Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thesis posts #21-25

Thesis Post #25: Sensory Perception
originally posted 1/13/09

Fun infographic from the Boston Globe!

via neurophilosophy

Thesis Post #24: duck or rabbit?
originally posted 1/8/09

Pretty much everyone has seen this famous illusion at some point...

Simon Cunningham takes it to a new level making a photographic version. awesome.

As fun as these illusions are though, they tell us important information about the way the brain processes visual information. They show the ability of the brain to maintain multistable perceptions. In this example there are two mutually exclusive images to be seen. The duck and the rabbit. You cannot see both the duck and the rabbit simultaneously, instead your brain shifts back and forth between the two perceptions. Other examples of ambiguous figures like this include (most famously) the Necker Cube and old-lady/young-woman illusion (not sure of proper name).

If you wanted to apply this idea to typography, this is the same phenomena that allows the middle character to be read as both '13' and 'B'...

This technique is sometimes used in logotypes. I need to look for some examples...


Thesis Post #23: Post thoughts + Museum Marathon
originally posted 12/22/08

I was thinking again about what I said earlier about expanding this blog to include design inspiration. But as I have also said before I already have a blog for design inspiration, and so it seems stupid to have to categorize which blog the inspiration is relevant to. So the plan at the moment will be to keep this a research blog, and keep the inspiration on the other blog. If I post something on the other blog that is relevant to my thesis project then I will post a link to it here. Or maybe even just repost it.

So while on the topic of relevant inspiration....

I really like going to museums, and I had some free time the last few days, so lets just say I went to more than a few museums. And I don't just rush through to say I went, I'm usually the straggler that has to get kicked out because the museum closed 25 minutes ago.

I will be posting all of the inspiration on my other blog as I just said, but below is and outline of what is to come.

All of these will become updated links as I work on posting everything...


Pt 1: Tate Britian: Turner Prize 08

Pt 2: Tate Britian: Francis Bacon

Pt 3: Tate Britian: Misc

Pt 4: Garden History Museum

Pt 5: Haribo Heaven (I am telling you it was extremely inspirational)

Pt 6: Tate Modern: Misc (this was at least my 5th trip there)

Pt 7: Science Museum: Japan Car

Pt 8: Science Museum: Birth of Hi-tech Britain

Pt 9: Science Museum: Listening Post

Pt 10: Science Museum: Plasticity

Pt 11: V&A: Fashion V Sport

Pt 12: V&A: Cold War Modern: Design 1945-7

Pt 13: V&A: Misc

Pt 14: Natural History Museum: Misc

Pt 15: Wellcome Collection: War + Medicine

Pt 16: Wellcome Collection: The Watch Man

Pt 17: Wellcome Collection: Medicine Man

Pt 18: Wellcome Collection: Medicine Now

Pt 19: Barbican: Curve Art Installation

Pt 20: Barbican: On the Subject of War

Pt 21: Barbican: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro


So much exhibition design inspiration it's not even funny.
I also have so many out of control sketches of the design and layouts of all of these exhibits it's ridiculous.


Thesis Post #22: Neuroesthetics, Love and Literature
originally posted 12/18/08

Finally got around to retyping my notes from the Semir Zeki and A S Byatt's Lecture at University of Bristol a few weeks ago.
Lost my notes twice already, thank you very little safari, third times a charm.

Not ideal, but I am going to organize my notes just with bullets and indentations.

A lot of the notes are very simple/obvious. There was soo much more covered, the main goal of my notes was just to trigger my memory about everything discussed since I couldn't is all down at the time.

Regular type represents notes from the lecture,
Italics represent my personal thoughts and reactions at the time the topics were discussed.



• The potential for reward is in a sense more fulfilling than the actual reward in contributing to happiness

• The anticipation is better than the actual thing

• Transgression of the forbidden, heightens the pleasure, or potential for pleasure

• Freud pinpoints love as the only time that a person goes out of his narcissistic state

•Is love a disease?

- Zeki argues 'yes' in the sense that if you were to go to a hospital to take the reading of your bodily functions and levels you would find chemicals such as serotonin and others that differ from the normal level

- Comparison of love and obsessive compulsive disorder

• Can neuroscience ever explain fully the importance of the metaphor?

• Why is it so important to us that one thing must represent another?
- Art usually seeks to express with metaphors, therefore will neuroscience ever be able to fully explain art
- Zeki never fully argues whether neuroscience will be able to or not

• Zeki speaks of the incapacity of the human brain to fully realize the concepts behind a work of art, if all the metaphors were completely realized, it would destroy the art

(what about the artist? Are they unconscious of the metaphors they are creating? Can they not fully be realized even by him due to his own lack of knowledge of all human nature and instinct? Or is the artist aware, but because meaning may be different between persons, is it that reason it can never be fully realized by anyone other than the person that created it? Is this discussed further in his book?)

• Zeki wonders if you can ever be fully satisfied with a metaphor?
(Possibly because it is always going to be a one-step removed indirect means?)

• The task of art can be so great at times, to create a single metaphot for what is to be expressed
-i.e. artist (name?) wanted to make a painting to represent all of the women he loved but could never have

• Zeki said the only way to have a successful single metaphor is to freeze an experience and not allow it to change or develop
(not fully sure what that means if there is an example of it or if it is only theoretical ideal)

• In mothers, passive activity in their brain when they look at their child (baby) is the same as lovers looking at each-other
- Except hypothalamus is not active (involved with sex)
- Both follow same basic pattern of love in the brain

• Cognitive thinking triggering physical response question asked by audience, such as getting butterflies when you see your lover. Is there are difference between the sexes?
- Seki hasn't seen large difference between male and female brain differences, hasn't seen any convincing evidence that there is a difference
- Male behavior in falling in love is very similar to female, possibly not as complex.

• Audience question about if animals experience love and happiness and attachment in the same was as people do
- Voles-> Neurochemically become very attached to each-other, become suicidal if partner is removed, also happens with monkeys

- Dogs-> Attach themselves obsessively and almost jealously to a particular person, just as people may to each-other

- Animals do have memory and desire, only problem for them is they do not have language to communicate it with
(Debatable? What about whales/dolphins communication with each-other, birds, etc etc?)

• Zeki wonders if even our language is adequate for fully expressing emotions such as love
- A S Byatt argues our language is adequate, while Zeki is not convinced, why then are their some emotions such as love, or powerful visuals experience, etc that are so strong yet intangible so they cannot be described verbally?

• Zeki does not believe in paternal love (audience looked shocked).
He beleieve that fathers see their children as a product of themselves so they have a more selfish/narcissitic love compared to maternal love, which is more genuine.

• Romantic love VS Maternal love
- Both are preparing for agressive behavior,
- Both follow almost same basic brain pattern

- Zeki proposed a 3 year max on passionate love
- Audience member tries to convince him citing Shakespear's Antony and Cleopatra, Zeki is not convinced


(^A S Byatt on left, Semir Zeki on right)

Thesis Post #21: I have an improved/clarified/simplified idea of exactly what my thesis project will consist of.
originally posted 12/15/08

To put it short and sweet...

I am going to be designing an exhibition about neuroesthetics and visual perception.

The vehicle for communication will be exhibition design, and the content of that exhibition will consist of selected research about neuroesthetics and visual perception. Specifically, it will give an overview of the fields, their recent developments, as well as hopefully express the relevance of these fields to art and design and how having an understanding of visual perception and neuresthetics will lead to creating more effective visual communication.


A problem I have been having is that my research for content and research for design has been blurry. The closest example I can think of is if you were making a book about typography. The emphasis of that project could be on the typographical layout of the content, or on creating the verbal content for the book. So, I had important realization, that at the very core of my project, the most important part needs to be the design (mainly exhibition and information). As much as I love researching the content for it, I am not a neurology or psychology major, this is not a neurology or psychology thesis, it is a communication design thesis. My main goal needs to be creating the most effective visual design to communicate the content. Because the content of my exhibition is so intriguing to me, I might choose to pursue that field of interest further, but for now, it needs to be all about the design.

Also, as a result of this realization, the content of this blog needs to expand, to not only research about neuroesthetics/perception/etc. It also needs to contain is visual research and inspiration in the areas of exhibition, information, environmental, and interactive design, etc.

I guess that about sums it all up.
More research to come, inspiration, semir zeki lecture notes, exhibition visits, etc etc etc!


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