Summative Reflection for Field Assessment

Painting Performance –

Within this module I was challenged and taken out of my comfort zone of making conscious decisions of what I wanted to achieve at the end of the making process within my work. The boundaries and limits I was setting myself and the structure in which I created work before this experience were strongly questioned. In opening myself up to a broader understanding I learnt how I can express myself in developing my own personal language within the flow of paint, from the energy of my body onto the paper onto which it landed. In daring to express myself within the present moment of performance, it helped me release bad energy like worries and insecurities out of my body and project them into the work. I came to an understanding that the process of making and creating is just as important as the final outcome of the work I was producing.

Working within groups was beneficial for me as it helped me to develop my team building skills, learning from others, from different techniques to bring all our ideas together creating our own unique performances. Working within a team in this module helped me gain confidence within myself and my practice as well as gain confidence to perform in front of my peers, something which I wouldn’t have had the courage to do before this experience. In seeing the hard work pay off within our group by getting a 1st class mark for our final performance really made the dedication that all of us put in feel that it was appreciated by our tutor. This experience has given me the self-assurance that I can further develop the ideas that have arisen from this module. This experience has not only enhanced my confidence and knowledge of performing and performance art, but it has also helped me develop technical skills in video editing, using film to capture the performance process and has helped me develop new skills with different computer software packages that I wouldn’t have known about without this module. In learning these skills I have come to understand the fundamental components that have to be considered and understood before the performance is completed.

Overall I feel that the knowledge I gained from painting performance will contribute to my subject work as it has given me the confidence and skills to be freer within my practice. Within painting performance I learnt that the process of making and producing art is just as important as the final outcome. In understanding this, I feel that this way of making will help me to encapsulate more emotion and meaning within my work and practice. Participating in this area of performance art has made me more aware of myself, developing different skills and ideas to capture both the physical and mental aspects of myself within my work which I will carry into and develop in my future work.

Art and the Conscious Mind

In the second field module, Art and the conscious mind, I got to delve further into what is consciousness and how significant an element it is for us as human beings to have. Each week we had a lecture which was filled with lots of philosophical and psychological information and examples. After each lecture I felt that I needed to do some research into the background of the topics we came across each week to keep up with understanding of the material we were given. Each week the logic of what we thought was right was challenged and questioned with evidence and theories that contradicted our everyday thinking. I feel that I learnt a lot about how the conscious and unconscious mind responds to visual information and how our perception can be altered and changed due to our awareness or lack of awareness of the world around us. These lectures and practical sessions, made me delve deeper into works of art I have enjoyed before-hand and see the mind of the artist through the work. Something which I found extremely interesting was that in looking at paintings we can identify humans and landscapes unconsciously within them as if they were a window into that time period and the eye with which the artist has seen. However, at the same time, we are aware consciously that the painting we are looking at is not living and is just mud placed on a canvas to represent something. Another piece of information that resonated with me within Art and the conscious mind was how, as Sigmund Freud said, we are the only beings that can reflect on our feelings, we can see that we see, feel that we feel. We can reflect back our experiences with the world and as artists I believe that we reflect this back through our artwork. I believe that there is a part of the artist within the work and a part of the experience in which, as viewers, we can share and in contrast have our own experiences projected onto a piece of art.

I believe, Art and the conscious mind has influenced me and my work as it has opened my mind into ways of thinking about my work in a philosophical, psychological and spiritual way. It has unearthed my Ideas about the body and where boundaries between the mind and the outside world lie and it has also made me think deeply about my sculptural and painting work I have previously made within the subject. I feel that this module has given me more knowledge and understanding of the conscious mind giving me a foundation on which I can further build my knowledge. I have learnt, through further reading, of how the mind works when faced with art. This will help me in developing my ideas and outcomes this year, giving me a basic knowledge which I can build upon and develop through into my final year.

Overall Reflection

Overall I feel that both field modules have taken me down paths and made me explore and helped me gain knowledge and experience in areas that I wouldn’t have naturally experienced otherwise. I feel that with this expanded understanding of self and process this will help me in producing work within my subject work and I believe will resonate with me throughout my final year. I have been challenged in both the way in which I think about creating work and in feeling that the process of making and creating is just important as the final outcome. In both modules I was questioned and challenged on how and why I make the work I am creating within subject as well as how I can effectively hold my audiences engagement with my artworks consciously and unconsciously.

In painting performance by working in groups I felt team building was a key component which helped me develop confidence to freely express myself through the movement of my body and mark making. I got the develop skills of film editing and how to use different kinds of video processes to capture the performance, skills I wouldn’t have obtained without this module. I also got to gain a further understanding of how to create different performances and how planning is vitally important in creating a thought provoking and inspiring performance. Within the development of my studio practice I have become more free in mark making. However in re-evaluating my work after this module I feel that, it has made me more aware that I feel performance will not express the issues I am trying to capture within the present moment of my studio practice. Painting performance has made me understand and feel that in regards to my studio practice that I am going in the right direction in capturing the fragility of the human condition.

In Art and the Conscious mind, I got to expand my knowledge and in creating a basic understanding of what the conscious is in regards to visual perception. I wish to develop a further understanding through reading and deep thinking, as well as creating work within the subject in response to the knowledge and information I have gained throughout this module. I believe that this has knocked down some boundaries allowing me to think more freely and has given me the ammunition to go out and delve deeper into philosophy and psychology in regards to visual perception and what it is to be human. Within my development of my studio practice, it has made me question what I am trying to capture within my work and challenge the context which I build the work on. The understanding I have developed within this module will have an effect on the work I create and make me question if it is of effect to the audience which perceives it.

Visceral Sculpture


DSC00579In finding how wax reacted with tights and wool string I decided to create a piece in reflection to what I learned within field both bringing the freedom I got within painting performance and looking at how visual indeterminacy creates an opening for the unconscious mind to relate to our mental states. With this sculpture I bound the bones with no planning on a shape or structure I wanted to create, letting the string show as I bound them together.DSC00588 I felt as if I was trying to recreate the creature it came from without knowing what it looked like visually. In this healing process I wrapped the bones in tights and then began my layering process with the wax. In letting the wax fall more freer not trying to fix the drips the wax created I made a completely different texture from anything I have done before. Using blues and reds to illustrate the living creature that pumped oxygenated and de-oxegenated blood around its body to its muscles that it once used to be able to move. I feel that in this piece I was letting the material speak for itself and decide what was going to happen to create itself.

DSC00593When I started to use the heat gun on the sculpture not only did it blend parts of the wax on it, It ate away the creatures nylon flesh exposing the raw bone underneath with dyed string around them, representing the tendons and veins within the creature. When creating this piece I couldn’t help but feel as if I was inflicting pain on something I was trying to set free and help heal. DSC00589The ambiguity of the piece is something that I wanted as it make the audience go into it looking at the exposed body. I felt that this piece with no obvious limbs or head doesn’t judge you or look at you looking at it, it has in fact passed these stages and has suffered extreme pain as it has been ripped to pieces, opened up, experimented on, and ultimately used.

This creature has been used and is now useless it has suffered and in a way it is still suffering as it holds all the life meat does. In reading “Francis Bacon, The Logic of Sensation, by Deleuze”, I feel that this quote is fitting in what I wanted to achieve within this sculpture

“Meat is not dead flesh; it retains all the sufferings and assumes all the colours of living flesh… every man who suffers is a piece of meat.DSC00574

I feel that this sculpture is a victim, or a martyr that suffered for others. It is such a personal piece for me as even though it doesn’t represent any physical appearance to an animal or human it holds all the pain that it has felt within it, by being skinned, broken and pulled apart. This piece encapsulates the abuse that this creature went through to get to this fragile state of suffering.  DSC00587

Nicola Samori

20150511-135052.jpgAn artist I have recently came across is Nicola Samori for her paintings and sculptures. Her paintings are highly influenced by Renaissance paintings, however her work becomes contemporary for the way in which people are displayed within the paintings. The bodies and heads go beyond their contours stretching and extending out of the the mortal flesh of the being into another dimension. I feel that her paintings have more emotion than a lot of renaissance paintings as you don’t have to understand the bodies of faces depicted as a structurally correct anatomy. 20150511-135030.jpgBut in fact her work, both in sculpture and painting, gives us more truth of the being depicted mentally. Her work to me is giving a truer representation of the human condition than any renaissance painting could ever achieve with its limitations to look visually “correct”. I feel that in altering the structure of how we observe the human body, she has brought to the surface our existence beyond our mortal flesh.





My Presentation for Art and the Conscious Mind


This was the slides from the PowerPoint I presented to the group on our last week of art and the conscious mind highlighting what I have taken away from it and ways in which it has changed my perception of my work and the work of others. I am going to explain in this post what I said within my presentation.

  1. presentation2In this first slide it is an image of JWM Turner’s “Rocky bay with figures”. This piece holds a lot of ambiguity, leaving a lot to the imagination making the image almost impossible to predict its true nature. It is evident in this piece that the idea of seeing and knowing in the first lecture we had and how seeing- knowing= visual indeterminacy creates fascination of the piece. Objects are unidentifiable in this piece making us see things that aren’t really there. Our brain picks up the shapes made and creates something that is formless into form making sense of the artwork. The painting is realistic in a sense as Turner is painting the light coming off the structures and objects rather than the objects themselves. He makes the point that it is not what you see it is the process of how you see is within his work.
  2. presentation3This second image is of Francis Bacon’s ” Three studies for a crucifixion”. The work in this triptych are deeply suggestive, giving us more than just an illustration as it is more powerful. Bacon’s work is recorded as close to his nervous sensations through painting with the figure being encoded within the paintings, suggesting the mental state of the artist. He gives us an visceral image which we can project our own memories of brutal imagery that we have come across. He makes us see how the Mental state may make the physical body feel.
  3. presentation4The third slide shows you the work of Berlinde de Bruyckere “Cripplewood”. This is a massive installation piece which is a dead tree made to look like a deformed body. Without a head or eyes or any distinct features however we can read it as a being and can relate to its human like forms. Traced from mythology the work is ambiguous. She casts the idea of human existence and what it is to be human into a material form suggesting a fragility, defenselessness and vulnerability in the work.  Her work reminded me of when we talked about Sigmund Freud’s ideas on the conscious and how the conscious lets us become aware of our senses letting us reflect on our experiences, we can feel what we feel. We can react to this work in a similar way as the artist has en-captured her reflection of feeling within the piece. The piece is also aware of its self and its own existence holding its own mental properties. Giving us as the audience an look into the mental body and our boundaries and lack of boundaries the body holds. E.g. A deer can smell you 1 km away from where it is standing, your odour is a part of you, you are spreading over thew world.
  4. presentation5With my work I have been looking at Animatism (how a living soul can be inside an inanimate object). When using bone in my work I am very aware of its matter and how it was once a part of a living animal,, it en-captures the spirit of the animal and also the mental state at which I made the work. I have been trying to capture the fragility of the human body and mental state. I want to capture something that is more powerful than a copy of a person, I want to compact sensations and feelings within the body and mind that is universal to all of us within my work. This Field option has helped me further my ideas of the conscious mind and ways it has closely related to my work.

The self awareness of the conscious mind

Cranach Adam EveLucas Cranach- The elder Adam and Eve. This was a popular subject in 16th century art and is an interesting painting in terms of self awareness. It is capturing the moment in the biblical story where Eve takes a bite from the apple from the tree of knowledge and is about to give the apple to Adam. Adam in doubt, she has been transformed by eating a piece. The animals around them lived in a semi aware blissful state, after there is more self awareness with Adam and Eve. It is a process we all go through as babies are born in a blissful state and don’t even know they exist having a continuous blissful state and acquire later on that we are separate from the world and within conflict within the world. We are thrown out of our own garden of Eden by consciousness. No body knows like humans of our own existence, our own minds and unique position we occupy. Humans are the only beings that can reflect on their own mind.

Within this painting, how do we know that Adam is confused and how do we know Eve knows more? We project our own minds and experiences to this piece. In order  to be able to appreciate the human drama we appreciate the thoughts and feelings of others. How to display paint on this way, what it looks like to feel these emotions, there must be an enormous amount of self awareness of us, the viewer and self awareness of the artist is needed. The plant covering their genitals is of modesty in Genesis 3:6- The tree of knowledge, make one wise, knew they were naked, biblical awareness of consciousness, self-aware humans are uniquely self conscious.

Locating the self aware mind

we can be conscious without being aware of it. Self consciousness is aware of the existence of self we can be self aware but self conscious.

Meta-self awareness-  Alain Morin 1995- The capacity to reflect on our own mind layered, Complex and integrated, not a monolithic unified state (mind)

The mirror test 

What makes something self aware?

the-mirror-testPutting a red blob of paint on the forehead of an infant or ape and telling them to look into the mirror, they will try to rub the red dot off on the mirror, thinks it is something else. After 18 months  the infant will rub the dot off its own head, developing self awareness as he or she knows that they are apart of the the world through self awareness. Other animals have passes this test like dolphins, humans. elephants and apes they all have an understanding that the reflection is itself and all have qualities of awareness of self however humans are the only one to have meta self awareness.

Robots ? Some robots have passed this test of being self aware, it worked out its self  awareness, artificial intelligence, self aware machine, desirable goal to create artificial consciousness.

What is the self that is aware of itself?

“I think therefore I am” -Pescartes

Western philosophy- self reflective thinker center. To think at all you must exist, to be a thinking being is to exist, self personal existence.

William James- The sum total of all that he can call his not only his body and his psychic powers. Spread out connections are a part of you e.g. clothes.

Antonio Damaso- Core self (immediate awareness of self and the world. Autobiographical self (knowledge of history, family, past, future events, social behaviour and rules).

David Rosenthal- Higher order of thoughts, (different) no part of the mind is in itself conscious or part of the self it is only that one part of the mind thinks it’s aware of the other parts.

Dan Zahavi- Denies Rosenthal saying that the consciousness lies within our thoughts, the mental state of consciousness.

Husserl’s -Inter-subjectivity, properties of the whole subject, we only have minds because others have. If we didn’t know you were thinking I wouldn’t know that I am a separate being or even existed. If we could get into someones  mind we would be able to distinguish that the minds have own self existence and would be able to distinguish boundaries.

Shaun Gallagher- Importance to physical body functions, mind isn’t phenomena meaning and purpose of our mental life is connected of the physical things that we interact with world around us.

Galen Strawson- Pearl theory of self- we have blobs of awareness loosely connected together, each blob can be a mental can move into the next, reacting to things that happen to us each is a mental self.

Thomas Metzinger- Fictious, imaginary of self awareness, illusion, no such things of self exists within the world, all you have is an illusion one “self” does not exist.

Something is happening but the explanation of why is a from an age of superstition. Rethink what we believe is self.

Logical problems with the self-conscious mind

Not possible of yourself thinknig about yourself. without simply thinking about yourself, can’t think about what you are thinking about.

Vicious circles and infinity by Patrick hughes illustrates that a camera cannot take a photo of its own self as a hammer cant nail itself you cannot turn the mind in on itself as it is the thing that thinks.

drawing_handsWhich hand is drawing the other?

The problem of where the mind exists- a single moment of thought, looking, printing developed, somewhere in the brain projected, there is people within the brain that analyse, metaphorically working. Self awareness, we are aware of the car, thinking about thinking, 1950 text book cinema theory illustrates the brain inside the brain.

HomunculusHomunculus- Has experience, represented how the nervous system, sensory parts of the brain devoted to the hands, something inside representing living inside of us. The numskulls give us the idea that something is controlling inside.

Dennet- this cannot happen- inner creature, infinite Cartesian theatre cannot happen and this infinite chain cannot happen as something needs to report back of what is being seen this link needs to be broken.numskulls_thumb

I am aware of myself- of referring of something, turning self into an object.

  • I have a toothache – can’t own a toothache it is part of what I am.
  • I have a bicycle- how to separate.

We should say I am a toothache, could we say this about a bicycle? Self awareness separating us.

Mallarme- Trying to think about his own thoughts thinking, this nearly sent him crazy. We are not used to thinking about what we think with, disorientated, disturbing. Paradox of introspection (Schooler and Schreiber)- what we believe we are thinking can be different from what we are actually thinking.

People do not realise that their minds have wandered or are not aware of mental responses that are given away by psychological behaviour. wondering- not aware of what you are thinking and can loose control.

Paradox of self consciousness- I in a sentence- pre-supposes what it means to be an I or a self is, this is an impossibility.

Paradox of explanation (McGinn) – we are limited to our own form. Can an object ( like a mind explain itself we will never understand how our mind works).

All explanations of the self conscious mind seem to end in logical paradox or infinite regression. e.g. a hammer cannot nail itself. We cannot understand what is going on in our own mind.

Rather being a dead end? Within that there is the solution to the problem telling us what is going on, mind must be paradoxical and there is a truth. Infinite regress- Regress to infinity. between two mirrors. There is two kinds of infinite regress.6iL6BP6

  • Conceptual Regress- Going to infinity.
  • Infinite Regress- an elephant or turtle is what is holding the earth up-  1.3333333333….. turtle-earth

All examples are conceptual, no one has counted in 3rds in 1.33333…. it is impossible to do.

  • Physical Regress- Two mirrors looking into infinity, physical system, physics sorts itself out , light is stable/ static orderly pattern grounded in solid physics of reality.

A video camera pointing into a projector at a precise angle, feeding back what the camera is seeing, video feedback, internal physical properties of the video camera, camera is not recording anything. Feedback gives rise to complex behaviour. It bursts into itself, enough of its own image works with digital, found patterns in nature as well within tribes, cellular division same patterns, organic process in the way matter behaves looking at itself.


Self consciousness us not part of the mind, but the result of different parts of the mind reflecting on each other. How will this might fit together? what gives us our self- conscious mind. Can we think like a massive feedback loop. Freud- What is consciousness, something that is sensing our own senses.

David Roserthal- higher order thoughts, higher order states, like what we do as children through self reflection, sound making, and looking into the mirror, children make a noise and the reflection of the sound back to them builds up a self awareness within the world.

Hofstadter 2007- works of Godel Escher; Back how they use self awareness to create. How the mind works, symbols, elements of mental processing memories. I am a strange loop of mind awareness. Self comes into being the moment it can reflect on itself.

Crick and Koch- It is not the brain that makes us conscious . It is a loop of the brain, results neuro-representation of the world, mental activities, not aware of our thoughts in the world.

Zen Buddhism- Sekida 1985- How the mind works, man thinks unconsciously, thinks without noticing, by reflecting this he finds consciousness.


  • ” It’s a nice day.”- not conscious, an unconscious reaction to the world.
  • ” I just thought it was a nice day.”
  • “I just noticed that I noticed it’s a nice day.”
  • “I’ll miss my bus.”

Every now and then you pick out you have a thought about a thought you think you thought, you have to have another thought about it.

In cinema, even digital cinema, every still, frame in the movie is a still, nothing is moving in each frame, if played fast we have a strong sense of motion.

Nothing moves in movies but you think it is moving.

Nen theory is like stills thinking of thought, appear to be conscious within sequence, mind reflecting on another, creating self.

Self awareness in Art

Man whose eyes have been turned inward from Bartisch. Something looking at self.bartisch-1583-eyesbackinhead

Paintings stated to become aware of themselves and not just a depiction of illustration process, paintings started to refer to it own existence.

johannes-gumpp-self-portrait-1646-1342563079_org (1)Johannes Gumpp – Self portrait. We don’t see the front of the artists head, however we see it twice. The artwork is referring to itself as an artwork it is referring to its own existence as a painting , paint on the physical surface of canvas, paint painting that is a painting, conceptual development. On the left it is real bit is also fabricated as it is a painting. All is evident, process of painting is in the painting , painting a process of painting. You looking at him looking at you, awareness looking on how painting becomes aware. Stoichitg- Stand where he stood where he was painting him over his own shoulder.

Gysbrechts_Reverse side of painting.pgCornelius Gijsbrechts-making painting that is illusion. National Gallery London dark space leaning on a podium, “that is the back of a painting” the front of a painting of the back of a painting, painting of fabric of the canvas, simple strongest, self referential, painting of what paintings are, paradoxical, true and false at the same time.

When artists realise they were making paintings- they recognised painting in its own right, absolute state , painting aware of itself, same period of self-reflection in philosophy.

Descartes optiks: turning the eye on itself paradox, trying to understand vision looking on itself, paradox, trying to understand vision looking into an eye. Cows eye cut, image comes through the eye upside down , looking at the back of the eye, inside there must be something looking. The seeing must be aware of self.

braque_still-life_with_violin_and_pitcher_1910Braque- Still life with violin- cubist, refer to themselves the act of being made nail sticking out not looking at a still life you are looking at a painting of a painting of the world, nail changing our understanding of the piece. paints its own condition of painting, reflective process of art.

au-bon-marche-1913Picasso- Au Bon Marche 1913- this is a college of itself of a piece of art, about Paris. This could be cafe scene with a woman at the table all contradictions within the picture which tells you it is deep/flat, flat wallpaper, contradiction between depth and flatness within painting. Sexual reference legs as well, newspaper- they where themselves inter- relationship essay about what painting is depth and space, everyday world self referential portrait.

clairvoyanceMagrette- Clairvoyance, painting pretending to be paint, paint pretending to be skin. Attempting the impossible, temperamental, reality appears logical, but is more paradoxical than first imagined.

21de946cKosuth- Clear square glass leaning, work of art which is purely about itself only nothing to them demonstrations of own existence try to avoid but bring references to memory place in art history, implications which can’t be kept out of circle of meaning. Art’s only claim for art.

cindy-sherman-untitled-film-still-56-1980Cindy Sherman- Untitled film 1980- looking at something which isn’t, could be a still from a movie, knowledge referred to it, she is looking at herself we only see the reflection, paradoxical, complex interrelated potential meaning.

Arthur Danto- what Sherman does, brings things in the back of our minds forward, common heritage brings to the surface, we come to the reflection of ourselves and our own conscious.

JennyHolzer-TimesSquareJenny Holzer- Protect me from what I want- personal declaration.

04057-(BK)Barbara Kurger- I shop therefore I am- subtle meaning, how art becomes , stand in for itself can become the artist themselves within the work.

Simple statements , when thinking with self aware minds, becomes complex than one might appear.

What would a self aware artwork be like?

Self aware machines, value of work of art that, how we can make a self aware work of art. Towards a self aware artwork, like a camera looking in on itself. Video mixer more than one signal in all went back into the television, not feedback from monitor to camera but have other sensory environments being effected, loop, how the mind might work.

Summary of the self aware mind

What is a self? It might be one thing, a collection of things or nothing.

Thinking about self consciousness leads to paradox and infinite regress.

Infinite regress can be a useful and productive process.

Paradox can be creative.

Artists have celebrated and exploited self-reference, paradox and regression.



Today we looked at a piece of work created by a PhD student, Craig Thomas called Labyrinth. We were asked to think two questions when we went into his Labyrinth made up of net curtains and a projector, projecting lines going up and down.

The questions we were asked to think about when in the space was:

  • how does it effect my body?
  • How does this make me feel?

He wanted his audience to react in a certain way and be effected a particular way, to provoke an emotion response. For me experiencing this piece it made me feel like I was sinking when the lines go up and floating when the lines go down after a while it felt like the lines were remaining stationary and that my body was elevating and sinking when in reality I wasn’t moving at all. It was hard to convince myself that my body was remaining stationary during this experience. It also made me feel a bit nauseous and dizzy, it felt like parts of my body was getting condensed and stretched out and I could feel my insides being moved and disturbed with these moving lines.

The piece overall was very powerful. The intentions of the artist was to make you more aware of your body, to feel a sense of pressure and heaviness changing to a sense of weightlessness and lightness as if floating.

Space- It gives you space to feel the weight of the world. Heavy sinking when lines go down. Some people responded differently saying that the lines going down made you feel like you were going up and the pressure was going down.

Stimulus- We can naturally orientate ourselves even with our eyes shut. The vertical lines help us naturally orientate ourselves through the world like pro-perception tells us were our hands are. The artist wanted to challenge internal systems and tap into certain emotions within his audience and I believe he has successfully done so.

The Unity and Rationality of the Conscious Mind

CARRIERE A2436/2953T 308
Monet- Rouen Cathedral
Litchenstein -Rouen Cathedral V

Today we looked at Litchenstein’s  interpretation of Rouen Cathedral  by Monet. When looking at Litchenstein’s interpretation in the flesh it is said to make you feel dizzier the closer you get to the piece. I have seen this painting of Monet in the museum in Cardiff. When looking at the Litchenstein’s interpretation  we were asked what is going on within the mind when perceiving this piece? Are you seeing one thing or many things? The dots are evident but it I and many others were unable to see the cathedral and when we saw the cathedral did we see the dots anymore? We were asked could we see the dots and the cathedral or the dots and then the cathedral?  You as a viewer are seeing things that are dots but you are also seeing a cathedral that isn’t there. Is the dots one layer and the Cathedral another?

Is your experience of seeing the painting rational? If you believe you can see the cathedral and the dots at the same time you are being irrational as you are believing two things at the same time.

Do you have one mind or many? 

Is you mind Rational or Irrational?

No one chooses to be irrational but we are aware when we are being irrational

The Unity of the Conscious Mind

Most people believe their mind is united, that minds are generally a single thing.

Descartes– There is a vast difference between the mind and the body in respect that the body from its nature is always divisible and that the mind is entirely indivisible. He is Basically saying you cannot chop the mind in half it is a single unified experience.

Kant- The mind is unified. The mind is full of different things. Feeling and thinking wouldn’t be part of him if they did not come together to create him.

Von Der Malsberg- The location of the consciousness, He was a neurologist who investigated that experience is one of unity of monolithic coherence. All monolithic coherence, different stuff (the brain) creates a unity, trying to work out how the brain creates a unity of monolithic consciousness.

The Binding Problem

original-numskulls1This is a problem that has never been fully solved it is that different sensory experiences happen at different times or parts. You can see colour and shape at the same time but they are different processes in different areas of the brain for example we see a red skirt we can see the redness of the skirt and the shape of the skirt but we are perceiving it as a red skirt.

Bayne and Chalmers 2003- The conscious mind may have many things going on at the same time but different perceptions happen, not just a conjunction of conscious states. It is also a conscious state in its own. Another layer must occur that binds them all together.

Dainton 2003- The stream of consciousness- Continuity linked to experience you are having now moves on a linear way.

CorpusCallosum222Corpus Callosum- Doesn’t support the unified conscious experience . This is the bridge like tissue that is inbetween the two halfs of the brain. It is a fine structure of neuron threads.

People who suffer strong epileptic fits, surgeons cut the Corpus Callosum. This did reduce fits in patients and had no serious physical effects to the patient, it didn’t severely impair them. However many of these patients developed multiple personalities which had two different people within them with different memories who weren’t always aware of each other. Their striking personalities could even have different genders. Severing the Corpus Callosum in summary, the patients were able to function well but developed two very distinct separate minds after this procedure was carried out.

Infinite_regress_of_homunculusThe brain like a Cartesian theatre-  Image projecting into the brain- This diagram is problematic as if this was how our experiences came together, there must be someone with the knowledge to understand unity. It has to have one place specific in the brain for it to come together and this is impossible.-Dennet- We are telling a story to ourselves.

Michael Gazzaniga- Does not believe we are one self, one unity it is only a fiction.

O’Brien and Opie- Layered up channels but all remain separate channels like a multi-track tape recorder. This is saying we can think of unity but it is layered making an apparent unity but are made from layers.

Zeki-We aren’t made up of one conscious experience. We are made up of many micro-consciousness. Don’t think of visual consciousness as one, the consciousness of colour and consciousness of shape are different but a neuron glue them together.

Some experts say that consciousness is monolithic others saying that we are made up of many consciousness’s. Both have evidence for both theories.

The Rationality of the Conscious Mind

William James- Waking rational consciousness against taking narcotics. He experimented liberally to change his state of mindand alter it to see if consciousness was lost when doing so.

Being rational is very important within the law. In 1961 the lack of consciousness can be a defense in law. The case of Bratty vs Attorney general for Northern Ireland, Bratty the accused for strangling a victim to death did not plead insanity but said that he did not man to do it,he had a ‘certain blackness’ come over him from his psychomotor epilepsy. So in order to be guilty of the crime you had to be rational at the time of the act.

“automatism”- Bratty was equitted of the charge. He was capable of the action but it was an involuntary action and wasn’t conscious of what he was doing this is called automatism.

Are we rational?

People were asked, if you could save £10 on a £50 bill if you drive to a petrol station of the other side of town. Most people would do this to save £10.

They were then asked, if you could save £10 on the price of a £5000 computer if you drive the same distance as before. Most people wouldnt do this even though it is the same amount of money they are saving.

We would think they should react the same as it is the same amount of money they are saving, all had an irrational approach to this decision. When choice is given to people it is more likely that they will make a more irrational decision.

Kahneman Tversky- More people die in car accidents than plane, but we are more anxious getting onto a plane than a car.

Irrational thinking – If a coin flip came up getting heads 100 times we think it is more likely to come up tails than heads but it could be forever heads or forever tails.

Muller-Lyer-illusion_variation (1)

Which line is longer A or B? B looks longer so most would say that B is longer. In fact they are both the same length.

Image (9)Tunnel illusion-  These two people are the same size however looking at the person on the left he looks bigger.This is irrational. We still see them at different sizes when we know they are the same size.

Cognitive Dissonance (torn mind syndrome).

Leon Festinger 1956 -When people hold conflicting beliefs they can’t reconcile they’ll be forced to believe something even if they know it is not true.

preyingmenThe belief that the world was going to end- A group of people believed that the world was going to end on a certain year, day and time. One side of then in their own mind believed it was going to end and the other side didn’t.

Cults- Can’t cope with cognitive dissonance as they can hold highly persuasive things within our minds that we believe.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

This is like the fear of a black cat the person knows that the cat wont hurt them but believe that the black cat will harm them in some other way- This is a therapy that will try to rationalise these fears.

The Nature of Unity and Rationality

Not clear what unity and rationality means?

Unity in Collins dictionary is defined with two definitions.

  • Unity 1A state or quality of being one.
  • Unity 2The act state or quality of forming a whole from separate parts.

Unity 1- There is no examples of something that is just one thing not even an element or a proton. This definition is only possible in theory- Could be one thing/ nothing before the big bang. This is the only condition when this happened.

Unity 2- Is everywhere, the universe, Everything that exists, an infinite number of things making up the universe. E.g. Manchester United is a football team, not one player is the football team.

Most definitions of consciousness are of the kind of unity 2.

Unity is almost never being one thing, can never be a single thing, ambiguous idea.

Ambiguity of Unity 

download (6)4 discs, In order to have this unity they have distinctions within one disc and its multiple.

Unity in our understanding is rational.


Byers- How we like to believe, we are rational beings. Being driven by a scientific culture. People think we know better now, scientists tell us what is going on we can have a full understanding of the world, maths- Breakthroughs because there is ambiguitys and paradoxs.

Scientists are looking for a rational explanation for consciousness but it is this ” rational” to look for this.

Non- Contradiction- Aristotle- Metaphysics IV- ” The same attribute can not at the same time time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.” such that it is impossible for anyone to believe the same thing to be and not to be. This is a damaging idea. In western Philosophy the tradition followed this  that we must take contradictions out we are deluded that contraction mus be removed. Impossible to have one attribute ant another attribute on the same time e.g. you cant be beautiful and ugly at the same time, can’t have contradictions.

Aristotle- Can not believe two things at the same time. Can only stick to his laws when in fine areas of philosophy.


The circle is a single thing, but is more than one thing. You are separating the circle from anything else, boundaries you can not see the circle without seeing what it is not.

Jainism principle exponents satkari mookerjae. A pen is perceived as a pen and not a pen. The pen is a pen only because it has an individuality.

Any can be true or false can’t be true and false at the same time,03-BICcristal2008-03-26

  1. The pen exists. (in a certain context)
  2. The pen does not exist.
  3. The pen does exist and doesn’t.
  4. The pen is inexpressible. (beyond thought however this doesn’t bean it is not real)
  5. The pen exists and is inexpressible.
  6. The pen doesn’t exist and is inexpressible.
  7. The pen exists and does not exist and is inexpressible.

Non-Absolutism- There is no one point of view of which anything can be understood.

The dialectic of seven-fold prediction as it is called is central to the main doctrine of non-absolutism.

Blind_monks_examining_an_elephantNon-absolutism- The seven blind monks are all touching an object and each thought it was different saying it was soft and hairy, another saying it was bony and hard. They were all touching the same object which happened to be an elephant.

We can experience reality in many different ways, we may all be looking at the same thing but experience it differently.

no one has the absolute definitive view of the world.

Paradox- is banned from the western tradition.

  1. all natural phenomena are rational
  2. Irrational thought that exist are natural phenomena
  3. Irrational thoughts are rational

Paradox-“This statement is false”- it is true and false.

philosophy could not accept the third conclusion above as people are still today going mad over trying to solve paradoxes arriving at a contradictory conclusion. Can not accept that something can be true and false at the same time.

Visual Paradoxes 

If disunity and irrationality are basic features of the mind. How does this manifest in our experience of art?

Saying something is one thing, is saying something is not.

656px-Claude_Monet_-_Rouen_Cathedral,_Facade_(Sunset)Claude Monet- Rouen Cathedral sunset. When looking at this painting in the flesh, the surface is textured, sand etc is mixed in with the paint. When confronted with this painting I see many separate things in one painting . The multiple things at the same time hair, paint, canvas, frame come together in the painting. I see wholes and parts, sameness and difference. The clock part of the church it a whole form but is part of something else the church. Multiple layers of similarity all exist at the same time however we are aware they are all separate.

In Litchenstein’s representation I see a painting and a cathedral however there is nothing there there is no cathedral.

I see paint as paint and paint as stone or sky in Monet’s cathedral. I see paint and know it is paint but I can also believe the blue area is the sky. I see something separate from, but part of me. Painting and me are together with me but apart from me. I see flatness and depth I see the depth of the cathedral but I believe the flatness of the canvas.

There is contradiction and paradoxes in pictures. They form a whole in the experience. Pictorial representation has mysterious properties when we look at it.

the-hippopotamus-and-crocodile-huntThere is two things going on at the same time. In Ruben’s- The Hippopotamus and Crocodile hunt, all characters are vividly present with great drama and colour but at the same time we are looking at a bunch of colours represented on a flat piece of cloth. We believe there is motion occurring but there is none there is no dog, no animals or people present.

Maurice Denis- A picture is a surface covered in pigment.

rabbduck (1)To understand you can either see a rabbit or a duck but you can not see them both at the same time.

Two foldness of pictures- I can be simultaneously be visually aware of the Y I see in X and the sustaining features of perception- Wolheim

Paintings would work if who hold both states of mind at the same time- Wolheim

All pictures are paradoxes, no objects can be in two places at the same time. When we read a novel, see a painting or watch a film, do we believe in and emphasise with the characters in those? It is impossible not to.

Consciousness 1- We believe in the fiction.

Consciousness 2- We do not believe in the fiction not a real person, wouldn’t be able to be sure not fooled but can believe them at the same time- Richard Gregory

Contradiction an Paradox in works of art

Representational works of art is different from looking at something trivial.

Why if all pictures pictures are paradoxical, what makes works of art special?  It is not the medium which makes it special it is the person making it and its intention for doing so.

Why do we value painting to a photograph?- Because it embodies many more paradoxial qualities, Is denser and has a more expansive matrix of oppositions.

006d381eeed840af2e78fca32a492fd6E.g. George Braque- There is different perspectives occurring in one image, contradictions. He made his work deliberately tried to impact multiple contradictions within one pictorial and contextual incompatible states within one painting.

Gormbrich 1961- A clash of contrary clues which resist all attempts to apply the test of consistency.

Trying to convey the process of seeing, making you think of what you are looking at.

Spring-1573Arcimboldo- The spring. This piece is representing a flower arrangement and a persons face. Which one do we see first the flowers of the face? The face then the flowers? It is not real, there is no painting, no person, no flowers there but all are existing in the same perceptual world.

pbh-copyPicasso- Head of bull. This piece is a bicycle seat and handles welded together. When we look at it the holes in the bike seat we instantly believe they are eyes. It is powerful and effective we can believe strongly in the animal and can see components of a bike. We can see it is a photograph however it has to have this multiple meaning of layer to exist.

magritte-pipeRene Magritte- The treachery of images, it is not a pipe, it is a pipe, it is paint arranged in the form of a pipe.

work-1965Jiro Yoshihara- untitled. This is a circle but it doesn’t conform to a circle, it has properties of having a middle, an edge, an inside and an outside being there and not there. Enso within Japanese culture. Heart sutra- form is emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form and form does not differ from emptiness.

2003.6_01_d02Robert Gober-untitled. This is wax in a plastic bag. This piece is full of conflicting and contradictory ideas.Creases within the bag become creases of flesh, Painted nipples, real hair, but is also an image of hair as it is an image of a body proposition- two separate ideas insisting to appreciate them at the same time.

Rachel_whitereadwien_holocaust_mahnmal_wien_judenplatzRachel Whiteread-Holocaust Monument (2000) Judenplatz. It is the casting of the inside of a space, the negative space, space that wouldn’t be there is the part that is concrete, that doesn’t exist, exists conflicting things at the same time.

Francis Bacon-Fragments of a portrait. Bacon- well isn’t this that one a thing to be factual as possible and at the same time deeply suggestive. Unlocking suggestion- Pope looking like he is within an electric chair in contrast to the real painting to the horror creates contradictions within the mind.francis-bacon-pope-innocente-x-velazquez-comparison

Picasso- When looking at a picture one should sat that the more things it makes me think of more than one thing at once.

Contradiction in perception and the conscious mind

We are not entirely rational beings, Our mental life is not unified we see this when we look at art everyday consciousness.

Mind should be unified and differentiated at the same time. The conscious state, the quality of having a fractured unity, this phrase comes close to experiencing our mental lives

The circle, is unity as a single form and many at once.

The universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart- Spencer Brown.


Center-surround cells 


These are cells in the back of the eye that take information to the brain. If something hits the whole cell nothing happens. The job of the cell is to detect two states when there is a photon and not a photon of light.

Visual perception- Visual you are not seeing what you are seeing, what we are actually seeing is the difference between black and white. We can only touch when something changes it is the same as hearing a word so many times it loses its meaning it turns into just a sound. We don’t see things, we only see the difference between things. we draw lines to distinct ourselves.


  • Is the mind unified or fragmented?
  • Is the mind rational or irrational?
  • The idea of unity is ambiguous.
  • The idea of rationality is uncertain.
  • Pictures are paradoxical
  • Experience of art is manifold and contradictory. Artists have exploited the power that art has to have many meanings and to present us with multiple contradictions.
  • The mind can be thought of as a kind of fractured unity both one thing and many both rational and irrational.

The Unseen

How can art be used to show unseen things, and communicate unseen things?


Entopic Imagery

edvard munch disturbed vision te25These are images caused by our own body. Edvard Munch- The injured eye series. In this series of work you can see a black orb evident in the foreground this is how he saw as it was a blood clot in his retinacausing him to see this black orb with a hooked beak. The hooked beak part of the orb made the orb look crow-like however it was just the mucus in the eye that detaches  from the retina coming off the blood clot like a hook. His pieces with crayon on paper he is covering his good/ uninjured eye and looking into the mirror and recording what he seen. This is a record of entopic imagery. His artwork of this series was helpful in a medical way.

Hypnagogic Imagery

Seen by Jan Evangelista Purkyne, sensations of flying, falling, commonly visual patterns seen when you have just fallen asleep or when you have just begun to wake up or you have a knock to the head. It is not an external thing it is getting projected onto the world. Can be a part of your cultural upbringing, patterns what you are used to. Geometrical imagery is one a lot of people get no matter what culture.

pechemerleCave art- often animals with patterns on them are seen or abstract disks- Hypnagogic imagery, they can be created when rhythmic drumming occurred and drugs were taken to contact the spirits is why these type of paintings might exist. In Chauvet cave art the paintings are said to be entrails of the neither world, a path into the unknown. Artists would have been deep within these dark caves things would be seen within their minds even the way the fire moving could symbolise demons and could be reflected within their art.

Animism- Freud- Animism is the doctrine of souls and in a wider sense the doctrine of spiritual beings in general. The term “animatism” has also been used to denote the theory of the living character of what appear to us to be inanimate objects. When children were given an image of their mothers and were asked to cut the eyes out of her in the photograph most wouldn’t do it. The photograph isn’t really their mother it is just colours put on a page that is intricately positioned to create an image similar to their mother. She is not really there it is just a photograph but they feel it embodies their mothers.

9912051c72e76a8580bad0bb5452be0eDogon African masks found in Mali, West Africa. In these masks people are combined with humans. The patterns on them are patterns that have stayed within the human brain, the white dots represent power.

Madge_Gill.Madge Gill (1882-1961)- She lost her sight in one of her eyes. She says that a spirit got in contact with her. After this she made hundreds of intricate drawing as a way of contacting the spirits or beings from a higher level.

Fengyi2Guo Fengyi (1942-2010) – The Energy Channel Decomposition diagram- she had visions after meditating to cure her arthritis, she started drawing in ball point pen and dressed in red for good luck and get into a trance of meditative state and the energy flowed through her body. She often said that another being was using her body to draw.

UFO’s – There is nothing there physically but it is something the viewer sees within their heads which they project onto the world.

Carl Jung- The eyes make up things because of boredom. Pilots see UFOs because there is nothing for them to look at so their brain makes up something for them to look at and it projected onto the world.

Paul Laffoely- Thanaton III- This is a device to get you in touch with the alien life form, it is a portal to the ends of the universe.thanaton3_laffoley

The Location of the Conscious Mind

Where is the Mind?

  • In the brain?
  • In the body?
  • Neither of the above?
  • Not sure?

Where do you end?

  • Where my brain ends?
  • Where my body ends?
  • Neither of the above?
  • Not sure?

Johannes Vermeer- Woman in blue reading a letter

johannesvermeer_womaninbluereadingaletter This is a mysterious and enigmatic painting illustrating a trivial domestic scene, we the viewers, question what is going on in the painting, in her mind, in the letter, no one will ever know. This fact gives this painting power making you think about these mental things that have a significance. We question where her mind is mentally however in reality she is just made up of coloured mud on a canvas, but we as the audience believe she is a being when she is not really there at all. This woman having a conscious experience, where is this in the paint? In this post derived from a lecture will explore how works of art have mental properties when they are just chunks of matter.

If the consciousness is in the brain, then where is it?

if the consciousness is not in the brain, then where is it?

There is nothing physical within the brain- when we have vivid experiences they have no physical correlate within the brain.


The idea that the mind is in the brain.

There are no colours, smells, tastes or even objects “out there” in the world; these appearances are essentially subjective- Helmholtz.

William James- The mind is in the brain

“The physical world is utterly different from the mental world.”

“Mental activity depends on brain activity.”

It is a scientific truth that knowledge can give us a better understanding of the world

The search for the “neural correlates of consciousness”


The awareness of a thought, specific neurons correlates the experience.

Crick and Koch- Our subjective world of qualia, There is a small area of the brain those nerve cells are, our conscious being, a fraction of what is occurring within the brain.

Brain Decoding

Brain Movies

There is a new type of scanner that can scan your brain when you are having a visual experience. The computer can work out what people are seeing and thinking.

Ack Gallant- This is a major leap toward re-constructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.

When you imagine something rather than see it the machine will still pick it up because imagining is the same reaction in the brain as seeing.

necker_bwHaynes and Rees (2006)-  They did this experiment with the cube drawing seeing how people perceived the cube. Here the subjective experience changes while the image stays the same. With using the scan they could see which visual experience the person was having, predicting conscious perception.

Gillard et al (2009)- When something was occurring in the brain every part of the brain was functioning. You will never find a specific part of consciousness, it is amount of brain patterns going through the brain, consciousness can be all over.

Current state of scientific knowledge is that there is no specific area where consciousness occurs within the brain.


The idea that the mind is not in the brain.

O’Regan and Noe (2001)- How we react to the world, consciousness is an activity not a state of being, the outside world, governing the laws of sensory.

Change Blindness venice cbbunny2


These Images there is one thing that changes through each flash. This is proof that we can only observe a fraction of the world and seeing and what you are aware of are completely separate. You imagine you are seeing everything however you are not.

The world is there to interact with, to sense the world is its own form of memory when we need it e.g. for directions, however when we don’t need it we ignore it.

The observation test- Daniel J Simons

Within this video 60% of people do not see the gorilla, Inattentional blindness, this is when your eyes are taking in the important information. When you are asked to count how many times the ball was passed you brain filtered out all unneeded information in order for you to complete the task of counting. When we close our eyes we can imagine what was once there and build fractions of the picture we seen before we shut our eyes, but we don’t have this internal representation as we can’t have a vivid experience with closed eyes.

Is it the more you concentrate the less you see ? – depending on the question asked will depend on how you view the image. You could look at the same thing but have a completely different conscious experience. Our direction of attention is drawn to what we perceive as important information. We see what we want to see.

Clark- Technology, looking up in your phone is no different than looking it up in your brain. By using technology, we are spreading our minds through the world into technology. There is no difference between a external map and an internal map. Using your imagination, the world around you reminds you where you are by a feedback mechanism. Cognition leaks out of the body into the world.

Stelarc- This is an artist who uses a machine that extends him to technology. He is a performance artist who gets his pieces of machinery wired up to his nervous system, controlling it with his bodily functions. A brain is not a brain without a mobile and manipulate body.

Rupert Sheldrake – Vision is a projecting force, extending beyond the brain. Vision is rooted in the activity of the brain but is not confined to the inside of the head. The sense of being watched.

Radin (2006)- He did experiments with people making them imagine moving the direction of a beam of light and through this, it in fact altered the direction of the beam of light. The effect was real. The science shows something interesting happening and from a scientific perspective need more attention for further understanding.

Pim Van Lommel- He was a heart surgeon who observed the phenomenon of heart patients dying and are dead for 15 minutes and then revived back to life. When people become dead, many have said they were having a floating conscious experience looking down at their own body. The evidence of death was clear as the heart stopped beating and blood stopped getting to the brain. There was consciousness after someone really had died, when the body is cold? When no blood is entering the brain they are clinically dead.

Point of Death- Why are they able to report other things going on in the room which you couldn’t see with living normal vision minutes even hours later? There is no reason for these people to lie they just reported what happened to them in this conscious state.

Hydrocephalus- A man of 26 years of age, a degree in physics, normal intelligence and social behaviour, married and had children. He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus which is water causing a massive ventricular enlargement within the brain. He had no problem functioning, however the doctor told him he basically had no brain.

_58042975_013765778-1Things being lodged within the brain.

There has been a report of a man who had a nail lodged in his head by a friend putting a nail gun to his head. He couldn’t feel any pain only mild headaches a couple of days after. The brain has no sensation within it causing the man to not feel any pain. Operations can occur while you are still awake, there is no feeling of pain that occurs.

There is no evidence that a brain can generate consciousness automatically. No one has yet identified where in the brain subjective experience might be located or how it might be supported. (failure of neuroscience).

Early neurologists went to observe executions by a guillotine and did experiments with the heads straight after execution and some responded when off the body, some were even observed opening their eyes.

There are 100 million neurons in the stomach (more than the nervous system)- the stomach can be conscious.

Internalism and externalism are both supported with strong scientific evidence.

  • Do we have to choose between them
  • Only if we assume there is a boundary between the internal and external

To be inside and outside there has to be a boundary between them.


Leonardo Da Vinci- Boundary, surface, medium interposed between the air and the body. But the boundary is of invisible thickness.

What is the boundary of a tooth?- The enamel? When we zoom into the tooth or any object for that matter on an atomic level between the atoms there is gaps and within the atoms there are gaps of nothingness. On closer inspection it has no definitive boundary.

Kinds of Boundaries

Is the boundary between a liquid and the air made of liquid or air?

There is air and water, where does it end, water?, The last water molecule?

Is the boundary between a black circle and a white background black or white? Is it both a black and white boundary? there is but is it visible? does it have a physical reality?

Smith and Varzi- there are two kinds of boundaries.

Fiat Boundaries- e.g. Boarder between England and Wales, this is a non-physical thing with no physical marker.

Bona Fide Boundaries- e.g. dry land and wet land, Wales and the Irish sea, separating land from sea.

Does the boundary between England and Wales belong to England or Wales? Can there be fiat (made up) and bona fide (real) boundaries. Our minds hold the boundary between England and Wales. There is no specific location. It is the product of our minds who believe in it.

The edge of the coast- The sea bleeds into the sand and the tide comes in and out making it not clear where the boundary is. We can imagine the boundary, it is not specific to any part of the world.

A bona fide boundary is widely distributed between time and space.

“O painter, do not surround your boundaries with lines” – Leonardo da Vinci 

Where do objects end?

Do we have separations from each other? A hunter has to suppress his odour as deer can smell their scent from 1km away they can smell your presence. Your odour is a part of you, you are spreading all over the world and animals are aware of this as they have a higher accuracy of different senses from us.

Dogs know when their owners are coming home, animals can detect their owners on the other side of the world.

Skin- Is the interface between yourself and the world, connecting you to the world. It is a permeable membrane and a connection the world. We give out radiation, heat radiation we are emitting out into the world.

Quantum Physics

The Newtonian world view: Deterministic and finite – ” It seems probable that most of the grand underlaying principles have been firmly established  and that further advances and to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena that come under out notice”- Michelson 1894.

Nature operates according to deterministic casual laws.

Objects occupy a discrete and fixed location in time and space

Two decades later after Michelson said this “The Relativity Theory” and “Quantum Mechanics” came about

Quantum Indeterminacy

Within the nucleus of the atom there is behaviours going on we cannot predict, there is no way of measuring without interfering and changing its state while trying to measure. On the subatomic level it is indeterminate as we will never know we just have to predict as the act of observation makes it collapse.

Uncertainty relation- Heisenberg- on the subatomic level we can only predict probability but we could never know its condition.

Einstein thought that everything should be able to be recorded saying- “God does not play dice with the universe”.

With a small particle you can detect its position or speed, you can measure one of these factors but not the other. This is described as the unknown part of reality in Heisenberg’s Indeterminacy Principle.


Quantum Non-locality– The EPR experiment. This was designed to measure both position and momentum of a particle at the same time. On the left is Alice and on the right is Bob- The momentum position. Joining data you get a full picture of the subatomic level.

After Einstein had died this experiment was done proving that Einstein was wrong. The particle that was paired, what happened on a single particle happened to the paired. It was impossible to find out the velocity as every particle is connected to each other.

Non-Locality Effect- A particle is everywhere in the universe at the same time, it is here and everywhere else at the same time. By observing it here you can observe it over there.

Through the theories of quantum you impact on everything.

John Bell- he accepted that he was wrong and what happens in one place happens in another.

Bernard d’Espagnat- Non-separability is now one of the most certain and general part of quantum physics.

Nadeau and Kafatos- Non-locality at the factual condition of the entire universe ( may be able to support religious ideas).

Quantum effects: On a Macro Scale. Using a Micrograph of a mechanical resonator demonstrates quantum superposition behaviour at near visible scales. This challenges the boundary between the macro and quantum worlds.


All objects have extended (non-local) dimensions, but we normally acknowledge only a fractional part of their true extent because of constraints inherent in our perceptual apparatus and the coercive effect of time. Rather than regarding discernible objects in the world as integral and discrete we must recognise that they and their repercussions extend indefinitely through time and space. Having an infinite number of dimensions.

images (2)For example a £1 coin- This is a hard physical object, it is a unique separate thing within the world. The handling of the pound coin means that particles spread and it is said that in a 1000 years it will disappear. Heat is put into the pound coin by you handling it by internal chemical processes happening within you. The original material used to make up the pound coin was made at the beginning of the universe ad the big bang theory spread all these elements and materials right across the universe. The symbolic and historical meaning of the pound coin, it has the queens head on it not by accident the pound has a financial meaning. Gravity is exerting a gravitational force on the pound coin. The pound coin is exerting a gravitational force on Venus as the pound coin is pulling a gravitational force on Venus and Venus is exerting a gravitational force on the pound coin.

Buddhism- Dependent origination – Nothing has a separate existence one being relies on another to exist.

Brain- Larger set of processes going on in the world, the lump of flesh within your head is not a brain.

Where is the boundary between the mind and the world or between the brain and the body.

Once the boundary is gone it is easier to think nothing is discrete or separate to be about local, no boundary between the inside and the outside.

Where is an object when it is perceived? – And how can this help us understand art?

johannesvermeer_womaninbluereadingaletterBack to the painting of a woman in blue reading the letter by Vermeer. There is no letter, no woman there. It is just there because we are projecting it onto the paint. Where is the letter? Is it really there? The painting is there but where is the letter when it is perceived?

The Realist View: A distinct object, separate and distinct, we perceive within the brain, distinction the letter exists when everyone was there to observe it. Separation of physical space the woman views the letter, her brain responds to it.This letter is brought into memory through the act of observation this works solely within your brain. There is two letters, the real physical letter and the mental representation of the letter in the brain completely separate. Anything we see has a double existence in the mental and the physical. The realist view is not to be misinterpreted as the dualist view. There is two letters but she is never has contact with the “real” one. She never sees the letter she only sees the reflection of the light from the window bouncing off the surface of the page into her eye, she never sees the letter.

She doesn’t see the light. The light only goes into the eye and hits a light sensitive material which undergoes an electrical reaction. Electrical impulses get turned into neuro-chemical reactions which she can’t see any of this. Visually she never has any contact to the letter. Touch and smell and all the senses, she never feels the paper the skin reacts electro-chemically to the feel. This mysterious process no one understands, she can never touch it or smell it.

The Extensionist view

There is separations and boundaries. The fact she is seeing the light from the sun they are not apart from one another. The sun and letter are connected. The sun is 93 million miles away but it isn’t, it is here. The night sky you can see stars billion of years ago but you can see it now. It has to be here on earth for us to observe. The sun is here it is not remote from the earth. The letter and the sun are not separate. She is connecting thoughts with another being on the other side of the world. One letter spreads throughout the world. (letters have emotion in them).

Where is the sun?- Infinite, it doesn’t have a size it is everywhere at the same time. the extensionist way of thinking is hard to grasp. You never see the moon, it is the sun, therefore you cannot separate the sun from the moon. E.g. the letter.

Artworks as extended objects? Why are artworks special?

Every city and origin of wealth buy art and lots of money is spent on acquiring works of art.

What makes it special?- There are more than the sum of the material that makes the artwork. Putting it together the highly precise way the materials are arranged can make the most meaningful artifacts on the planet.

Art- The way they interact with our minds.

890px-Las_Meninas,_by_Diego_Velázquez,_from_Prado_in_Google_EarthLas Meninas -Diego Velázquez 1656

This painting is said to be one of the best paintings ever made. It is one of the most widely discussed painting because of what it is telling us and how it is reacting with our consciousness. This painting is a portrait of the ruler of Spain showing the king and queen’s domestic setting. There has been an industry built on what this picture means. There has been controvacy with the mirror where the king and queen are seen in. There is a spot in the gallery you can stand facing the painting at the exact spot and exact position you would be reflected in the painting, you would be standing in the exact position of there the king and queen were standing. Or we are seeing the reflection of the portrait he is painting, if this is so the king and queen cannot be there as if a mirror was there for the artist to paint from the king and queen cannot be there. There is an elegant ambiguity within this piece.

Where are the King and Queen?

Where is the painting?

Where is the viewer?

Where is the artist?

You would be the artist as you and the artist become the same viewer. There is a feeling of being observed by a living things but in reality is it just a load of mud on cloth, however it has such a powerful sensation of living things observing you. Everything is looking outward this area of the painting is brought into question.

Consciousness- Mental properties are shared between the viewer and those within the painting. This implys tyour own presence as we ourselves are seen.

The Flat plain space that we occupy, that we look in creating a sphere.

Steinberg- Intensified multiple acts of perception, conscious transformation.

Is the painting self aware? Paintings embody mental properties. The artist’s thoughts are in this painting, he is very skillful, he is in the painting as real as he was, as his mind was.

Rembrandt_self_portraitRembrandt-self portrait with beret. This painting is in its self more than a painting it is as if you are meeting Rembrandt himself it is a human being encoded into the fabric of this painting. Where is Rembrandt ? In this piece he comes out into your space in the same as how living things protrude. We can consciously respond to him even though he is dead, it is a picture he made of himself it is apart of him and it gives us access to parts of his mind as it is embedded within the painting. Within Rembrandt’s work, the paintings are not an image of the world but an interpretation of being within the world.

Artists are Externalists

Artists give matter intelligence and materials intelligence and have the understanding that the mind and consciousness can be encoded in other pieces.

Within the Rembrandt self portrait is an embodiment and a resurrection. He had to work hard on his work as he had to put core emotion into this work. The paint takes on a form with innate emotion within it.

$$$-JOB REF 14329-0Cezanne- Francois Zola Dam 1877. It was clear how he understood art. Combining reality out there with the reality within his head. Nature in head and out there- Landscape becomes conscious within him, making works of art as they come together.

the-studio-v-1949Braque- Studio V 1949- An object cannot exist without something else, it appears within itself it is a painting of a painting. He painted a painting of a painting that appears within itself.

mondrian_rybMondrian- No critiques refer to his writings. He was very spiritual and mystical understanding that the external and internal reality are together. New consciousness- universal equilibrium. the lines represented the reconciliation of opposites, unity of those two things and the nature of reality.

_57447467_jex_1270565_de27-1Brabara Hepworth- She was an important artist who created sculptures as part of a landscape. Moving over the contours. She is not an external viewer but she is apart of, showing a form that you interact with as a way to view the world.

What Mental properties do artworks have ?

icono_sala_meninas.jpg_1306973099Diego Velázquez room of the Prado- In this room Clark says There is an uncanny awareness of human response to the paintings as they appear to have an awareness. You have a real presence of the room even though they are not highly realistic paintings.

Francis-Bacon-Three-Studies-for-a-Self-PortraitExplanatory Value of externalism – E.g. Francis Bacon recording as close to his nervous sensations through painting.

Is is not that you have a brain observing, united within the pieces you are joined within artworks value- Be in there presense, they embody and convey emotion.


  • Internalism is counter intuitive.
  • Externalism needn’t deny role of the brain in the mind, but mental life arises through the reciprocal relationship between the brain- located.
  • nothing is local or bounded.
  • brain,body and world form a continuum.
  • Works of art embody properties of the mind.

Art and the Conscious Mind

What is it to be human? – We are creative, we transform materials, cave painting, clay pots, humans have always made art.

Humans are the only beings who have conscious minds, cats and dogs may feel similar feelings like us however we as humans have a sense of awareness.

Art and the mind- Defines what humans really are.

What is consciousness?

what is it to be thinking? What is the biological basis of consciousness? What does it mean to be conscious and have consensual awareness? This blog post is based on a lecture I had this week in the field module I chosen (Art and the Conscious mind). This blog post will be looking in depth of what the answers could be to these questions.

Art, brain, mind, consciousness- neurologists have been looking at art and how the brain responds to it and how we link the conscious mind and art practice.

The Relationship between the mind and the world


Is this view correct?

cupid-and-psyche-1640Anthony Van Dyck- Cupid and Psyche 1640

This painting is capturing the moment psyche is waking up from cupid bringing her back to life. Psyche means mind and is a symbol of the mind. This piece illustrates what consciousness is, deep sleep, dead, no world for them to see they are oblivious. She will wake up and start feeling emotions, have memories, be conscious and aware. This painting represents the transition to the world from being born to becoming ourselves within the world.

What is the conscious mind for?

We have been the only species with self awareness and consciousness. The heart is automatically controlled by the brain, we are not aware of this happening. We filter out stimuli that are not significant, some people sleep-walk and can function without a conscious mind.

Why do we have a conscious mind?

William James (1890) – The conscious is for to pick out important things and ignore the rest, you filter out what isn’t needed.

Sigmund Freud (1976) – What the conscious mind does is let us become aware of our senses, the difference is that you can reflect on your own sensory experiences, e.g. you can smell that you can smell.

Daniel Dennett (1991) – He argues that we are like robots and that robots could have a consciousness if technology advances. Consciousness could be found in the future in the capacity of a highly complex machine.

Roger Penrose (1989) – He argues on Dennett’s theory, that we are not machines. Things we don’t know about is mechanical, but what goes on in the brain will never be computable.

Nicolas Humphery (1994) – Consciousness has become a quality humans have because we are social, we have evolved in packs, we have become aware of our consciousness through evolution.

John Searle (1992) – We can adapt rapidly as we are aware of our state and what is around us.

Francis Crick and Christof Koch (1998) – we have survival instincts which help us prevent injury for example if a ball is thrown towards you this will disrupt the brain controlling your body out of the way.

David Chalmers (2002) – We are not just zombies. Why do we need this extra capacity, something there is to be like, states of being, the marker of phenomenal consciousness.

Susan Blackmore (1994) – She denies consciousness, that it is a illusion and that there is no difference of consciousness and unconsciousness.

Many other Theories of Consciousness

  • The view that everything is conscious (panpsychism).
  • That there is not really any such thin as consciousness at all (elimativism).
  • That it is so mysterious a phenomenon we will never be in a position to explain it (mysterianism).
  • That there is something distinct from physical processes e.g. the spiritual realm and the material realm, the mind and body (dualism).
  •  That it is entirely derived from physical matter (materialism) or (physicalism).

Back to the painting of Anthony Van Dyck- Cupid and Psyche

The trees- One of the trees is alive and the other is dead. The trees echo what is going on in the foreground. The tree Psyche is touching is dead however if you look closely you can see foliage starting to grow as cupid brings her back to life, life is overtaking death, as one of the trees is taking over the other. Artists of this period would have put symbolic messages within their paintings as people of that time would be looking for symbolism like that within a piece of work.

Before the trees were pointed out they were saw, however our awareness has shifted and we are more conscious. They are but insignificant but they are in the conscious mind.

Consciousness brings the world into being for us- conscious mind creates reality.

Visual Consciousness 

We look at something in the world and are aware where they might be this is direct realism. Like in the diagram at the beginning of this post, the image will form an impression representation within our minds. We sometimes say seeing is believing however what we see really isn’t what is out there.

Visual consciousness- Photons> Lens> Retina> Visual Pathway> Visual Cortex.

The difference is that we are aware of it. When a ball is thrown at you we can dodge it being unaware of it. People will still respond but may not be aware of seeing it. The visual system can work independently.

Nothing we see is actually there 

Nothing in your brain is green. The appearance of green is actually no where, it is a response to a specific frequency of light. Seeing the colours may not have any real form in reality, as they are only a frequency.

Hermann Helmholtz- There is no reality outside our sensory system. However we stuck to not see it any differently. A tree is only within the mind.

hqdefaultConcave Mask Illusion

This is a flat video image of a mask turning 360 degrees. when it gets to the back or hallow end of the mask it suddenly is flipped around. The reason for this is because when we are born we learnt that we see all faces stuck outwards and are orientated in a certain way.Our Brain flips the image of the concave mask to look like it is sticking out because it is telling us what we are looking at isn’t right so it changes it.

What happens when things go wrong? 

Visual agnosia- This condition is when your visual consciousness was once perfect but has lost its capacity to re-organise what they were seeing, However it is very hard for the patient to become adapted to what he was seeing. He would see patterns of lines but he couldn’t recognise an owl drawing although he knew exactly what an owl was. Because his brain was fully developed the tissue damaged couldn’t be fixed so he couldn’t re-learn it however he hadn’t lost his ability to copy and draw but he wouldn’t understand what he was drawing an image of.

Visual agnosia supports the fact that perceptual and recognition processes are separable, because his stored knowledge required for recognition was in tact. Overall we have discovered that to see is not to recognise.

Visual agnosia validates the distinction impact in the labels “early” and “intermediate” vision.

fnhum-05-00084-g009If we didn’t recognise things the world would look the same however in this picture you look at it but once you see what it is it is very difficult to see image the way it once was without seeing the cow, the state of not seeing, the cow is that.

Those who were born blind but got their sight back, Would they be able to see? There would be so much information you wouldn’t be able to see as they were born blind the only recognition sense they could understand would be touch to identify objects and the world around.

If sight was recovered within the teenage years the brain would be able to adapt as the brain isn’t fully developed to adulthood yet.

Seeing is something we learn to do and it is a major way and one of the main senses we use to negotiate our way through the world day by day. Babies when born have a lot of learning to do about controlling their sight and understanding it this is a major phase in a persons live of development.

Non Western Philosophical perception 

“Nirvikalpa”- Intermediate perception, formless, visual stuff, undifferentiated

“Savikalpa” – Determinate perception, being able to identify different objects.

Visual Indeterminacy- occurs when an object or scene you can see, but you don’t know what it is.

Paradox 1Robert Pepperwell – He was talking about how to bring this about through images. Through painting and drawing his intention was to make a formless, unidentifiable piece of art but also has a lot of context and a lot if information is given to the viewers brain however our brains can not identify or know what it is. He presented these pictures in the same style as paintings in churches and galleries so since we seen images like this before we instantly believe we will be able to recognise what is going on. What happens is the way vision works without knowing you are looking at. we are so good at looking and recognising things that looks humanistic, we begin to see things that aren’t really there. He wanted to provide ideas that could be there because without enough connotations it will be seen as noise and we wouldn’t give the image as much attention.

Scientific Studies of visual indeterminacy

Robert Pepperwell got together with some neurologists to further understand the process the brain goes through when we are seeing an image but we cannot recognise it. They give the viewer images of Robert Pepperwell’s paintings to look at, along side images of classical art that had superficial similarities to his work. People doing this study were convinced they were seeing things in the painting, they were seeing what wasn’t there. This study concluded the effortless process of seeing. When we get visual information we will divide it up into stuff we instantly recognise, we will chop up the information into meaningful chunks, there is nothing there but you convince yourself there is something there.

Perception of Intermediate art 

We will look at a picture differently when asked different questions. We cut it up into chunks. Most of the image we are asked to look at, most of the image is never looked at at all. We think we are looking at the whole image, only we are looking at a specific area depending on the question.

(In my previous post on Visual Indeterminacy I tackle the ideas other artist had with visual indeterminacy)

Perception and Distinctions

Do objects have boundaries? – where is the boundary of an object?

Is it the edge or corner of the object? William James said that all our senses come together to create a consciousness, a differentiation, and an awareness of the world made up of different distinct things.

Henri Bergson- First the mind does separates objects for our benefit i.e. an apple tree and the apple for eating.

Can you imagine nothing ? – (pre-conscious moment)

To have a mind there has to be something there to begin with.

How to induce nothingness.- The person is made to listen white noise and with half a ping pong ball on each eye they are not allowed to close their eyes. This creates a “ganzfelt” state, and a non-sensory experience however you can’t do it long as it is dangerous towards your mental health. The white noise being played has no information within it and no frequencies so if you listen to it for so long the brain will not register it and you will hear silence, no edges or divisions.

George Spenser Brown- Laws of form, before you see separation, distinction. He used a white page to represent nothingness however when a circle is drawn on it it creates something. Enigmatic, zen like, not between the circle and the paper but with us and the paper.

Francisco Valera- Form from nothingness. When we realise we are not the world we are separate from the world around us and from each other.

A good artist who has shown this idea within his work is Anthony Gormley. His installation on the beach at Merseyside is a way of us understanding our observation of observing that the human is separate from the world.


To summarise:

  • The world we perceive is essentially formless and objectless.
  • We impose boundaries, separations on that indeterminate flux and pick out objects and forms meaningful to us.
  • This does not mean however those objects and forms are there in any permanent or absolute sense independently of our perceiving them .
  • The most primordial objective determine from this perceptual flux is our own being, our sense of self from which direction.

Quantum Physics is the most accurate, precise and successful scientific theory ever developed.

The Newtonian Universe– Confident they knew how the universe works. Like a clockwork device in function and how physical reality works accurately.

Thinking that the atom was the smallest, it was split, the material smaller than atoms was called the subatomic level. Scientists had to come up of a different way of describing the quantum universe as the matter within it behaves in a completely different way.

There isn’t any matter or reality at the subatomic level. Physically there is nothing there, all there is is nothing.

Heisenburg- Subatomic level, nothing factual there observing makes them there, all we can do is make assumptions.

Hydrogen wave function- Probability density plots

Hydrogen_Density_PlotsThis provides evidence that one atom can be in a lot of states at once. All we can do is measure it. The only way it looked like a specific form is because we saw it.

Schroedinger’s Cat2000px-Schrodingers_cat.svg

This theory Illustrates how crazy quantum physics is as you can calculate the probability that trigger will be on or off, this won’t tell you if the cat is dead or alive. The cat is dead and alive at the same time, the cat would be dead and alive at the same. It is you that makes it that state. At the quantum world you cant think dead or alive, superposition, as two conditions are happening at the same time beyond the capacity of what the human brain can do.

Heisenburg’s indeterminacy principle

“A principle in quantum mechanics holding that greater accuracy of measurement for one observable quantity entails less accuracy of measurement for another conjugate quantity”.

When looking at a photon it has stopped, working out a photon you have to hit it with another particle, you can deflect it making the thing you are trying to measure changed.

Rosenblum and Kuttner- Reality we believe is only generated by our act of observation.

To summarise:

  • We see what we need to know.
  • Formless- Changes to form, can work independently, the brain makes sense of the indeterminate piece of art.
  • Reality is composed of separate objects, the fact that we can do this is how consciousness can be formed, measuring collapses its state.
  • Consciousness brings the world into being for us.