Artworks as dichotomous objects, by Robert Pepperell

Artworks as dichotomous objects: implications for the scientific study of aesthetic experience

Pepperell R (2015) Artworks as dichotomous objects: implications for the scientific study of aesthetic experienceFront. Hum. Neurosci9:295. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00295

Abstract:

This paper addresses an issue that has been studied from both scientific and art theoretical perspectives, namely the dichotomous nature of representational artworks. Representational artworks are dichotomous in that they present us with two distinct aspects at once. In one aspect we are aware of what is represented while in the other we are aware of the material from which the representation is composed. The dichotomy arises due the incompatibility, indeed contradiction, between these aspects of awareness, both of which must be present if we are to fully appreciate the artwork. Examples from art history are given to show how artists have exploited this dichotomy in a way that conditions our response to their work. I hypothesize that the degree of manifest dichotomy in a work determines the strength of its aesthetic effect, and propose this could be experimentally tested. I conclude that scientific studies of aesthetic experience should take the dichotomous nature of artworks into account.

Read the whole paper!

The quartet theory of human emotions – Koelsch et al. 2015

Check out this new paper on the neural foundations of human emotions (it comes with many great commentaries):

Koelsch, S., Jacobs, A. M.,  Menninghaus, W.,  Liebal, K.,  Klann-Delius, G.,  von Scheve, C.,  Gebauer, G. (2015) The quartet theory of human emotions: An integrative and neurofunctional modelPhysics of Life Reviews, 13, 1-27.

Abstract

Despite an explosion of research in the affective sciences during the last few decades, interdisciplinary theories of human emotions are lacking. Here we present a neurobiological theory of emotions that includes emotions which are uniquely human (such as complex moral emotions), considers the role of language for emotions, advances the understanding of neural correlates of attachment-related emotions, and integrates emotion theories from different disciplines. We propose that four classes of emotions originate from four neuroanatomically distinct cerebral systems. These emotional core systems constitute a quartet of affect systems: the brainstem-, diencephalon-, hippocampus-, and orbitofrontal-centred affect systems. The affect systems were increasingly differentiated during the course of evolution, and each of these systems generates a specific class of affects (e.g., ascending activation, pain/pleasure, attachment-related affects, and moral affects). The affect systems interact with each other, and activity of the affect systems has effects on – and interacts with – biological systems denoted here as emotional effector systems. These effector systems include motor systems (which produce actions, action tendencies, and motoric expression of emotion), peripheral physiological arousal, as well as attentional and memory systems. Activity of affect systems and effector systems is synthesized into an emotion percept (pre-verbal subjective feeling), which can be transformed (or reconfigured) into a symbolic code such as language. Moreover, conscious cognitive appraisal (involving rational thought, logic, and usually language) can regulate, modulate, and partly initiate, activity of affect systems and effector systems. Our emotion theory integrates psychological, neurobiological, sociological, anthropological, and psycholinguistic perspectives on emotions in an interdisciplinary manner, aiming to advance the understanding of human emotions and their neural correlates.

Call for proposals: Performing Psychologies

ESSAY COLLECTION CALL FOR PROPOSALS:

 Performing Psychologies: Minding The Remembered Present

(working title)

 

Edited by Pil Hansen, School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Calgary, CA (Dramaturgy and Cognitive Performance Studies) with Bettina Blaesing, Faculty of Psychology and Sport Sciences, Bielefeld University, GE (Neurocognition and Action – Biomechanics).

This book is the second of two Performing Psychologies volumes, the first of which is edited by Nicola Shaughnessy, University of Kent, UK (Theatre), with Philip Barnard, University of Cambridge, UK (Neuroscience) on the topic of imagination and other minds.

We invite proposals from scholars, researcher-practitioners, and scientists working between the performing arts and cognitive sciences on the subject of processes of memory in dance, theatre, or music performance.

The aim of this essay collection is twofold: (1) discuss how performing arts practices strategically target cognitive processes of human memory and (2) present insights into memory that derive from the study of such practices.

In recent years, a growing number of cognitive scientists study memory through experiments with performance subjects; at the same time, the number of artists that make use of cognitive memory studies and theory to develop creation approaches and lines of artistic inquiry is also increasing. A shift from a general understanding of memory as archived and retrievable information to a cognitive conception of long-term memory as a reconstructive process, involving our active engagement with our surroundings in the present, changes the possible avenues of working through memory in performance. In turn, cognitive scientists working with performing arts cases discover that performers’ advanced learning, memorization, and retrieval abilities depend on a complex combination of multisensory perceptions, articulations, and clues that question more classical concepts of memory. Scientists are motivated to advance the ability to study complex dynamics of artistic practice and artists are looking beyond broad concepts of intuition, presence, and cultural memory towards more detailed and precise cognitive understandings.

This volume will map, articulate, and support the continued realization of the possibilities identified by this rich field of reciprocal exchange between the performing arts and cognitive sciences. Contributors are encouraged to consider, but not be restricted by, the following topics when forming proposals:

  • Entrainment in performance as a source of joint/collective memory construction and retrieval
  • The role of trained, implicit memory in entrainment and improvisation
  • Performing arts training as a form of cross-modal perceptual specialization embedded in procedural and implicit memory
  • Performers’ stage presence as a mode of perceptual attention that prioritizes working memory processes
  • Expansion of working memory capacity through performing arts practices
  • Creative strategies and “impossible tasks” that aim to hinder reliance on implicit memory (skills and habits) in an attempt to create something new
  • The cognitive advantages of using marking and other forms of physicalized or sounded memory recall when reflecting upon compositional options
  • Creative approaches that make strategic use of declarative and explicit memory for memorization, to access source materials, or to activate performance tasks, rules, and structures.
  • Neuroplasticity and creative strategies for the adaptation of autobiographical memory
  • Performance as a mediator between cognitive processes of memory and external archives, records, and notations
  • Strategies for expanding, synchronizing, or hindering spectators’ processes of memory in ways that relate to the strategies used by performers

We welcome abstracts (400 – 500 words) on a broad range of approaches to these and related topics. Proposals are to be submitted by June 1st, 2015. First drafts will be due no later than October 1, 2015, and final versions of the chapters will be due on March 1st, 2016.

Note that priority will be given to proposals that either 1) are based on methodologically defined empirical cases, experiments, or practice-based research or 2) present hypothetical proposals that build on reviews of such studies. While selected authors will be invited to write in the language of their respective disciplines, some additional introduction of central concepts and presentation of research methods used will be requested in order to achieve interdisciplinary accessibility.

Please send submissions and questions to both Pil Hansen and Bettina Blaesing at:

pil.hansen@ucalgary.ca

bettina.blaesing@uni-bielefeld.de

Communicated by  Pil Hansen, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Calgary

Honorary Adjunct Professor, Graduate Program in Dance, York University

Dramaturg, Acts of Memory / Vertical City / Kaeja d’Dance

Stimulating research on the biological basis of aesthetics

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