Friday, 6 January 2012

Bruce Bickford and Brains

I can get a bit creeped out after watching too much Bruce Bickford animation, but generally I feel so excited by his conscientiousness in making it as well as the trippy end result, being morphed through different shapes into new lands to the beat of Frank Zappa, that it tends to be quite a nice way to spend ten minutes.
The morphing reminds me of improvisation classes where you play with first impulses, learn to trust them and then turn it into something fun.

Thinking about what excites me, I was reminded of the split brain tests carried out on individuals with epilepsy by Michael Gazzaniga&co in the late 1950s. Reason being, it's results leave me wondering how sure I can be the reasons I provide for why I like something are the actual reasons.
In these tests they found that when the connections holding the left and right halves of the brain together (corpus callosum) was severed in animals, the animals stopped having epileptic seizures with no clear long-term side effects.When they tried the same thing with humans they found that their patients could not communicate information from one brain hemisphere to the other.  The left hemisphere was found to be the part responsible for language, and interestingly would come up for explanations for things the right hemisphere did, without knowing why. Unconsciously lying to explain away the situation. Examples here
This leaves me wondering how well my left hemisphere can actually explain why it likes something, particularly art related, when it can unknowingly lie just to give an answer.

 I am studying art therapy at the moment, and there is a lot of making up your own stories about a picture you drew, stories that come up like an impulse and with all kinds of feelings on top of it. If I can gain value from them I will, but I certainly want to keep an eye on what I end up believing considering my left brain is so good at confabulation.

Below is a sculpture I made on said art therapy course. The teacher told everyone after they had finished that the initial themes that tend to come up are generally sex and faeces, which I think can be seen here, but then maybe those are just the most shocking ideas and human's are biased to seeing the shocking in art.

Below I have copy-pasted a study carried out by Wegner from Wikipedia which I feel explains this a bit better;
"Ironic process theory
Wegner and colleagues performed a series of experiments in which people tried to suppress thoughts, for example by attempting not to think of a white bear. That work revealed that attempting not to think of a topic often backfires, resulting in high rates of intrusive thoughts about the topic. Wegner coined the term "ironic mental processes" for this effect, which is also known more commonly as the "white bear phenomenon". The effect contributes to various psychological challenges and disorders. Smokers who try not to think about cigarettes find it harder to give up. People who suppress thoughts that may cause an anxiety reaction often make those thoughts more intrusive. Wegner found that the ironic effect is stronger when people are stressed or depressed."

In other news, if you get the chance to drop a lump of wet clay from body height, it is loads of fun.

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