exhibition, conference, symposium

Seeing with eyes closed: Neuroscience and Art in dialogue

time: 01.06.2011. - 06.07.2011.
place: Venice, Italy
organiser: Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN)
Installation by Ivana Franke and ongoing neuroscientific research by Ida Momennejad will be presented during the symposium 'Seeing with eyes closed: Neuroscience and Art in dialogue' in Venice. The installation will be on view from the 1st to the 6th of June in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
Conceived by Alexander Abbushi, Ivana Franke and Ida Momennejad
Curated by Elena Agudio. Co-curator: Anton Burdakov
Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Library
Dorsoduro 704, 30123 Venice, Italy
June 2nd, 2011, 2-5 pm (on invitation)
Invited speakers:
Moran Cerf, Olafur Eliasson, Vittorio Gallese, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Jeebesh Bagchi (Raqs Media
Collective), Semir Zeki
Installation by Ivana Franke:
Opening time: June 1st- June 6th, 2011, 10am-6pm
On the occasion of the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, the Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN)
was invited to organize a symposium on art and neuroscience by the Peggy Guggenheim
Collection and the Marino Golinelli Foundation. Following the success of this event, the AoN has
been asked to continue holding this series at the library of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
during the following three Biennales. In resonance with the curatorial focus of the 54th Biennale:
IllumiNations, the upcoming symposium on June 2nd, 2011 – organized in collaboration with
Berlin School of Mind and Brain (Humboldt Universität) and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin
– will explore the theme: Seeing with Eyes Closed.
The symposium takes its title from an interdisciplinary project by artist Ivana Franke and
neuroscientist Ida Momennejad, conceived through the support of Alexander Abbushi and the
AoN. The project concerns the visual experience of flowing images induced by stroboscopic light
behind closed eyes. Being aware that the seen images have no foundation in external reality, one
experiences them as hallucinatory. This ‘conscious quasi-hallucinating’ challenges our sense of
the real in its alternation and its permeability with the imaginary. Each person’s experience
differs from that of others, and each ascribes different dimensions to the perceived space in
constant transformation. Communicating the content of this ephemeral flux of unpredictable
percepts stretches the limits of acquiring subjective report to extremes, and challenges the
scientific aspiration to precisely measure the timing of conscious phenomena.
Both neuroscience and art face ambiguities and uncertainties while chasing the unknown. Both
disciplines encourage doubt regarding our habitual experience of reality, but they seem to employ
opposing methods to produce knowledge. Whereas the scientific method strives to disambiguate,
explain, and tackle the unknown with precision, the arts have no intention of disambiguation and
often strive to escalate the uncertainties in order to reexamine our experience of reality. The
methodological limits of both disciplines are challenged when experimenting with ambiguous
and extreme conscious phenomena. Such experiences, as those explored in the project, can serve
as the meeting point of the two modes of knowledge, where genuine interdisciplinary
experimentation and dialogue can stretch the boundaries of our conceptual tools and methods.
In dialogue with the project, during the symposium a panel of experts from the disciplines of art
and neuroscience will reflect on the limits of our internally generated perception of visual reality.
How do we make sense of what we see without knowing what it is that we are looking at? Can
we construct spatiotemporal forms purely based on ‘imagination’? To what extent may different
brains show similar activities in spite of differences in subjective experience? To what extent is
our perception of reality constructed and altered by the intrinsic build-up of our brains rather than
neural responses to stimuli that is strictly ‘out there’?
(Source: Studio Franke)

(D.H., 31.05.2011)