[-empyre-] neuroaesthetics and modeling

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Tue Sep 30 23:03:11 EST 2008

All of this discussion is really depressing, I thought Alan was going to say.

Naturally, if all modeling is unmodelling also always, 
then the notion of a model is not interesting or sustainable any more, is it, and one wonders how certain paradigms or aesthetic models survived at all and seemed to grow in power over time.

>>Any model is a kind of process that is  - as many here have 
said before - in a state of becoming. So an expanded Black Swan model 
is really, for me, the only model - all events are unexpected, even 
those that are to be expected.>>>  (Alan suggested)

Artworks that are becoming are hard to pin down, naturally, as a parsing means learning to understand the performer or design/creation or programming techniques deployed for the work to work.  Today much research as art is propelling the notion of process or emergence or prototyping.  It is probably true that we have moved to an artistic culture of the meta-this or that,  always metaboiizing the reference sample levels (as in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers")  into a, one hopes, good mix tape.  ...   sorry, lost my train of thought. 

Andrew suggested (placing his hope in the notion of "interference", which in the 90s Performance Theory used to be called "subversion" or "contestation")
<<This might mean that "neuroaesthetics" might question the boundaries
of science, art and philosophy, and much more .... The most important questions to consider .... are "the problems of interference
between the planes that join up in the brain" (54). This interference
seems particularly acute in neuroscience's case. Maybe the more so in "neuroaesethetics", and at the same time, in
neuroscience considered aesthetically .. in other words, I'm perhaps suggesting that neuroscience always has been a necessarily aesthetic
approach to the world ..

I wonder. 

I enjoyed, in spite of the depressed expectations of the patterns of our future (for some of Anna's hopes of affective aesthetic/political atmospheres, i.e. hope and joy, i have little hope given the current climates or the past climates & political/ideolgical economies) some of the interesting practical examples given by Barbara and Anna    (and would like to experience Paul and Alan's "The Shape of Thought')  ...........
and the emphasis they place (the writers here, in their views on the art works) on "transformation", which I think would be a fascinating subject for further discussion (transformation of what, and in what context, and under what etiquettes and rules, for whom, against which?, perceptional? political, personal/emotional-internal? ).  

I would then ask Anna or Barbara why, in their opinion, the theories of "affect"  (as Massumi has helped to popularize them) have been of such interest to artists and psychologists  (maybe this is obvious), more so than to scientists perhaps  (those neuroscientists i have met seemed predominantly interested in observable, mappable data based on scans during action (motorsensory),  and yet more so to theorists and cultural scientists than to perforrmer and designers, unless emotion design and affective computing are considered scientific or neuro-aesthetic. 

oh, i wonder what it is like to called a "neural darwinist" by an art critic.  

(I admit that my suspicions about "neuro-asethetics" stem from an event at Goldsmiths University which Warren Neidich organized in 2005, claiming that artists had begun to investigate the brain,  and neuroaesthetics being a dynamic process through which questions of neuroscience are made “ready-mades.” (Neidich seems attracted to Duchamp and conceptual art of the 60s.) Concepts such as sensation, perception, memory and, recently, networks, plasticity and sampling incite artistic experimentation, he argued.  While this may be true, neuroaesthetics (with the visual art examples shown then)  struck me
as parasitic and quite banal, and i've seen enough biofeedback / interactive / relational performances now to also end my hope in their transformable effects or affects or excesses. 

But i like to go back and read Neidich, to understand some of the claims better; i found a piece where he defines more carefully and succinctly what he means by neuro-aesthetiics:  
go to:  http://www.artbrain.org/gallery3/c_text.html    
("Conceptual Art as a Neurobiologic Praxis")

I also wish to learn more about "extreme phenomenology" as well, Barbara, and how you see it refracted in a work experienced alone (no one has mentioned the increasing social autism in our cultures of hypermediation and hypermodulation) or within a communal environment   ––  a truly powerful installation work such as Eliasson's "Weather Project" ,  indeed,  which i actually admire because of the "heroic" earthworks  such as Smithson's Spiral Jetty or Turrell's metaphysical tunnels;  Diller and Scofidio's BLUR Project is another fascinating example of a seemingly ephemeral work, but in fact none of these relational artworks are transformative due to ephemerality, i think, but because they create these auratic scenarios of the sublime, a wonderful model we owe Kant, no?   
Obama Barack  in Berlin (under the golden victory column)  tried to use that model to modulate the masses, incidentally, it was rather odd/embarrassing to see this. 

are we running out of the month?

PS.   Lucette, i begin to worry about your bees,  but i find your postings rather brilliant, especially your last one. 

Johannes Birringer
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