Tuesday, 15 December 2009

How Do we Perceive Art?

Now we are all happy after lunchtime refreshments, we can begin to consider once again some serious academic type stuff.

We're waiting for a presentation from the Argentinian artist Mariano Molina, who is working with the neuroscience department as part of the Leverhulme Trust's project that studies how we perceive art.

Something that struck me while he was presenting his Wor(l)d, 'Series-Consequences' and Textuals Series, was whether there are distinct psychological differences between how we perceive familiar patterns and more unfamiliar shapes. We read and apprehend a text, for example, very differently than we do a piece of art. But what happens when, as in Mariano's work, that text is transmuted into an artwork itself?

Mariano also produces site specific murals and wall paintings. Again, we see the geographically contingent nature of art, how the location of something at a particular site is inherently bound up in it's meaning.

Gaining Mariano's perspective on his own work is a great opportunity. This is what contemporary art can offer us which more ancient art(efacts) cannot - the ability to engage with the maker directly. While we must not negate the importance of our own, solo, initial experience and response, the possibility of engagement with a producer allows us to engage on another critical level. We are able to see Mariano's method of production, the painting onto a wall of a projected image in an almost photo-realistic format. The deeply personal and solitary nature of artistic production is not always as fixed a form as it might at first seem, access to the artists 'workshop', if you like, giving a completely different point of view. Mariano's work in this vein is exhibited and created in many locations and the same technique can perhaps be seen to have very different effects in different locations.

Even when Mariano uses himself as the subject of his work, he wants to present a character rather than himself. Often, the use of his own physical form is a matter of practical expediency, and the figure that is presented is, he says, not himself, nor does he want it to be recognised as such.

In Mariano's work, the professor of bioengineering at the University of Leicester here, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, saw possibilities for research, and invited him to be the artist in residence for five months. Mariano's work shows that he understands in an artistic, if not a neuroscientific, format, concepts such as 'focus of attention' and the 'centre of the gaze'. In collaboration with the School of Museum Studies, Professor Quiroga has turned his attention to art perception and infact our very own Jen is a participant in this field of research, which uses eye-tracking equipment to assess how such items are perceived.

1 comment:

  1. See Mariano's website for images of his work: http://www.mariano-molina.com/index1.html