Experiential Cognition Lab: Insecure Science
Experiential Cognition Lab.
Medium: Mirror, Smoke, Laser, Video Projection, Fabric, Audio.
Our brains are in a constant state of activity through neural synapses in what we call as conscious and subconscious states, the scientific method of studying these states through imagery are examined out of context of our everyday lives. The problem with studying such activity in isolation from every day, like that of brain imagery at hospitals, for example, reduces the record of lived experiential sensations, unable to qualify a wholesome interconnected system of neurons, accessibly limited to slices of brain activity; measured in technically controlled environments, devoid of sensorial experiences beyond the sterile environment of the labs. Examined under a controlled state of mind such as an encapsulated fMRI machine, magnetic waves are used to scan the brain, to be frozen in time as records, as static images, relics of lived moments devoid of experience.
Cognitive neuroscience using brain imaging has currently come to a stage of mapping and correlation through research and experimentation on human and animal brains. The aesthetic of static images of the brain has been around since the 1970s when the first scans captured the brain in cross-sections. These static cross-sections of the brain, contrary to our constant dynamic brain activity have since been the subject of standard practice in medical or scientific examinations, to better understand the brain in controlled experiences of the environment which have historically been limited and reduced to still imagery.
Medical and scientific research done through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), gives us insights into what part of the brain is active or ‘lit up’ at a given point of time in these controlled environments depicting the frozen neural activity. The aesthetic of the still imagery available to common folk fails to ‘capture’ through imagery the constant dynamic activity and complexity of the brain.
“Mirror|rorriM” attempts to break the scientific method of examining static imagery of the brain as an aesthetic mirror, reflecting on the state of staticity of recording empirical experiences in the process of visualizing brain activity. Flow is achieved rather than a frozen image, the installation through generative mediums of expression reimagines the dynamicity of brain imagery and creates a flow, therefore, changing the nature of the static image. Lasers and smoke are used as experimental media to mirror the insides of our dynamic brain activity projected as a video or moving imagery on a dynamic fabric surface, rather than flat, static brain imagery.
Youtube video: 2 mins 5 sec
Best viewed on 1080p.
Experiential Cognition Lab
Medium: Spoken word, Audio headphones.
Among nearly 7000 living languages in the world, English reigns as one of the most commonly used languages of communication across a globalized world. The current activity of the reader making sense of a number of words placed one after the other, is only possible because of the complex ability of the brain to relate meanings to words and visual cues. Language and cognition mutually influence each other, embedded in our everyday experiences and our surrounding environments. The role of cognitive learning is inherently observed in children who start to pick up concepts like spoken language to make sense of the world around through correlation and the need to communicate.
Cognitive linguistics explains that our language is situated in a specific contextual environment and is an embodied phenomenon where concepts like semantics pour meaning to words, which our brains adapt to, memorizes and uses for effective communication. What seems fascinating is the effectiveness of communication varies from a hyper-local tribal language using clicks and noises, to a global language such as English, which is the capacity of the brain to associate language to the subjective understanding of the medium of communication commonly agreed-upon structure of concepts like grammar and syntax. What we read, write and speak today is a result of hundreds of years of linguistic evolution as argued in the literary theory of Intertextuality. Humans have a larger part of the brain dedicated to processing visual information more than any other sense, this cognitively helps us relate and associate language to mental concepts and visualizations.
“Red” tries to embody the cognitive study of language and its association by situating the listener in the context of Cognitive Dissonance, artistically exploring the role of semantics in the unusual context of the word ‘Red’. This experiment uses the spoken word to playfully de-contextualize word associations with mental visualizations and imagery related to the color.
Images from the exhibition
Photography: Rutwij Paranjape