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Category Archives: Archive – Public Talks and Presentations

Christina Lammer

Anatomy Lesson (with the participation of Dr. Ulrich W. Thomale)
June 23rd 2012 – Charité campus Mitte 
7th Berlin Biennale, curated by Artur Zmijewski23

Read more at mono-blog

Ivana Franke & Ida Momennajad, with Carsten Nicolai, Fernando Vidal and Daniel Margulies

¨Seeing with Eyes Closed: Immeasurable Realm of Subjective Experience¨
March 23rd 2012 – Deutsche Guggenheim

The panel discussion is the third event of the “Art and Neuroscience” series organized by the AoN in collaboration with the Deutsche Guggenheim. Following the first two rounds of talks “The Utopia of Communication” and “When Neuroscience meets Filmmaking”, this time the focus of the debate will be on the immeasurable realm of subjective experience and on its potentiality to stretch the boundaries of our conceptual tools and methods.

The discussion takes inspiration from the ongoing project Seeing with Eyes Closed by artist Ivana Franke together with neuroscientist Ida Momennejad and the AoN.

Invited speakers are Franke and Mommenejad, journalist and critic Niklas Maak, artist Carsten Nicolai, neuroscientist Daniel Margulies.

An installation by Ivana Franke will be on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim from March 23rd to March 25th and could be experienced before and after the event.

The event is curated by Elena Agudio.

Press: undo.net Art & Neuroscience

Ivana Franke, Ida Momennejad & Ulrich-Wilhelm Thomale

¨Art and Neuroscience in Dialogue¨ 
February 14th 2012- Lauba, Zagreb

Participants of the talk were: author of the installation Ivana Franke, neuroscientist Ida Momennejad and neurosurgeon Ulrich-Wilhelm Thomale, co-founder of The Association of Neuroesthetics. The talk was moderated by curator Sunčica Ostoić (Device art Festival, Kontejner).

Read more at Lauba 

Images at News

Amos Gitai & Uri Hasson 

¨When Cinema meets Neuroscience¨ 
October 7th 2010 – Deutsche Guggenheim

This second event of the Art and Neuroscience Series, curated by the Association of Neuroesthetics in collaboration with the Deutsche Guggenheim and the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (Humboldt Universität), focused on the theory of the moving image by presenting the work and research of the neuroscientist Uri Hasson and the film director Amos Gitai. Since the early days of cinema, it has been acknowledged that film has a tight grip on the minds of the viewer, yet only recently have we been able to record viewers’ brain states while watching a film. With new analytical tools such as a method of inter-subject correlation (ISC), used by Uri Hasson for assessing the level of control that a given film has upon viewers’ brain activity, we are obtaining new possibilities to bring together two separate, largely unrelated, disciplines of cognitive neuroscience and film studies. This new technology and research has opened the way for a new interdisciplinary field of “neurocinematic” studies. The film director and artist Amos Gitai shared the reasons of his choice to use the media of film to express his authorial vision. He will present for the first time in Berlin the short movie entitled “Berlin Jerusalem,” choreographed by Pina Bausch, where tableaux vivants of George Grosz’s and Ludwig Kirchner’s paintings are used to portray the post-World War I Berlin. This short film, part of a seven screen video installation recently presented in the Venice Biennale of Architecture, will open a discussion that compares the media of painting to moving images.

–Uri Hasson is a pioneering researcher into the relationship between cinema and the brain. He obtained both his Bachelor degree and M.Sc. in Philosophical and Cognitive studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in 2004 he received a Ph.D. from The Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Neurobiology. He later became a postdoctoral fellow at the New York University Central for Neural Studies and is currently a professor at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University.

–Amos Gitai is a notable Israeli director and contemporary artist. His work has been the subject of major retrospectives, notably at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), NFT and ICA (London), Lincoln Center (New York), Berlin’s Kunstwerk, and at the MoMA of New York, among others. Following in his father’s footsteps he studyied architecture when the Yom Kippur War interrupted his studies. It was the use of his Super-8 camera while flying helicopter missions that led to his career as a filmmaker. Since then Gitai has been using filmmaking as a tool to understand historical events and to describe and focus on allegorical visions and metaphors.

¨Neurocinematics! Where Neuroscience Meets Filmmaking¨

Hasson´s Abstract – While the idea that some films can have a tight grip on viewers’ minds was acknowledged since the early days of cinema, there was no way until recently to record viewer’s mental states while watching a film. In this talk I will review a new analytical tool for assessing the level of control a given film has upon viewers’ brain activity. The empirical protocol involved measuring brain activity using fMRI during free viewing of films. Using a new method of inter-subject correlation (ISC) analysis we measures similarities of the spatiotemporal responses across viewers’ brains during the movie watching. Our results demonstrate that some films can evoke similar and widespread neuronal responses across all viewers, indicating a high level of control of these particular films upon viewers’ mind. However, this is not the case for arbitrary sequences of motion pictures, as other less well directed or edited films do not exert such control over brain activity. Finally, this tool brings together two separate, largely unrelated, disciplines of cognitive neuroscience and film studies, and may open the way for a new interdisciplinary field of “neurocinematic” studies.

Gitai´s Abstract – Gitai has been using filmmaking as the most congenial tool to him to inquire into reality, trying to understand historical events describing and focusing on allegorical visions and metaphors. Being aware that the idea of framing reality in cinema presupposes an act of exclusion and inclusion that is intended to channel the viewer’s gaze and attention in a predetermined and controlled manner, in this talk Gitai will describe the resons why he decided to explore the Middle East problems and complex themes as homeland and exile, religion, social control and utopia with the artistic media of video. He will suggest how much a movie represents a mind’s architecture, being possible to find behind every film’s sequence an intentional construction. In this presentation he will present his recent work short movie Berlin Jerusalem and Eden excerpt of the homonymous films of 1981 and 2001

Curated by Elena Agudio & Daniel Margulies

Christoph Redies 

¨Scale-invariant Statistical Properties of Aesthetic Art Images¨ 
June 22nd 2010 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


The Fourier power spectra of subsets of aesthetic art, other visually pleasing images and natural scenes share a specific statistical property. On average, they are scale invariant (fractal-like), which means that the relative prominence of coarse structure and fine detail remains constant for different image scaling. In contrast, real-world photographs of objects, faces, plants and scientific illustrations have Fourier power spectra that deviate from scale invariance. Moreover, art images possess more uniform scale invariance across image orientations than comparable real-world photographs. These results suggest that subsets of aesthetic images display luminance contrast statistics that are more pronounced than those of real-world image categories. The significance of these findings with regard to sensory coding in the visual system will be discussed.

–Christoph Redies is Professor and Director at the Institute of Anatomy, University of Jena School of Medicine. Together with Joachim Denzler from the Institute of Informatics, University of Jena, he studies statistical regularities in art images and other image categories. This research attempts to identify universal properties of art images that relate to the basic principles of sensory coding in the human visual system. In other research, Christoph Redies studies the molecular basis of neural circuit formation during vertebrate brain development. Besides his scientific work, he has a long-standing interest in the visual arts and pursues abstract painting as his hobby.

Curated by Daniel Marguiles

Dorothée Legrand & Susanne Ravn 

“Perceiving subjectivity in bodily movement: The case of dancers” 
April 26th 2010 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


This paper is about one of the puzzles of bodily self-consciousness: can an experience be both and at the same time an experience of one′s physicality and of one′s subjectivity? We will answer this question positively by determining a form of experience where the body′s physicality is experienced in a non-reifying manner. We will consider a form of experience of oneself as bodily which is different from both “prenoetic embodiment” and “pre-reflective bodily consciousness” and rather corresponds to a form of reflective access to subjectivity at the bodily level. In particular, we argue that subjectivity is bodily expressed, thereby allowing the experience of the body′s subjectivity directly during perceptual experiences of the body. We use an interweaving of phenomenological explorations and ethnographical methods which allows validating this proposal by considering the experience of body experts (dancers).

Curated by Ana Gomez-Carrillo 

Luc Steels & Sissel Tolaas 

“The Utopia of Communication” 
January 28th 2010 – Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin


Luc Steels and Sissel Tolaas represent different ways of approaching the interaction between science and art; one comes from the science world and the other from the art world. They try to understand each other’s methods of working more than actually striving towards making works of art together. Steels and Tolaas both stress the importance of processes in their work and want to give others access to these processes. They both investigate communication. Steels studies the origins of communication, and particularly how sensory experiences, such as colour or spatial and bodily perception can become categorised and verbalised. Tolaas studies the most unique non-verbal communication form that we humans have, namely smells.

–Luc Steels is professor of Artificial Intelligence at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and director of the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris. He is known for his experiments investigating the origins and evolution of symbolic communication. These experiments attempt to find out what kind of mechanisms are needed so that humanoid robots can autonomously self-organize language-like communication systems. In addition to his scientific work, he has been involved with various art/science projects with artists Sissel Tolaas, Olafur Eliasson, Carsten Höller, and others. He collaborated with theatre maker Jean-François Peyret for a piece at the Avignon theatre festival. Last year he was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

–Sissel Tolaas runs the ResearchLab Berlin for SMELL & COMMUNICATION. She studied mathematics, chemistry, languages and visual arts in six different countries. She has been working with smells for twenty years, continuously expanding the contexts where they are considered. She has developed projects in order to use chemistry, neuroscience and modern technology to present smells and nonverbal communication on different scales. Smells at a personal level, including sweat from men with fear attacks, were exhibited at i.e. MIT, Beijing Summer Olympics and Louisiana Museum – the projects is also the starting point of serious research in Stanford University and San Francisco Neurosciences Institute.  In addition to her artistic activities, Sissel Tolaas works actively with business and academia. She also has an appointment for research and teaching at Harvard University. This year she was awarded the Rouse Visiting Artist-in-Residence at the Harvard GSD, for a research project done in Mexico City about pollution, perception and communication – developing new tools and new methodologies/methods to confront disastrous realities. Her work is generously supported by IFF (International Flavors &  Fragrances Inc.). 

Curated by Alexander Abbushi

Vittorio Gallese 

“Embodied Simulation and Aesthetic Experience” 
January 13th 2010 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


The discovery of mirroring mechanisms in the human brain and the functional hypothesis modeling these mechanisms – embodied simulation- offer the opportunity to shed new light on the empathic reactions triggered in beholders by images, in general, and by visual art images, in particular. During this seminar I will challenge the cognitive primacy in our reactions to art. The hypothesis being proposed will be that a crucial element of aesthetic response consists of the activation of embodied mechanisms encompassing the simulation of actions, emotions, and corporeal sensation; and that these mechanisms are universal. This basic level of reaction to images is essential to understanding the effectiveness both of everyday images and of works of art. Historical, cultural and other contextual factors do not preclude the importance of considering the neural processes that arise in the empathic understanding of visual artworks.

–Vittorio Gallese is Full Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Parma, Italy.

Curated by Elena Agudio