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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Richard Schechner: "Art is cognitive as well as passionate...

...and theory is passionate as well as cognitive."

Today I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Richard Schechner, who could be termed as one of the founders of Performance Studies--the study of the everyday life of performance. In addition to the brilliance of who he is and what he's done (Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, editor of TDR: The Drama Review, and artistic director of East Coast Artists, one of the founders of the Performance Studies department of the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (NYU), the list goes on and on...), I'm inspired by his philosophy on life, and on the path to knowledge and ultimately wisdom.

Through the eyes of Schechner, knowledge is seeing things together, as in seeing wild imagination in the hard sciences (string theory, gluons?) and concrete theory in art. I see this as creativity as well, through the lens of Rosenthal, who describes the creative "janusian" process as seeing two distinct areas of space into one. I admire Schechner's passion behind idea, for he is "passionate about scholarship as if passionate about art," and makes a great statement again those critics of neuroaesthetics arguing that the statement "I don't want to study the science of art because I don't want to ruin art" is NOT TRUE. Schechner tackles a problem by pursuing a problem to the end, and seeing connections (and we can see he is very successful!)

Schechner comes up with many clever axioms, some of which I’d like to share (roughly quoted):
“Ignorance (of anything) to infinity is constant.”
“Improvisation must have structure. Structure must have improvisation.”
“Art is constantly as restatement, manipulation…”
“Serendipity is important.”

Here’s to another “artscientist,” as Daniel Edwards, author of Artscience, would say. And here’s to the artscientist within us all!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From the Literary Vesicle: Welcome to Your Brain

The Literary Vesicle of the Artistic Synapse releases Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang.

Aamodt and Wang dispel popular myths about the brain, like "we only use ten percent of our brains," while at the same time creating a "user's guide" to the brain: practical knowledge about how the brain works and how to best take advantage of it's workings.

Sam Wang was, in fact, my Neuroscience module professor from Molecular Biology class. Many of the themes in the book were incorporated into his lectures, which made them very interesting and easy to understand. He is, needless to say, brilliant. Prof. Wang has also spoken publicly on all sorts of neuroscience-related issues, check out his videos at BigThink:

The Literary Vesicle's transmissions from the book:

  • Brain activity in response to recognizing certain sounds changes based on experience. Our experience actually changes our ability to recognize sounds.
  • Perfect pitch is "more common among people who speak tonal languages in which pitch is important for distinguishing words" (eg Chinese). 
  • To hear better on your cell phone in a loud room, cover the mouthpiece.
  • The chance of mental disorder is linked to a stress gene.
  • Dopamine and serotonin is involved in the shaping of your personality.

What is the Literary Vesicle?

First of all, what is a vesicle? Synaptic vesicles are little pouches in the neuron that contain neurotransmitters. These pouches fuse with the neural membrane, releasing the neurotransmitters into the synapse (the gap between neurons) to transmit signals.

The Literary Vesicle is a vesicle of the Artistic Synapse that will release books into the Synapse (aka the book corner of the Synapse), and while doing so, take note of interesting and "artistic" transmissions from the books.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Princeton News: Sculpture in chemistry lab bonds science and art

Princeton News: Sculpture in chemistry lab bonds science and art

Here we witness another example of "artscience", a term I stole from David Edwards, author of Artscience and founder of Le Laboratoire, an artscience center in Paris.
Kendall Buster has delved into art and science over the course of her career. The work she created for Princeton University's new Frick Chemistry Laboratory has emerged from both of her worlds.
The sculpture brings to mind shapes seen through a microscope lens. It was inspired by models employed to represent molecular structures, according to the artist. 
It is no wonder that the beauty of cellular structures are akin to the elegance of architecture, for nature's designs are naturally the most stable and intelligent, with simple elegance. This reminds me of the work of Don Ingber from Harvard University, who defended that cellular structure was like a Buckminster Fuller tensegrity structure.