CHArt TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Seeing…Vision and Perception in a Digital Culture
Alan Dunning, Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Paul Woodrow, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Seeing Things – Ghosts in the Machine
The Einstein’s Brain Project is a collaborative group of artists and scientists who have been working together for the past nine years. The aim of the group is the visualisation of the biological state of the body through the fabrication of environments, simulations and installations. The project has developed numerous systems and installations using analogue or digital interfaces to direct the output of the human body to virtual environments that are constantly being altered through feedback from a participant’s biological body. The core of the Einstein’s Brain Project is a discursive space that engages with ideas about the constructed and mnemonic body in the world and about its digital cybernetic and post-human forms.
Recent advancements in technology, computing science and medicine have opened up new possibilities of representation for the artist, who can now use novel and surprising methods of imaging the body in ways that question our traditional notions of world, mind and body. The interdisciplinary nature of this investigation has forced artists to recognise the necessity of deep collaboration with practitioners of other disciplines, such as medicine and computer science, in order to create, develop and use the new languages and technologies of bodily representation in sophisticated ways. The Project proposes new interdisciplinary and collaborative methods, using art as one just one mode of inquiry, to create more comprehensive and total versions of the body, to explore and develop novel forms arising out of interdisciplinary collaboration.
This paper discusses the recent work of the Einstein’s Brain Project, and its development of generative systems, to reference the ideas inherent in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) to examine ways in which we construct the worlds, and bodies in worlds, through pareidolia (a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus - often an image or sound - being perceived as significant), apophenia (the seeing of connections where there are none) and the gestalt effect (the recognition of pattern and form).
These works provide a means to examine the Projects interest in systems of meaning making that rely on pattern recognition, and the problematised relationship between meaning and the meaningful. The development of meaning in the Project’s work is dependent on an increasingly, yet seemingly infinite, complex recursive and recombinant loop between meaning made and meaning found. In this loop the external and internal worlds are blurrily indistinct, each acting upon the other in the construction of a new self/space forever suspended at the point of becoming. The effort to restablilise the self in this world where everything is in play, is questioned and negotiable, is unavoidably revelatory and reproblematises current and preceding models of authenticity and resistance.
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