Saturday, March 6, 2010

[Yasmin_discussions] multisensory perception

Hi all,
Raewyn's tame scientist speaking, Richard Newcomb ...

Its been an interesting journey, beginning our collaboration. First with our performance installation, Crossing Wires, spending time dialoguing and interacting with Raewyn, invited guests and the public, then at the SuperHuman symposium in Melbourne and then once we moved back into the science lab to work more with each other. Please see our blog for more info .... <>

>From our discussions with artists and scientists one of the areas where science and art seem to be colliding is in attempting to understand and exploit the sensory sciences. I'll expand. As Duke points out, while the artist is interested in the differences among members of the audience in the perception of a piece, this all adds to the richness and the multitudes of different emotions evoked and meanings drawn from a piece. Historically science has travelled a different path. For example in the design of a food, a sensory scientist has attempted to understand the average response from an 'audience'. It tastes good, like a chocolate should and it like, enough to repeat purchase the product. More recently the sensory scientists have begun to include an understanding that not everyone's experience of a certain taste, say chocolate, is the same. But still the food companies are keen to understand the association between the different taste experiences and different membe!
rs of an audience. Even more recently this has become overlayed with questions of emotions evoked by the product, with the realisation the emotional association influences purchasing. Thus it seems that in the development of food at least some enterprizes are moving closer to what an artist is attempting to do ... produce something or an experience that evokes. However I'm not sure about meaning ...

One area where I believe science might be able to contribute to the vacuum of response and also to the issue of language is the use of some of these new brain imaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) which uses detection of blood flow as a proxy for brain activity. Different emotional states are associated with activity in different centres of the brain, thus rather than asking "How did that make you feel" and the audience members second guess the answer you want, you let the brain answer you directly. Thus the need for language is bypassed. Perhaps I'll go now and have a look whether these techniques have been used to investigate the brains of those who are synaesthetic. Must have ....

More later
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