[-empyre-] cognitive science and intuitive art

hi all

I'm not sure that this months theme is the correct place for a discussion on
the labyrithine and problematic theme of art and science as bedfellows or
studiofellows. there's so much in this subject that it could fill 3 months
of empyre on its own.

however, I thinkk its interesting to ponder the similarities when thinking
about cognition. cognition about cognition, in fact - we can so easily get
into a russian doll, wheels within wheels situation here.

its not at all surprising that both art and science, each having the common
and general goal of understanding and insight as their purpose should focus
on cognitive processes. science will always be more rigorous because it has
to be while art has the freedom to be more speculative, also because it has
to. I don't agree with you, brian, that rigour and honesty are entirely
essential to conceptual art. on the contrary I believe that too much rigour
and honesty can ground a concept that should be flying more freely.
ambiguity and openness are qualities that give life to any artistic
endeavour, leaving a space for the observer to enter and create their own
understanding. its true that art that deals with science is more powerful
when starting from a solid scientific background but I strongly believe that
to retain its effectiveness as art it should be free to go off on its own
speculatory tangents. the difficult part is finding an effective balance
between rigour and poetry.

the conversation has touched on emergent behaviours at various points and
this is what I find particularly fascinating and ideal for artistic
exploration. its interesting to consider that intelligence is based on
emergent behaviours, as groups of cells processing their inputs and reacting
accordingly. communities of single celled organisms or individual
multicellular organisms will exhibit collective intelligence based on the
emergent behaviours of each cell. so at what point does this become 'true'
cognition? and how as artists can we begin to manipulate that process? at
what point does the systems mechanics of intelligent cells become an

I personally find a great satisfaction in the idea of life as a bunch of
information processing machines all interacting and reprocessing each others
information. the networks and emergent situations that result from these
interactions are the stuff of wonder that art can so beautifully engage.

thanks for indulging another of my disjointed ramblings. next up, my
response to the luis bec texts...


On 9/12/05 09:31, "Luigi Pagliarini" <luigi@artificialia.com> wrote:

> Brian hi! 
>> I don't think you're giving the unconscious mind enough
>> credit, nor the intelligence inherent in our bodies at the
>> cellular level. As aggregate multicellular beings, our bodies
>> are constantly processing information and deciding what to
>> do, most of which is abstracted from our conscious state of
>> awareness. The interesting thing about awareness is that the
>> more we are aware of ourselves and our environment, the more
>> it seems that our conscious mind is supplanting our
>> unconscious mind. Or is that going in the wrong direction?
> I do agree with you (and Mr. Stellarc should answer on my behalf! :).
> But, yes, it might go in the wrong direction, in the sense that I simply
> *didn't want* to go that far not to risk loosing ourselves in endless
> biochemical (cellular level) or psychoanalytical (unconsciousness level)
> discussions. 
> But, again, I fully agree and if you all desire that we can dear!
>> What I like about the art-science collaboration is that it is
>> very much a symbiotic relationship.
> Is it?
> I don't see many scientists when walking in art galleries as well as I can
> hardly spot artists in conferences and congresses! : )
> Unfortunately, I guess that the concept of "symbiosis" and of "relationship"
> implies a physical proximity, which is not in there.
> Don't you think so?
> Could it be called something different?
> Coexistence, for example?
> I think that the "soul" of our discussion (the interest and motivation
> behind us writing lines right here!) is to be found in the partially strange
> opening of the two communities to each others.
> I can hardly find places like this: where an engineer disserts about art.
> Indeed, I must confess that when running classes at the engineering
> department in Odense I'm better off if I don't introduce the concept of
> aesthetic, :), and vice versa when running lectures at the academy of fine
> arts in Rome, I'd better not to ask about functionality! :)
> Further, when, few times (experientia magister vitae), I've even tried to
> convince my alumni that they might be the very same thing, I've got toughly
> attacked...
>> As a scientist and
>> engineer, I would never get away with doing the type of
>> experiments I do in the name or art if it were strictly
>> science. Art gives scientists a certain amount of creative
>> freedom and looseness that otherwise would not exist. That's
>> not to say scientists don't have intellectual and creative
>> freedom. They do, but it is strictly within the confines of
>> the scientific method. If you don't adhere to that principle,
>> you might end of like Pons and Fleischman.
>> In contrast, science gives art a bit more rigour and honesty,
>> which is important in the age of conceptual art. Often times,
>> it is too easy to tear apart a conceptual piece that doesn't
>> have enough depth or thoroughness in the idea because the
>> artist wasn't properly exposed to the issues through a domain
>> expert. As our culture continues to integrate more deeply
>> with technology, the artist must stay at the front in order
>> to continue exploring and asking difficult questions. But in
>> order to ask the right questions, they need to tap into some
>> of the rigour and domain knowledge that scientists posess.
> I partially agree.
> My opinion is that art is as strict to aesthetics as science is to
> methodology.
> And maybe this is what should be fixed (in both directions).
> Cheers!
> Luigi
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