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Introduction to the Conference of Neuroaesthetics

Good morning everyone, I would like to welcome you to Goldsmith’s College and our conference on Neuroaesthetics. This conference is the last of four conferences held here since January, the others being ‘A Phantom Limb Phenomena: Its Aesthetic, Cultural and Philosophical Implications’,  ‘Creative Evolution’, and ‘Creativity and Cognition’. This conference looks at the new and emerging field of Neuroaesthetics—what it is, what it is doing and where it is going. In my opinion, artists have always been implicitly interested in vision, audition, movement, language, perception, cognition, consciousness and now sampling, plasticity, and synchronicity. …

Rhythm Science



First and foremost, I just want to say thank you all so much for coming out. I know given the hecticness of being in London, and seeing the traffic on the way over here, its always amazing that people can get from point a to point b. After living in New York and comparing it to London, I’ve just realized I have a kind of grid mentality.  We heard the gentleman earlier talk about that.  And I just realized that the traffic here really alters your sense of perception of time. Its gridlock here. Anyway, to make a long story short, I am an artist, …

The Affective Logic of the Sound File in the Age of the Global Sound Archive



First of all, I’d very much like to thank Prof. [Brian] Massumi for his brilliant analysis of the new regime of power taking place in America and pretty much the globe, especially using the case of Toshiba as a case study of something that I think really exemplifies the whole way of thinking about biopower.  I’d like to thank Daniel Glaser for his elucidation of science and the brain, and I very much want to thank Paul [Miller] for his multi-media lecture on the poetics and aesthetics of the mix. I think it’s kind of broadened the discussion and opened it up to aesthetics.…

Neuro-Curo

Earlier on this week there was series on BBC television called ‘How Art Made the World‘. While the programme’s direction presented serious difficulties for me, the last episode did have a striking proposition concerning humanity’s earliest imagery depicted in caves – the possibility that, rather than being representations of hunting scenes or anything else, these paintings have far more to do with sensory depravation, and as a result are direct neurological images projected onto cave walls. …

Synaesthesia, a Neuroaesthetics Exhibition

This is a talk about a show I curated at the digital studio of the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art in London) entitled “Synaesthesia, A Neuroaesthetics Exhibition”. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the concept for the show as well as some works included in the exhibition. I’d also like to touch upon this idea of taking something cognitive and placing it in the context of an art gallery. If nothing else, and as we saw this morning, a scientific approach to aesthetics sparks debate, and if nothing else, an aesthetic approach to science should raise a few eyebrows. …

This is Tomorrow: A Case of Psychoneural Isomorphism

So the precedent of the show that Richard Hamilton did in 1951 for which a catalog was published called Aspects of Form, which aspired from essays by Herbert Reed and Ernst Hans Gombrich, Rudolph Arnheim and Konrad Lorenz also had essays mostly by scientists, mathematicians, brain researchers, and also people who were interested in sound and waves and stuff like that. So what I will be talking about is the attitude of a group of artists in the 1950s towards science and the way that they positioned themselves using the role of the scientist and their methodology.…

How to get beyond the market – Transsubjective Reality in the Salvia Divinorum Forest (Let the Crowds in)

This is just, it’s really a response to a lot of things that were said today, and in fact, it’s really really good that I’m right at the end of this panel, because I’m a walking example of what Diedrich [Diederichsen] was saying, and Martina [Wicklein] also, in a sense that neurotransmission and the kind of historical background. What I really want to do is propose a kind of call to arms, and it’s not a performance, it is a proposition, I am actually actively making a proposition towards a certain collectivization, not in a Stalinist sense, but perhaps an active resistance within the so-called …

The Brain on Drugs

I’m going to try to give you a very brief neurological perspective on drugs, and how they interact with the brain, and what they might do to the brain.  But as you heard, from Warren’s introduction, I am by no means, an expert on drugs (in both ways).  I’ll try to give you an idea of what the current thinking is on how drugs impose themselves on the brain.  To do so, I’m just going to give you a brief introduction to some of the main players of the brain.  I’m going to talk a little bit about neural synapses, because the synapse are key …

Celebrating Contingency





Let me start with a quote from Stanley Cavell’s most recent book, Philosophy The Day After Tomorrow: “May we think as follows, that philosophy of science can be taken to be what philosophy is. That is because Philosophy is and contended to be recognizable, or practical as a chapter of science. Whereas, were Philosophy of Art to make of itself a chapter of one or more of the arts, it would no longer be recognizable as Philosophy.”

Let’s celebrate contingency and get over it by considering the history. I was asked by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1969 to describe …

Introduction to Panel: Art Praxis



This panel is comprised of Beau Lotto, Jules Davidoff and Olafur Eliasson.

Jules Davidoff, who will speak third, as a few of you know, is a Professor of Psychology, an evolutionary psychologist, a different kind of evolutionary psychologist, with a great amount of knowledge of cognitive neuroscience. He writes on color, very fascinating, he’s done benchmark pieces on color – and his notion of color works with a very sophisticated idea of culture as well as nature.

Beau Lotto will speak second on the postmodern brain. Beau is a neuroscientist; he’s going to speak about the brain apart from notions of linear causality.…

Similarity and Coloration



Today I have chosen some  works which I think will have more or less relevance in this context. Just briefly, I was born in Copenhagen, my parents were from Iceland but were studying in Denmark at the time, and I lived a little bit in-between. Then, ten or eleven years ago I finished art school in Copenhagen and I moved down to Berlin and I have been living there since. I came out of art school at a time (in the early nineties) when, at least in Danish art schools, it was slightly apocalyptic, always being about the end of everything in this sort of …

The Postmodern Brain



For today, much of what we have been hearing about is context, context in perception. Neuroscientist are usually  interested in is how context affects what we see. But today I am going to focus on the question of why context matters. The effect of context is fundamental to everything that  the brain does even what is most basic to the brain … seeing colour. One of the examples I am going to show here is a well known color contrast illusion vision. As a neuroscientist I get very excited about very simple effects and why this comes about.…

Colour Categories as Cultural Constructs



Well it’s a pleasure to continue this discussion about color, and a bit of a superb organization allows me  to  naturally flow from what I think was said before.  Now I feel that some of the effects that I wish to talk about may appear somewhat more subtle, perhaps less dramatic, than the wonderful things we’ve seen up until now. And I do want to talk about the ways in which our experience might affect the way we see similarities in color. But in order to do that, perhaps I’d like to try to put some sort of perspective on a memory structure that will …

The Question of Plasticity

Plasticity is a very broad notion and to explain how plasticity helps us to understand certain aspects of brain function I’m going to briefly discuss with you some clinical examples.

To begin, however, I would like to illustrate how the ways in which a normal individual  perceives, understands and remembers the world can become radically altered. In his book “Touching the Rock”, John Hull, an Australian living in England, described how after he became blind in middle age he lost the ability to visualize those with whom he had daily contact, such as members of his family or friends and acquaintances he met after he …

Alloaesthetics and Neuroaesthetics: Travels through Phenomenology and Neurophysiology

I want to cover lots and lots of things, and of course there isn’t enough time for everything so what I’m going to do is do it a little bit backwards, meaning I’m going to show you the things that I want to conclude with as fast as I can and then, as time allows, try to give you the context for them and then the sort of the theoretical construct that they fit in. But I do want to touch upon the liquid architecture thing, just a bit. So this is the title that’s in the conference proceedings “alloaesthetics and Neuroaesthetics, phenomenology and neurophysiology”, …

Functional Architectonics of the Brain: Co-evolving Structures of Meaning

I will start with the architectonics of the brain, and then I think I will start out with the idea that is difficult to do neurosciences without calling it Constructivism in some sense. I think we saw that very beautifully today in what Beau Lotto said and what Daniel Glaser said earlier, yesterday. I won’t really say that much more about it now. It just seemed to be that if you are a neuroscientist today that’s how you think about it, and one way to put it is the brain basically feels worlds out of the world as the environment is transformed into experiential Buddahs. …

Inhalable Spaces

The question of the notion of Neuroaesthetics—I think in our work there is a kind of relationship with this idea because there are a lot of different dimensions and different things that change, and so the meaning of the space today is not the same as before, because we have more media to understand in the spaces we are living in.

So the first project I want to present is Nanometric spatialization. It is a project we first proposed in Switzerland for the National Swiss Exhibition called Expo 02. We were preselected but we lost the competition. After that we tried to do it again …

The Social Brain

I’ll tell you one or two or three basic points, such that you can retain them mentally. My title is the social brain and reflecting on this after the fact it occurred to me just to call it, either the Spinozist brain or, more mysteriously, the socialist cortex. The latter phrase came from/by reading and preparing for this. I’ll explain later what it refers to. As it has already been alluded to in some of the earlier sessions that there can be a social path to an inquiry into cognition, and intellect and mind, a social path that has been quite prevalent in recent years. …

Aesthetical Theory, Scientific Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

For this lecture, I would like to focus on the distinction between aesthetic neurobiology and neuroaesthetics. I will first outline what can be called the primary repertoire, the volumes of brain that we start out with at birth, and the possibility of the transformation of this primary repertoire into the secondary repertoire, by which the organization of new elements is the result of a process by which the primary repertoire is sculpted into patterns, or maps, by the millions of sensations which imposed themselves on us by our senses. …

Resistance is Futile

Well I’ve changed the title of my talk, just one of those things, I woke up this morning at four o’clock in the morning and put this talk together. That’s what’s amazing about Power Point, it’s a tool, it’s another dj tool, especially when you DJ your own history, or your own ideas or whatever. I live in Shorditch. I’ve lived there for a year and a half and in Shorditch there’s all this graffiti on the walls because there’s a big club scene there and I was walking around yesterday or the day before and on this wall it said, “Resistance is Futile,” which …

Can Art go without a Body?

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick makes one of the most famous jump cuts in the history of cinema, when he cuts from a bone being flung in the air by an ape. In this scene, Kubrick compresses the entire history of the technical and the human and makes a direct correlation between the first, and most primitive tool use, and the most sophisticated technological achievements of modern humanity. Kubrick was well known for the extensive research that he did for his films. His biographer, Vincent LoBrutto describes his, “capacity to grasp and disseminate information of like a human computer.” …

Ready to Anticipate: Pre-emptive Perception and the Power of the Image

What I’m going to talk about doesn’t have to do directly with arts practice. I want to talk about certain issues around perception and power in the context mainly of the mass media and try to talk about emotive power, that I think is directly perceptual and imparts technologically the workings of the nervous system in a way that constitutes a trend of extended nervous system, in a way that I hope will contribute a bit to the kind of extended context for what’s being called Neuroaesthetics in this conference. It has to do with aesthetics, obviously, because it concerns a form of qualitative experience …

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