What do images of the brain tell us about the history of consciousness? And our ideas about the mind?

How has art influenced the sciences of the mind? And vice versa?

How can history contribute to the scientific exploration of the brain?

Can a dialogue between artists, humanists, and scientists lead to novel understandings in this realm?

This is what I'm wondering about.

Angela Richardson
MFA student
Department of Art
UW - Madison

Travelling sparks hurrying hither and tither

I’ve continued to contemplate Sherrington’s beautiful quote about the brain. I decided to write it out longhand in continuous cursive on a window of The Image Lab. Wanting to make a drawing to accompany it I found a diagram of "overlapping neuronal fields" attributed to Sherrington on the UIC website. Searching further I found a photo by Schutz on wiki showing the stained glass window at Cambridge made in Sherrington’s honor. I like this image very much and made several iterations of it myself - on the window, on the whiteboard wall, on paper.

What happens when you re-draw (or trace or color in) someone else’s drawing? Is it like re-telling a joke you heard? How is re-drawing a drawing different than just looking at it? What happens in your hands when you do? What happens in your brain?

I think that by re-drawing a drawing my body gains some understanding of an image that I cannot have just by looking. There is something unique to be discovered in the tracing of lines and making of marks that can’t be known any other way. It’s something like the difference between merely watching a dance and actually trying to dance the steps yourself.

Image sources: the original diagram is from “Sherrington’s Ferrier lecture, 1929” and posted on UIC’s Dept of Neurology website. Stained glass window photo is by author [wikipedia] User:Schutz. Permission (Reusing this file) Creative Commons-by-sa 2.5 “The stained glass was designed by Maria McClafferty and installed in 1992–1992.”

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