Sex-change machine and invisible sculpture will top bill at the Dome

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The Independent Online
SOME OF the most innovative artists from the "Sensation Generation" will have provocative works exhibited in the Millennium Dome.

Much of the art will be featured in the Mind Zone - a zone that will contain some of the Dome's most unusual exhibits, including a colony of 500,000 central American ants and a "morphing" machine that will allow visitors to see what they and their families would look like if they changed race or sex. The results of each ethnic and gender change will be relayed on to a giant screen.

The artists were selected by the collector Doris Saatchi, who has been advising the Dome organisers. The artists were announced yesterday at a media preview of the Mind Zone and include:

Ron Mueck, who once made a sculpture of his father's naked corpse. He will be providing a 4.6-metre-high crouching boy, who will be appearing to scrutinise visitors as they approach. The piece is intended "to make visitors aware of their changing sense of size in different situations".

Gavin Turk, who is working with infra-red cameras to produce a light- hearted sculpture invisible to the naked eye. It will be housed in a smoke- filled box and will only become apparent through the use of infra-red. The piece will be used to "demonstrate the limits of human perception".

Richard Deacon, a Turner Prize winner, will have a wooden cell-like sculpture entitled "How Much Does Your Mind Weigh?" hanging from the roof of the entrance tunnel. It is aimed at reflecting the complexity of the mind.

The late Helen Chadwick will have a self portrait exhibited, showing her hands holding a brain.

Artworks for the outside of the Dome are understood to have been commissioned from Anish Kapoor (a giant spinning whirlpool); Richard Wilson (cutting a slice through the centre of a dredger); and, most spectacularly, Antony Gormley making a colossal Millennium Man figure, even larger than his Angel of the North in Gateshead. According to The Art Newspaper, other contemporary artists, including Tacita Dean and Tony Cragg, will also feature in the Dome.

Yesterday the Mind Zoneproved striking in both its labyrinthine architecture by Zaha Hadid and in its content - content that the New Millennium Experience Company chief executive, Jennie Page, stressed would show the zone would be "neither dumbed-down nor Disneyfied".

The attractions will be housed in a hanging maze-like structure that appears to defy gravity. The journey through the mind will take visitors into tunnels, wide-open decks, corridors, chambers and hidden staircases. There will also be a 3D journey through the human brain using advanced Marconi medical imaging technology. Footage will be relayed on to screens set into the wall.

The leaf cutter ant colony will be the only live exhibit in the Dome. Up to 500,000 leaf cutter ants from Trinidad will work their way around an intricate chip-like path, carrying leaves from their feeding table to their nest, the giant queen ant and her soldiers. In Central America they destroy up to 40 per cent of crops in areas that they inhabit. The ways in which the ants work together in a common cause will serve as a metaphor for the power of collective action and thinking.

The Mind Zone will also contain an acoustic dislocation chamber. It will plunge visitors into darkness, deliberately forcing them into concentrating on their powers of hearing. A specially commissioned soundtrack will play.

The idea is that the area will explore how some senses are heightened when we are temporarily deprived of others.

Zaha Hadid, the architect, commented: "Our minds are amazingly complex machines and our aim is to unravel some of their mysteries in a truly memorable fashion."