[-empyre-] Neuroaesthetics _ad

ALAN DUNNING einsteins-brain-project at shaw.ca
Mon Sep 8 10:36:48 EST 2008

Hmmm, lots of questions and interesting issues here. 

The "real" world and the world of scientific truth…

I think that the "real" world (though that is not a term we would use casually) and the world of scientific truth are included in what I have called the virtual, symbolic and  imaginary worlds. Reality in our view is a state that is never outside ourselves, but part of a body/world continuum lodged in cognitive acts.  As a construction (biological, neurological - add your own descriptors here) reality is always contingent. Science has always seemed quintessentially metaphoric, full of images of invisible states and imagined processes as we apprehend it through embodied experience. Science can be seen as a kind of fiction that has (unusually) traction across a large number of bodies and worlds. Like other kinds of fiction the scientific fiction has agency.

Noise and Perception…

Kate Hayles has done so much great work in thinking about this when she talks about the shift toward pattern/randomness and away from presence/absence, in the dematerialization of the body.

This suggests a new category of subjectivity, an embodied hybrid of human and machine, that privileges pattern, and its opposite noise, over the material and moves between the material and the immaterial. A new body that acknowledges the absent. This body is biologically developed to see pattern and grant it significance in its dynamic mental model of its world. Noise and signal are for me interchangeable ( a sort of autistic conflation of mixed messages and hyper-intensities) – its just depends to which you attend. Consciousness perhaps becomes a kind of temporal band-pass filter.

GITM doesn't really use the machine (if you mean a computer) to make meaning. Our face tracker only looks for pattern, (a very simple and prescribed one) not meaning. Meaning is entirely dependent on the interpretative dance between data and receiver.  What it does is filter the incoming data. The hybrid body/machine is the meaning maker. In my earlier post I said that that he images are loaded with meaning, but this is true only after perception. Neither the machine nor our intent generates any implicit meaning. Perhaps, it would be better to say the images are vessels/mirrors for meaning.

Maria’s points are things we have considered – and maybe some will get implemented. But we have to date resisted these. The work demands close ties to EVP techniques and strategies – because they are themselves exactly kinds of pre-programmed events, full of bias and distinct deficiencies in learning. I am not so interested in generating meaning, or art for that matter. I don’t mean that as a provocation (though it probably is), but as a way for us to think differently. What interests us is that the desiring body is a body that irresistibly generates meaning. The art, if any is generated at all, is generated in the perceiving, and in doing so becomes the frame for the next ‘meaningful’ event. I can imagine many versions without the machine at all (Elvis on the taco, the misheard whisper, nameless dread, et al) – I think of it only as a contextualizing sign that says, ‘let’s attend to these things, this way, for a bit.’

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