Plastir Number 12 – 09/2008

AN «AESTHETIC» EXPLANATION FOR THE SYMMETRY OF ACHEULIAN HANDAXES: SOME NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL INSIGHTS

Derek HODGSON is an eminent specialist in paleoanthropology and evolutionary neuropsychology at the University of York. He explores since many years cross pathways such as cognitive archaeology, paleoneurology and paleoart, penetrating in deep a new era integrating forgotten knowledge (including biological, cultural, informational and artistic disciplines). He is more particularly interested today by the relationship between Palaeolithic art and psychology of the perception, showing how the motor and visuo-space brain networks as well as the neuropsychological factors contributed to the emergence of ethnoarcheology and primitive art. Derek Hodgson, which is sponsored by Anne Dambricourt for our review, published in specialized reviews like Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Current Anthropology or British J. off Developmental Psychology, but also in more eclectic reviews like Leonardo, Rock Art Research or Journal of Consciousness Studies. He also contributed to many international symposiums on the topic “Paleoart and neuroscience”, for instance at the congress of the UISPP of Lisbon in 2006 and at the university of Southampton in 2007. The abstract of the original article that he delivers to us for PLASTIR follows: “The extensive symmetry found in Acheulian handaxes has been commented upon by numerous observers and a number of competing explanations have been presented to account for this phenomenon. Some commentators go further and consider that the shape profile of such handaxes may demonstrate a preference for a particular kind of proportion. Recent research on perception and the visual brain is beginning to show how symmetry is important for parsing the world for the purpose of recognising objects that is related to the survival of hominins. This paper presents data to confirm that, not only was there a preference for a particular kind of symmetry in relation to Acheulian handaxes, but also how this might be related to how the visual brain functions”.

THEORIES OF «PREDICTION» – THE UNDERSTANDABLE AESTHETIC KNOWLEDGE » –

Jose-Louis LESTOCART is an archaeologist, advisor at the College de France at the laboratory of physiology of Perception and Action, member of the association MCX, critical of art and cinema and commissary for expositions at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. He is also a faithful contributor of PLASTIR giving us matter to think in the field of art, virtual reality and cognition. He presents to us in this number an analysis in deep of the theories known as those of prediction, approaching, just like Derek Hodgson but for modern art, the fields of perception, cerebral plasticity and aesthetics. He summarizes his paper as follows: “Perception and feeling of the motion in front of some artworks (paintings, films or videos) do not seem to be fully grasped by usual cognitive approaches. The author has made himself such a study on pictorial motion perception on Francis Bacon’s original paintings (with Z. Kapoula, director of research, CNRS), which did not fully satisfy him. Indeed this study did not emphasize on a spatio-visual field which is extremely developed (it could be called « future ») tested during these perceptions. It appears that certain artworks contain hidden parts – much present in some experimental films or videos-, that a certain perception can reveal almost instantly. We shall see the prediction’s theories of physicists at the University of Santa Fe (Crutchfield & Shalizi); questions that may be apply to the interpretation and understanding of the works. Finally about the decryption process taking place in the brain in connection with « its » perception, we will discuss briefly the work of Giacomo Rizzolatti; about the capacities of imitation and simulations of the actions of neurons called ‘mirrors’ ”.

JULES VERNE OR THE MARVELLOUS GEOGRAPHICAL ONE – THE SUPERB ORENOQUE (1898) –

Lionel DUPUY is geographer, teacher and historiographer of the work of Jules Verne. He presented to us in the preceding numbers of PLASTIR (VI, VIII & X) all the originality of his approach on the initiatory, semiotic and temporospatial aspects of the vernien work of art. He delivers to us here the fourth shutter of his analysis in these terms: “Les Voyages Extraordinaires » of Jules Verne are perfectly located at the interface between Literature and Geography. For this reason, it is interesting to notice in which point they take part of what we can define as the marvellous geographical one. This analogy, coming from the typology established in Literature by Tzvetan Todorov, makes it possible to better emphasize how Jules Verne passes from a scientific Geography, real, with a more imaginary, fantastic geography in its novels. From this point of view, the fine analysis of one of the final chapters of the novel Le Superbe Orénoque (1898) makes it possible to illustrate how the author articulates this marvellous geographical in an adventure basically between Literature and Geography, between reality and imaginary.”

INTRODUCTION TO THE DIOGENE OF SINOPE’S DREAM

Remy BASTIDE is a French sculptor who follows, since his training, a singular oneiric course – the dream of Diogène – perfecting himself with the liking of the orders and the building sites. He has a clear objective today: to reconstitute the dream of the philosopher in life size. This is why his contribution to PLASTIR constitutes more than one literary testimony, a true call to collaboration with Transdisciplinary associations and institutions which would like to support his project. PSA is one of these and introduces this meeting between Rémy Bastide the sculptor and the glance of Diogène to you, or more precisely “The floating dream in front of the eyes of Diogène” according to his own words. The author thus presents to us the genesis of the Table of the man, which he wishes to do: an interactive space, dedicated to knowledge, where researchers and artists will be able to converse without scission, on the transgenerational and playing mode; illustration of “The reconciliation between Diogène and Prométhée”. The play is started. Its term is fixed at June 21, 2010. With us, you to seize the ball with the jump! (Please contact PSA for any proposal). Blog of the artist.

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