web analytics

Category Archives: Archive – Public Talks and Presentations

Semir Zeki & Anton Burdakov 

“The Forms of Space” 
November 25th 2009 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


Space is a loosely defined term and so offers many working definitions to many fields. The dialogue will consider whether neuroscientific insights and definitions relevant to ‘space’ could find currency in other fields, such as art and architecture. It will touch on perception of form, colour and movement as the basis of establishing the nature of relationships between yourself and other entities in the world. It will also consider more specifically what it means to perceive yourself to be inside a particular space, discussing contributions of memory, non-visual factors in space perception, and the crucial but neglected role of peripheral vision in creating a sense of enveloping spatiality and embedding the subject in space.

–Anton Burdakov is a Berlin-based artist. He worked with Semir Zeki after finishing a neuroscience degree at the University of Cambridge, subsequently moving to to Berlin to concentrate on his artwork.

–Semir Zeki is Professor of Neuroesthetics at University College London. One of the pioneers in the study of the visual brain, in the last ten years he has been focusing on applying neuroscientific knowledge to the study of art, and on using products of artists to help the neurobiologist to study the brain.

Curated by Anton Burdakov

Ruggero Pierantoni 

“The Question of Scale. A Neglected Aspect of Images: Just How Big is too Big?” 
July 15th 2009 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


The challenge of measuring a physical representation such as an image or an artifact presents many interesting dilemmas, both practical and theoretical. What measures are possible and which make most sense? Within the scope of possible methods, a “scientific” approach takes into consideration the visibility of the artifact: size relative to observer, perception of the detailing, the role of visual acuity, illumination levels, object reflectance and other physical factors. Another approach looks at limiting factors during creation of the artifact: working time, availability of material and mapower, allocation of space, economic cost, and social and political background.

Applying both approaches to the large variation in dimensions of representation – from the miniature to the massive frescoes, from the minuscule statuette to the colossi, from the sub-millimetric intricacy of the illustrations of the Book of Kells to the American Flag on Wall Street – shows that the question of scale is a complex cascade of technological, financial and theocratic-ideological pressures on the one hand, and of our perceptual capacities on the other.

–Ruggero Pierantoni lives and works in Genoa, Italy. Upon completing his doctorate in Biophysics at the Institute of Theoretical Physics, University of Genoa, he moved on to work at Florida State University Department of Electron Microscopy, Tallahassee, Florida; Max Planck Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen; California Institute of Technology, CALTECH and Calgary Medical School. His main research interests have included ultrastructure of synapses in the visual system, white noise technology in electrophysiology, interface between computer and electron microscope, transmission and scanning. Beginning in 1980, Pierantoni expanded into visual and acoustic perception, theory of representation, as well as drawing of the blind. From 1990, on invitation of Prof. Joseph Rykwert, Pierantoni taught at the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. Additional visiting professor placements have included the Centre for Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario; VIRGINIATECH in Washington D.C.; University of Toronto, Department of Italian Studies; and Dizraeli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa. Apart from papers in international technical and scientific journals, Pierantoni is the author of nine books on visual perception, history of vision, history of architecture, scientific iconology, and architectural acoustics.

Curated by Anton Burdakov

David Freedberg 

“The Body in Motion: Art, Anthropology and Neuroscience” 
May 20th 2009 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


David Freedberg is best known for his work on psychological responses to art, and particularly for his studies on iconoclasm and censorship (see, inter alia, Iconoclasts and their Motives, 1984, and The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, 1989). His recent work is on the history of science and on the importance of the new cognitive neurosciences for the study of art and its history. Following a series of important discoveries in Windsor Castle, the Institut de France and the archives of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, he has for some time been concerned with the intersection of art and science in the age of Galileo. While much of his work in this area has been published in articles and catalogues, his chief publication in this area is The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, his Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (2002). He is now devoting a substantial portion of his attention to collaborations with neuroscientists, e.g. Vittorio Gallese, working in fields of vision, movement and emotion.

–David Freedberg is Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art, Columbia University and Director of the Italian Academy for advanced studies in America.

Curated by Elena Agudio

Michelangelo Pistoletto

“The Emergence of Self-Awareness” 
May 6th 2009 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain  

Abstract “If art is the mirror of life, I am the mirror maker” – M.P.

The talk, moderated by the neurobiologist Ludovica Lumer and introduced by the art historian Elena Agudio, will be an attempt to reflect on the emergence of self-awareness and to focus on the scientific perspectives of Pistoletto’s work and research. The process of self-identification, its development, the relationship of the self to the world, and the dialogue between the work of art and the observer will be the centre of analysis.

–Michelangelo Pistoletto is an Italian artist, world renowned as a protagonist of the Arte Povera movement. His work mainly deals with the subject matter of reflection. His artistic research starts in the ‘50s with self-portraits: studying his personal identity Pistoletto has come to the reflective – metallic – canvas as a conceptual instrument. He began painting on mirrors in 1962, connecting painting with the constantly changing realities in which the work finds itself. In the late sixties he began bringing together rags with casts of classical Italian statues to break down the hierarchies of ”art” and common things, finding in an art of impoverished materials the concept of Arte Povera. Believing in the responsibility of the artist as a “sponsor of thinking”, in 1994 he announced his programme Progetto Arte, whose ambitious aim is to work towards the unification of creative, social and economic aspects of human existence. In 1996, he founded the art city Cittadelarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in an abandoned textile factory near Biella, as a centre and laboratory to support and research creative resources, and to develop innovative ideas and possibilities.

Curated by Elena Agudio

Dr. Ulrich Wilhelm Thomale & Dr. Alexsander Abbushi 

January 22nd 2009 – Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin

Ulrich-Wilhelm Thomale, pediatric surgeon, and Alexander Abbushi, neurosurgeon, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, are founding members of the Association of Neuroesthetics. Using Kapoor’s commission Memory as an example, they outline the neurobiological framework necessary for an understanding of aesthetic appreciation as well as attempts to evaluate the meaning of art from a neuroscientific perspective.