[-empyre-] David Cuartielles Presentation

Dear Raquel and all the others in this discussion,

I am David Cuartielles, Director of the Prototyping Laboratory at the School of Arts and Communication in Malmo Univeristy, Sweden, as well as PhD. Candidate in Interaction Design. I don't really consider myself an artist, since I never studied to become one (this could be yet another interesting discussion, whether one needs to go to the art academy to become an artist or not ... it is at least needed to get access to the grant system here in Sweden). However, I ended up being considered one what is good sometimes, and being invited to this discussion is one of those cases.

As a warm up I will point out the framework I have stated for my PhD when it comes to human cognition, and from there I will try to attack/defend the other views on the topic.


When referring to cognition and perception I always try to make a clear distinction between both. Cognition to me includes the mental analysis and representation of what the human perceives. From this starting point, I have focused in looking for ways to trigger unexpected perceptive phenomena. Talking in terms of system design perception would be the objective part of our input. 

Using the same metaphor, cognition would be a mixture of the memory of the system and the input in real time. This responds to a model presented by Francisco Varela where a really big portion of the information affecting our brain at every situation –about 80%- is part of our memory, while the other 20% is perceived there. Let’s say that e.g. I am looking into someone’s face, according to my eyes’ visual angle it is not possible to literally “see” the whole face at once. However, I can move the focus point of my retina quick enough to get an overall blurry image that my brain will have to fill in. It is that action of “filling in” that I call cognition.


This means that cognition deals with issues that many times escape from my own knowledge. Cultural aspects are at the peak of the cognitive mountain of connotations and preconceptions. But there are other factors that are important like education, environment, etc. There have been cognitive experiments done in African tribes and repeated in European cities throwing completely different results, showing that cognition is environment-dependent. Note that even making use of this paradigm cognition is still happening at a low level, before the interpretation of whatever is perceived at a higher level. 
Bringing art in this discussion is a hard topic. For example social art … whatever that means it has to do with even a higher instance than cognition. To me social art works at a relational level: how people influence people, how social structures can modify people’s conduct, how corporations affect everyday life … all these cases and many more are about individuals and collectives relating to each other. The way how this will touch upon cognition, which is a very personal phenomenon, is very unclear to me. 

One could of course say that since education conditions cognition, and that since education is a macrostructure that relates to the whole rest of our very complex social construction, if we where able of affecting one of the pieces relating to education, we would be touching cognition, somehow. 

This means that doing social art is doing cognitive art ... 

Well that was my statement, more to come.

Hasta pronto,


PS. if you want to know more about my work, you could visit:

2005 - http://www.arduino.cc --> a platform for artists
                                 to learn about sensor 

2004 - http://www.0j0.org --> an alternative PhD diary

2003 - http://rd.labbs.net --> Desearch and Revelopment
                               the "other" department at your

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