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Community Discussion: Blog by Changston | Science of the Arts: baby steps. Destructoid
Science of the Arts: baby steps. - Destructoid

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I'm Jon. I've been reading Destructoid since at least August '08, but only decided just recently (as of May '09) to start being an active community member. If you want to know more about me, feel free to read my intro forum post.

Long story short: I'm a grad student who enjoys video games and video game related news, but doesn't get around to actually play them that often. That's probably why puzzle and rhythm/music games are my bread and butter, since they're pretty easy to pick up and play. JRPGs used to be #1, until it dawned on me that I no longer have time to hunker down for hours at a time.

To anyone with a PS3 and a love of puzzle games: I bet you I could kick your ass in Puzzle Fighter and Critter Crunch with a probability of 50%. Game on!


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On October 20th and 21st, the Brain Science Institute aimed to bridge the two disparate fields together by hosting "The Science of the The Neuroscience of Aesthetics". The two day symposium brought famous artists and performers and neuroscientists together to engage in discussions ranging from the biological mechanisms of color processing to the complex coordination required in jazz improvisation. How did the whole thing fare? Hit the jump for details. 

There's a common idea that science and art are opposites. To some extent, it's justified. They attract different personalities and encourage different skills. Painters that follow strict rules and analyze every brush stroke often produce sterile imitations of art. Scientists that experience a stroke of luck in one experiment can't make any valid they need to ensure that what their results are replicable. The BSi aimed to repair this schism and show that both scientists can be creative and that artists can be logical. A group of ~300 patrons from both sides attended the events at the American Visionary Arts Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art to gain some perspective. &nbs On October 20th and 21st, the Brain Science Institute aimed to bridge the two disparate fields together by hosting "The Science of the Arts: The Neuroscience of Aesthetics". The two day symposium brought famous artists and performers and neuroscientists together to engage in discussions ranging from the biological mechanisms of color processing to the complex coordination required in jazz improvisation. How did the whole thing fare? Hit the jump for details. {{page_break}} There's a common idea that science and art are opposites. To some extent, it's justified. They attract different personalities and encourage different skills. Painters that follow strict rules and analyze every brush stroke often produce sterile imitations of art. Scientists that experience a stroke of luck in one experiment can't make any valid conclusions: they need to ensure that what their results are replicable. The BSi aimed to repair this schism and show that both scientists can be creative and that artists can be logical. A group of ~300 patrons from both sides attended the events at the American Visionary Arts Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art to gain some perspective.     The problem is that with such a wide range in both audience members and topics, the mission of the symposium was often times lost. Many of the panels kept science and art  in isolation. Powerpoint lectures looked as if they were lifted straight from a professor's lecture notes. Appropriate in a classroom setting, but off-putting for this event. Similarly, several artists could not analyze their thinking behind their artistic choices, giving very little information beyond "I did this because it looked nice." Furthermore, they seemed to lack the curiosity to find out why their art is capable of captivating their fans. Luckily, there were a handful of people that truly embraced the nature of the event from both scientific and artistic perspectives. William Stoehr gave a very thoughtful approach to the elements of his portraits. He employs opposing color mixtures in his portrait's eyes to achieve a subtle shimmering effect, similar to how red text on a green background pops out and demands attention. In using a garden hose to drench part of his canvas, he saw the resulting change in luminance and how it fooled around with depth perception. As he later pointed out, he didn't realize the biological basis behind these phenomena until speaking with visual scientists. They were perceptual processes that could be traced back to how the retina is structured to process color and how parts of visual cortex assemble three dimensional constructs from two dimensional inputs.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1R4CivYQn8 Jonah Bokaer presented his choreography in a similar manner. Using software that can generate all types of three-dimensional body movement, he sought those that looked impossible. The digital mannequin's arms were twisted to look as if they were dislocated. Its limbs regularly passed through its torso. With those videos in mind, he aimed to reproduce the impossible movements, resulting in "False Start". He challenges the viewer's own ideas regarding body control, contorting as if some undetected force is throwing him about stage. By bringing ragdoll physics to life, he causes a cognitive dissonance in the viewer's perception.   Finally, Charles Limb best exemplified how to properly engage the audience as a scientist during his panel on musical creativity. Instead of adhering to a strict presentation order (starting with background information and his own lab's research and then talking to each musician one by one), he approached it like naturally engaging conversation. Charles' research is interesting and worthy of the spotlight on their own, but on this day it served only to highlight the intricate cognitive nature that governs jazz improvisation.  It's unreasonable to expect a Freaky Friday resolution to the symposium. Complete and thorough understanding between the two parties is impossible in only two days. Nevertheless, though each speaker was capable of generating interest during his or her own talk, there was often times a large disconnect linking the sensory information to its aesthetic value. For an inaugural event, it achieved its baby steps. Here's hoping they take long strides in future years. 



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