ART & ORGANISM
- signals are transduced, stimuli are transformed; sensations (actions of sensory receptors) that result become percepts
OF COURSE we can only detect a fragment of what is believed to be out there: our sensory competence is a complex amalagam of competencies that were preserevd by natural selection, and those that developed as an individual matures –competencies can be general (ability to communicate with speech) and then shapedto be more specific (the particular language we learned)
- “GNOSIS” has to do with “knowing.” AGNOSIA is a more-or-less specific inability to understand the meaning of what is perceived, most famously known in the clinic with respect to language, but there are other forms, and VISUAL AGNOSIA is of particular interest in itself as well as for its larger (possibly metaphoric) meaning in the context of art. (read a brief essay on the doors of perception: https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/what-is-agnosia-understanding-causes-symptoms.)
- PERCEPTION and HALLUCINATION
- PERCEPTION is at the heart of EXISTENTIAL PHENOMENOLOGY
- context and expectations: read about The Red Blossoms
- INPUT- SYNESTHESIA notes READING – Excerpts about synesthesia
- Sometimes we see small elements of an art work (read about “Tracking the Gaze“), and other times we pursue a vision of the work as a whole: Listen to https://www.npr.org/2020/03/28/823071293/art-critic-jerry-saltz-on-his-new-book-how-to-be-an-artist
- AMBIGUITY. (Apophenia, pareidolia)
PERCEPTION is what we do with sensory stimulation and how we experience THREE SIMULTANEOUS STREAMS of information… from our internal organs (INTEROCEPTION) from our muscles (PROPRIOCEPTION) and from our external environments (EXTEROCEPTION), as detected (and often interpreted by ) our “special senses”–those organs embedded on and in the surface of our body that detects the world outside our bodies. Read A&O notes on INPUT- STIMULI Note: interoception provides critical information on the state of the body and can thereby affect physiological processes. It also affects cognitive processes and thereby states of mind–read Camilla Nord’s comments on interoception in Psyche Feb 2022 issue.
- PARTS and WHOLES. Sometimes we see small elements of an art work (read about “Tracking the Gaze“), and other times we pursue a vision of the work as a whole: Listen to https://www.npr.org/2020/03/28/823071293/art-critic-jerry-saltz-on-his-new-book-how-to-be-an-artist a short interview in which Saltz makes the point that one of the elements of genius in certain paintings (van Gogh, Picasso) is how it helps you see multiple elements simultaneously – we know this can be difficult AND can be learned… remember last week’s notes on Janusian thinking. (neuro-types amongst you: there is likely a good reason for this that is connected to flicker-fusion creating an illusion of wholeness from separate frames: works in vision and—arguably—consciousness itself)
- OK, so ARTISTS (all communicators?) seek to manipulate our perceptions and feelings to evoke within us a representation of their perceptions and feelings–at least those they want us to receive–by means of when and where and how they present stimuli. Stimuli to Feelings. Okay, I hope it is clear to all of us by now that ART functions as communications when attributes of the physical environment are detected within us and lead to non-physical feelings. Stimuli evoke feelings: pleasure, pain, the sublime, laughing and crying, joy and grief. Artists discover ways in which your environment can be modified to better communicate their feelings. These ways can be learned by intense, dedicated study (e.g., Leonardo da Vinci), others discover some mechanisms spontaneously by endless, even compulsive, tinkering. Even serendipity. That is, experience—deliberately sought or not—that eventually informs their intuition—connections are made at a subconscious level. Many artists seem to know this and work to get access to their subconscious (e.g., the Surrealists).
- So, in Art & Organism, we are always on the lookout for examples of how science can explain any part of the process that leads to how we feel. How corporeal physical things become incorporeal feelings. This is at the heart of all research on the nature (and nurture?) of consciousness. Some say, the greatest unanswered question of our time. You will get a good feel for how our disposition and experience–feelings and understanding of what evokes them–work together by reading Read Sarah Scoles on The Strange Blissfulness of Storms in a 2016 issue of Nautilus magazine. [HERE]
What can we “really” know: data is inserted into gaps in our flow of information by INTERPOLATION and EXTRAPOLATION. In neuroscience, interpolation is called “filling in” – the blind spot in our retina is a good metaphor if not an example –look at Spillman (et al’s 2006) paper on “perceptual filling in.”
CONSCIOUSNESS PERCEIVED? One of the most complex accomplishments of perception may go beyond representations of the world outside us to representations of the one within. (It’s too soon to ask how “does one perceive their organ of perception?”). Read Michael S. A. Graziano and Sabine Kastner’s (2011), “novel hypothesis”
BUT we could argue that consciousness itself is only what we perceive it to be: Graziano argues at greater length that consciousness is a perceptual construct in his book, Consciousness and the Social Brain. (Read Aaron Schurger’s (2014) review, “Consciousness Perceived,” in SCIENCE.)
MORE about SUBJECTIVE view of OBJECTIVE “REALITY”
“The brain, after all, is sealed in darkness and silence within the solid casing of the skull. It has no direct access to the outside world, and so relies on the information that reaches it via a few electrical cables from our sensory organs What is it we actually perceive? is it real?”
look at Alison George’s essay, “Can We Perceive Reality?”
PERCEPTION, VISUALISATION, and MEMORY
In 2015, Adam Zeman borrowed Aristotle’s term for the mind’s eye (phantasia) to refer to apparent deficits in visualization aspect of perceptual cognition: he coined the term ‘congenital aphantasia’ to describe those rare people with an inability to visualize. Prof. Zeman estimates that aphantasia occurs in around 3 per cent of the general population, and hyperphantasia in about 6 per cent. In other words, a spectrum phenomenon reflecting the neurodiversity amongst us. [READ Zeman’s short summary from PSYCHE] How does this ability intersect with dreams? Or or our recollections of real experiences. With respect to memory of things, researcher Elizabeth Loftus has established the parameters of accurate recollection including its malleability. Read about her research as it developed and how her findings play out in the real world (as in court testimony based on recollections) (LOFTUS discussed in the New Yorker).
[i] Neural Mechanisms for Prediction: From Action to Higher-Order Cognition. Anila M. D’Mello and Liron Rozenkrantz (2020) Journal of Neuroscience 1 July 2020, 40 (27) 5158-5160; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0732-20.2020 https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/27/5158 Article Info & Metrics eLetters PDF