill-shaped eyehole is located in the frontal lobe—the region of the brain, unique to mammals, that is the headquarters of those dopamine-sensitive neurons involved in attention span, long-term memory, strategizing, and the physical/emotional rewards for such efforts. This lobe doesn’t mature until our mid-twenties, so it is associated with growing up and making important decisions. Such issues are among the quandaries, individual and collective, facing Homo sapiens, and therefore they are at the core of The Enhancer Project. Are we as individuals or as a species mature enough to casually tinker with the brain merely because we can?” — Michael Sims, The Brain: Nature Looking at Itself, essay for ART MAKES PLACE catalog, p. 41-42, 2010

“By bringing a series of intellectual conversations to the public … Outlaw has broken through the outdated model of art as something that exists outside of real life. Because she acted as though there were no division between art and intellect, she succeeded in creating an accessible, intelligent, public arena that was neither art nor science, but both.” — Laura Hutson, community statement included in ART MAKES PLACE catalog, p. 40, 2010

Artist Statement
The Enhancer Project is a multi-part artwork that addresses the ethics of pharmacological neuroenhancement. Through 500 publicly distributed, brain-shaped viewfinders, a hanging installation, public talks and a blog, I seek to inform and engage participants about the issues surrounding smart drugs. The public panels included historians, bioethicists, journalists, scientists and doctors, including experts Michael Bess, Jeffrey Schall, Michael Sims, Nita Farahany and Drs. Jeffrey Bishop, John Greer and Howard Kirshner.