Tag Archives: mind body

States of Mind @ Wellcome Collection

“Tracing the edges of consciousness” is how the current exhibition at the Wellcome Collection is badged. It is the first time I have visited and was immediately incredibly impressed by the building, the great cafe, and all of the very informative displays open to the public.¬†The States of Mind show looks at different aspects of consciousness and how we, as scientists, philosophers, artists and poets, have asked so many unanswerable questions over the centuries.

“Science still struggles to describe how the subjective experience of consciousness arises out of the objective tissue of a human brain…however, it is within this space that the range of individual experience exists”

The show itself was interesting and thought provoking, at times uncomfortable. A few key things jumped out in relevance to my work. The first was the discussion of science and the soul Рthe classical mind/body argument. As I have discussed before on this blog, the mind/body dualism essentially requires the separation of the physical world and the separate internal world of private experience. I realised that this is the barrier I am seeking to remove with my MA installation Рa way to create a space which exists simultaneously in the physical world and the world of my own private experiences, allowing the outside observer a glimpsed encounter with my own concept of self.

The second exhibit which stood out for me was that on language and memory as tools for conscious selfhood. Language and memory are tools which facilitate the relationship between our internal and external worlds. “Language allows us to communicate with each other – and to share our subjective experiences. We can also talk to ourselves , and identify ourselves.”. The series of work Post-Partum Document by Mary Kelly examined the emergence of self and was in my view the most poignant in the show.

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Another long day followed by Brian Cox

Lots going on today, in fact almost reaching the limit of now much new complex concepts can soak into a tired brain. Starting to look forward to the end of term – a chance to slow down a bit??

We had two lectures and Bridget’s third getting making workshop today, so a very busy afternoon in particular. I will write up the notes and reflections later once my headache has subsided. For now, I just want to note down this evenings product of serendipity….after coming late, tired, rather wet and muddy thanks to the thoughtful driver of the 345 bus, I powered up iplayer for some evening entertainments. HB was busy so it was just me and the floppy haired armchair physicist Brian Cox, and his new show Human Universe.

Well! I should have suspected this would be right in my proposal territory, that’s what will happen I suppose if you pick a topic based on your passions. A few quotes, notes and ideas from the show:

— Obsidian is one of the first materials early humans used to fashion to make tools (e.g. spearheads), the “earliest evidence of minds that think like ours”
— Our human brains have 80bn neurones and hundreds of billions more connections between neurones. This is comparable to the number of stars in a galaxy. I rather like this connection – it links to my idea of equating physical reality with our inner mental reality.
— the human brain is “the most complex physical system in the known universe”
— poignant quote from the Hindu Rigveda: “the gods themselves are later than creation, so who knows truly whence it has arisen”
— “complexity masks underlying simplicity”
— according to Brian Cox and his science writers: “we are something which emerges from electrical activity inside this complex blob of matter”. Said while looking at a brain I might add. This is rather interesting in light of the books I started reading today on the nature of consciousness. Are we no more than electrical signals? Or is there in fact a ghost in the machine? Much more to come on this topic!

Finally a small minor revelation. Professor Cox was talking about how humans developed from apemen to spacemen, and a summary of the major developments in civilisation which has allowed this to happen. I realised that in terms of human minds and communication, the written word is human’s information carrier. Equivalent perhaps, to how light transmits physical information across the universe. Development of writing allowed verbal knowledge to be codified, repeated, passed on exponentially and has allowed humanity to release and transfer knowledge on an epic scale.

In terms of my current dual concept (physical spaces and inner spaces) perhaps the written word can be equated to light paths? I have been somewhat obsessed with text in textiles for quite sometime, so is this a new connection made?!

Action: look up some photographs / scans of the human brain’s electronic activity, there must be some online

A few more thoughts on thoughts

I had time today to do a little more experimentation with my ideas for Bridget’s Getting Making workshop tomorrow. This was taking the idea behind my thread ball from yesterday’s post (which used the Japanese Temari as it’s inspiration) and pushing it a bit further. This was the result:

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The piece came out reasonably well I thought considering I was following instinct rather than a plan. The curved wood pieces are meant to represent the curved bones of the skull, which is the physical container for our Minds, together with the neurones, blood vessels etc which make it all work. So what then are thoughts made of? I quite like this concept, I think it is really rich and has a lot of potential. I am also quite pleased with having unshackled myself from the constraint of making something useful straight away. These last few pieces were a lot more interesting than the ready made lampshades.

Also today I stared investigating the properties of paper clay – making a pierced pot and a small model. I am looking forward to see what they are like once fired. I am keen to push the transparency qualities that paper clay can have when very thin.

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ANT xx