Hugo Spiers: Science Communicator or the Visual Artist’s Muse?

A few weeks ago, the CNS had Hugo Spiers present on his work (his slides and a video of his presentation are online). The neuroscientist brings together science and art: he researches spatial perception, place representation, as well as related memories and imaginations at his lab at the University College London Institute of Behavioral Neuroscience. Spiers uses a wide array of neuroscientific and behavioral tools to gain more scientific knowledge about brain function, and he explores the visual arts to represent and communicate precisely these findings. In his talk, Spiers called the two projects stemming from the latter the “secret, hidden part of [his] life.” Continue reading

Neuroaesthetics and Great Resources at Penn

Sometimes I simply love being a graduate student at a private American university—resources at schools I used to attend in Germany (even though “Elite”) were not in the least comparable to what’s going on here with regard to talks, workshops, interdepartmental conferences and classes, methods courses, (mental) health resources, funding opportunities, … Take today: I am just returning from a talk on “neuroaesthetics” organized by Penn’s Center for Neuroscience and Society (CNS) in the Law School’s beautiful Silverman Hall with a nice reception afterwards. More on the talk after a short advertisement of the CNS: Continue reading

Inspired Part 1: Artistic Science and Technology or Modernized Art

I am still enchanted by the visionary reads of the last few days: John Tresch’s The Romantic Machine and Lee Vinsel’s posts on “What-I-Will-Call-ics Anonymous,” part 1, 2 and 3. Both Vinsel and Tresch present their ideas clearly and vividly, making their works accessible and enjoyable. Because I highly recommend your reading them, I won’t even try to summarize them here.

I will write about them nonetheless. Today, I will start with a few thoughts concerning Tresch’s exposition of the interrelatedness of science and art in the Romantic age. He devotes an entire part of his book to an analysis of common themes, methods and visions in science/technology and art in the early 19th century. By sharing parts of my dealing with technological art or artistic science, I will come out as a “What-I-Will-Call-ic” myself. Unlike Vinsel, however, I am not able to tell you yet what subsequent posts will look like, and when you will be able to read them. Just be patient, and bear with me. Continue reading

Quick Updates on Sex/Stats and Latour

As I promised before I got almost entirely caught up in working hard on my final assignments, I asked Kevin Gotkin to pass along the Latour analogy sheet he compiled for our class. Download it here, and enjoy!

Besides, I wanted to share the abstract of the Tukey/Kinsey paper I am currently working on. I shared my research proposal with you earlier. I will not post the whole thing, because I intend to make this a publishable article. Thus, this is only meant to stimulate your thoughts, and maybe you would like to share them (comment or email!). Continue reading

Impressive Brains: Latour and Bechdel, Cartoons and ANT

“I am not a closed circuit; I don’t trust my own subjectivity. This is why I try to get as much outside-assertion as I can.”—It’s almost a month ago since Alison Bechdel stated this confession during her keynote address for the Queer Method Conference at Penn on October 31st. I suggest you find a way to get to know her work, listen to her, and see her (!). But try not to freak out during Q&A and tell her how much you admire her, or she will ask you to “please, keep cool.” Afterwards, I suggest you go home and read Latour’s Reassembling the Social. Continue reading