[-empyre-] Welcome to Neuroaethetics

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Wed Sep 3 03:22:21 EST 2008

Hello all,

What a fascinating subject.

I briefly mentioned by M.Sc. Thesis work "Memory Association Machine" a
previous month in terms of my interest in making the system self-sustaining.

MAM is the result of an experiment to create a system that relates
itself to its context. In order to accomplish this I was exploring
considerations of creativity in cognitive science.

The system is based on the work of Liane Gabora.

The system perceives the world through a video camera. That data is fed
into a Self-Organizing Map. The self-organizing map classifies the data,
which is stored separately. The feature-map resulting from the SOM is
stimulated using a mechanism similar to a CA, which propagates a
decaying signal between the units in the feature-map. The result is
framed as a free-association through the field of memory, which results
in a unique sequence of images remembered by the system that result from
its relation to its context. Some images are available at:

I presented this project at the Banff Arts Centre "Interactive Screen"
last week. Rick Prelinger asked if I allowed the installation to roam,
what rights would I give it?

My answer was that I would not give the system any rights, as its use of
AI and a cognitive model of creativity was making use of a set of
metaphors for understanding aspects of the human mind, and were
sufficiently abstracted that the resulting implementation has very
little to do with the system which inspired the cognitive model in the
first place.

I find this interesting in relation to the Turing test, and the idea
that a machine could exhibit intelligence (or creativity or
consciousness) if it appears to under some circumstances.

I would like to concentrate on cognitive and neurological models of
dreaming in my Ph.D. research. I'd be particularly interested in the
discussion moving in this direction.

I'm very exited to read the evolution of this topic.

B. Bogart

Michele Barker wrote:
> First up, I'd like to say thank you to the -empyre- team for inviting me
> to become a moderator.
> The topic for this month is "Pictures of the brain: a look at the
> relationship between brains, imaging technologies and the field of
> neuroaesthetics."
> The focus for this discussion is going to be on the relationship between
> the arts and the neurosciences. Given the scope of both fields, a did
> few initial parameters were necessary. Of course they can be
> overstepped! The guest artists I have invited for this discussion work
> broadly in the field of new media, and not, for example, painting, and
> so the arts in this discussion will probably focus more on this field.
> However, much of the broader literature on *neuroaesthetics*  idiscusses
> the visual arts and so it's important to take this discussion into account.
> Much has been written on the relationship between the visual arts and
> neurology – with a large focus, notably from Semir Zeki the prominent
> neuroscientist, on perception.  Much of this discussion has been driven
> by the question of what we see when viewing an artwork and what
> processes take place neurologically in this seeing. Less has been said
> in neuroaesthetics on the implicit and complex question of the role
> perception (especially that of the viewer, receiver or interactant in
> the work) has in the actual creation of the work. These questions,
> however, are of immense importance to media arts and to contemporary art
> practice. So a question I'd like to raise for this topic  is the issue
> of active perceptual engagement with the work of art in order to create,
> compose, receive and *complete* it.  This is what Alva Noë from the
> field of cognitive science refers to as the enactive approach to
> perception[i]. This is where, I hope, new media arts will contribute to
> the debate.
> I believe there is a unique, and often problematic, relationship that
> the technologies and approaches adopted by artists working in this field
> bring to discussions about collaboration and engagement between the arts
> and sciences. Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, new media
> arts actively pursued a relationship to genetics and code and digital
> art. Examples can be seen in the pursuit of generative art, the use of
> genetic algorithms and metaphors of biology used in much art of this
> period. Now perhaps the time has arrived to look more closely at what
> processes, concepts and metaphors have been deployed  within the
> neurosciences. And already an emerging field of new media arts practice
> is actively engaged with neuroscience.
> The neurologist Steven Rose has remarked that ‘the very structures we
> observe are brought into existence by the techniques we use to observe
> them’[2]. Here, new media arts’ engagement with the technologies of
> imaging the brain and its functions, in order to reveal issues and
> implications implicit to those processes and outcomes, has become a
> central theme. This engagement can offer tangential and surprising
> results, diverging significantly from the goals of the
> neurosciences.However, the concept of collaborative processes between
> the arts and sciences is integral to this debate. Is it useful and to
> whom – artist and/or neuroscientist?
> Importantly, the arts and humanities’ engagement with the neurosciences
> is not new; my aim is to have a discussion that is not just focused on
> new media arts but takes these larger issues of perception in and of art
> into account.   I believe the diversity of this group reflects a much
> larger concern – from art history, cognitive and neuropsychology through
> to philosophies of cognition, perception and the media all of which sit
> alongside practicing artists with their own frameworks for understanding
> neuroaesthetics. I am sure we will discover interesting overlaps,
> syntheses and big differences in our approaches, language and
> understanding of the field.
> I'd like to welcome my guest for this month.
> –––> Trish Adams  is currently artist-in-residence with the Visual &
> Sensory Neuroscience Group, at the Queensland Brain institute, The
> University of Queensland. Under the leadership of Professor Mandyam
> Srinivasan this research group focuses on the cognitive and navigational
> abilities of the honey bee.
> http://www.qbi.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=52793 . Trish’s first artwork
> outcome from the residency was the DVD installation: “HOST”, University
> of Queensland Art Museum, 2008:
> http://www.artmuseum.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=87240&pid=78247  .
> –––> Lucette Cysique is a neuropsychologist who is currently a
> post-doctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales - Brain
> Science. Her main research focus is the neurocognitive complications of
> HIV infection. Her methods of research includes neuropsychology,
> cross-cultural neuropsychology, longitudinal statistical modelling and
> MRI-based imaging. Her current project is looking at the interplay of
> age and HIV on brain functions.
> –––> Alan Dunning has been working with complex multi-media
> installations for the past two decades, using the computer as a tool for
> generating data fields and, most recently, real-time interactive
> environments. Since 1980, he has exhibited in more than 100 shows and
> has had more than 70 catalogues and reviews published on his work. His
> work has received numerous awards including grants from the Daniel
> Langlois Foundation, SSHRC, the Canada Council and the Alberta Art
> Foundation. He is represented in many collections including the National
> Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He
> currently is the Head of the Media Arts and Digital Technologies
> Programme at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary.
> –––> Paul Woodrow has been involved in a variety of inter-disciplinary
> and multi-media activities since the late 1960s, including performance
> art, installation, video, painting and improvised music. He has
> collaborated with many artists including, Iain Baxter (N.E.Thing Co.),
> Hervé Fischer (The Sociological Art Group Of Paris), Genesis P. Orridge
> (Coum Transmissions, England), Clive Roberstson (W.O.R.K.S, Canada). He
> has exhibited extensively in Japan, France, Italy, Sweden, England,
> Belgium, Russia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and the United States,
> including the Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm and The Tate Gallery,
> London. He has received numerous awards from Canada Council and the
> Alberta Foundation for the Arts. He is currently Coordinator of Graduate
> Studies, in the Art Department at the University of Calgary.
> Alan Dunning, Paul Woodrow and Morley Hollenberg
> (http://www.ucalgary.ca/~einbrain/) are the main participants in a team
> of scientists, artist and technologists developing the virtual reality
> and bio-electrical work the Einstein’s Brain Project.
> –––> Tina Gonsalves (http://www.tinagonsalves.com/) is currently
> honorary artist in residence at the Institute of Neurology at University
> College London and visiting artist at the Affective Media Group, MIT.
> Combining diagnostic imaging, biometric sensors and mobile technologies,
> her installations, films for television, and software investigate
> emotional signatures both within the body and among interactive
> audiences. Since 1995 her work has shown internationally at venues
> including Banff Centre for the Arts (CA); Siggraph (US); International
> Society for the Electronic Arts 2004; European Media Arts Festival;
> Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (JP); Australian Centre
> For Photography, Sydney; Barbican (UK); Pompidou Centre (FR), Institute
> for Contemporary Art, London; and Australian Center for the Moving
> Image, Melbourne.
> –––> Andrew Murphie (http://www.andrewmurphie.org/blog/) is the editor
> of the open access, online journal, the Fibreculture Journal
> (http://journal.fibreculture.org/) and Associate Professor in the School
> of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales,
> Australia. He works on: theories of the virtual; post-connectionist and
> poststructuralist models of mind; Guattari and Deleuze (and others -
> he’s not quite a card carrying ‘deleuzean’); art and interaction;
> electronic music (especially in Australia); critical approaches to
> performance systems and what he calls ‘auditland’; biophilosophy and
> biopolitics; innovation; education and techology; contemporary publishing.
> –––> John Onians is Director of the World Art Research Programme in the
> School of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia, and is the
> author of a number of books, including Classical Art and The Cultures of
> Greece and Rome, published by Yale University Press. He is the founding
> editor of the journal Art History (1978-88) and the editor of the Atlas
> of World Art (2004). Johns most recent book is NeuroArtHistory: From
> Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki (Yale University Press).
> –––> Barbara Maria Stafford (http://barbaramariastafford.com/) is the
> William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor, Emerita, at the
> University of Chicago. Her work has consistently explored the
> intersections between the visual arts and the physical and biological
> sciences from the early modern to the contemporary era. Her current
> research charts the revolutionary ways the neurosciences are changing
> our views of the human and animal sensorium, shaping our fundamental
> assumptions about perception, sensation, emotion, mental imagery, and
> subjectivity. Stafford’s most recent book is Echo Objects: The Cognitive
> Work of Images, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
> ----------
> [i] Alva Noë, Action in Perception (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), p 2
> [2] Steven Rose, The 21st Century Brain: Explaining, Mending and
> Manipulating the Mind (London: Vintage Books, 2006), p 146
> Dr Michele Barker
> Senior Lecturer
> Postgraduate Coordinator
> School of Media Arts
> College of Fine Arts
> University of New South Wales
> PO Box 259
> Paddington NSW 2021
> Tel: +612 93850761
> Fax: +612 9385 0706
> CRICOS Provider Code: 00098G
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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