I bought a copy of Eric Kandel’s new book, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging Two Cultures a couple of days ago. I’m very excited to read it, as I am an avid neuroscience reader and visual artist. I read a review of this book, about a month ago and wrote posted my reaction to a statement by two well respected artists that said creativity is for amateurs, and that they, as professionals, ‘solve problems’ (see Broken Curves).
Kandel states that the fields of science and art use similar methodologies to tease apart the workings of human perception. For instance, scientists have shown with animal experimentation, that there is a neural pathway that identifies what an object is and a separate one to show where an object is located. He cites Oliver Sacks’s essay, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, to show how, with brain damage, these two pathways may not merge information.
I have read enough, in Kandel’s book and elsewhere, to know that artists can make use of the way the brain processes information to create visual illusions. There are many more problems that artists are striving to solve than simply finding ways to fool the brain. Perhaps one goal is to elicit a given emotion or a set of complex emotions through visual input. I will know better when I finish the book.
I tried a couple of things in today’s study. I drew an egg-shaped form and shaded the inner rim from dark to light and the outer rim 180 degrees away, from dark to light. I removed pigment from several areas within the orb: two spots, one curved line and one straight line. I was imitating the minimal stimulus that monkey’s need to recognize faces, that Kandel spoke about.
This painting was inspired by Kandel’s book. Hopefully I will be getting more ideas, the more I read.