Experiential Cognition Lab

Art-Science show: Insecure Science


Mirror|rorriM, 2017

Experiential Cognition Lab.

Medium: Mirror, Smoke, Laser, Video Projection, Fabric, Audio.

Wall text:

Cognitive neuroscience using brain imaging has currently come to the stage of mapping and correlating neural signals through research and experimentation on human and animal brains. The aesthetic of brain imagery has been around since the 1970s when the first scans captured the brain in cross-sections. The cross-sections of the brain and its snipping moments of dynamic neural 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 had historically been limited to static imagery.

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 is examined out of the context of our everyday lives, still unable to explain how and why the brain is conscious. Brain imagery in science research, for example, is reductive in the record of lived experiential subjectivities empirically exclusive of the everyday life outside the labs, unable to qualify the quantities of data accessibly limited to slices and imagery, even down to the microns. Measured in technically controlled environments, devoid of sensorial experiences beyond the sterile environment of the labs, technology to understand the brain is tremendously helping us examine the mind as a phenomenon. 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, aestheticized as images of investigation, relics of lived moments devoid of sensorial correlations.

Medical and scientific research done through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), gives us insights into what part of the brain is active or lit at a given point of time in these controlled environments depicting the frozen neural activity. 

Mirror|rorriM attempts to challenge the reductive scientific method of imagery that can never metaphorically tell the whole story of the scanned brain to understand consciousness, maybe even if we scan every brain on the planet. The aesthetic of the imagery of the constant dynamic activity and complexity of the brain is lit up as an artificial dynamic frame mirroring the dynamism of the brain outside the laboratories, re-representing the mirroring of the brain imagery inside sterile laboratories, the installation reimagines the brain imagery by situating it outside the lab into landscapes of art. 


Youtube video: 2 mins 5 sec

Best viewed on 1080p.



Red, 2017

Experiential Cognition Lab

Medium: Spoken word, Audio headphones.

Wall text:

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.

Audio Recording. Duration: 2 min

Images from the exhibition
Photography: Rutwij Paranjape


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