Conceptual Art as a Neurobiologic Praxis was an exhibition curated by Warren Neidich at the Thread Waxing Space, New York City, in 1999 which attempted to make explicit certain trends and ideas that were considered important parts of the history of Conceptual Art but which had not, up to that moment, been adequately explored. The Neuro-aesthetic Reading Room is still an imaginary project proposal which in many ways builds on the concepts of Conceptual Art as a Neurobiological Praxis.
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.
Well, John left us with the notion of “hold that thought,” and Ralph began to talk about the way that we construct meaning out of experience. I want to talk this morning about meaning. This symposium is predicated on the premise that scientific inquiry and new instrumentality constantly burn new information into the brain’s synoptic structure, providing us with new vocabularies, allowing us to access visual information that was previously nonexistent, unknown or inaccessible. Vanguard artists have been investigating new neurobiological models and methods as the basis for aesthetic strategies and to develop new constellations of visual meaning.