Saturday, April 4, 2009


I find it a bit unsettling that tastes and emotions can be deconstructed to become technical and almost mechanical sounding. On the other hand I do find Zeki’s work fascinating, but I can see why people have reacted negatively towards it. It will be really interesting to see where his next branch of research takes him, especially if he explores the context in which art is viewed. It would be intriguing to observe how differently one would react if you see a poster on the street versus if you see it in a gallery or a museum. Zeki’s insights are really powerful, and to a certain degree they do make me question taste as whole. I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world that believes some “art” should never be called that. The first time I went to the MOMA when I was twelve or thirteen years old, I remember this one piece that was, quite literally, a framed glossy piece of wall. I remember wondering why anyone would consider this to be art at all. It made me question modern and contemporary art for a very long time. Later on in college I understood a lot of what I had previously doubted, but there are still things that I suppose must just be over my head.

Universal Beauty

This is a very interesting topic that I know very little about. I feel that even with the experiments that Zeki is doing, it will be next to impossible to find or define universal beauty. Although his experiments show that certain areas of the brain respond to different stimuli and when we see something we like, the activity in whatever area increases, this does not necessarily lead to a definition of universal beauty. There are so many social factors that lead to personal preferences that must be taken into consideration. What makes one person love a piece of art and another person detest it? It would be interesting to investigate these factors as well. I wonder if he has done any experiments using works that people don't necessarily find visually stimulating or beautiful, but may find intellectually stimulating. Much of the art produced in the last century is focused more on investigating or representing a concept or idea than being an object of beauty. So I wonder whether his studies will even be relevant for much longer.
I sort of like the idea of basing the value of a piece of work based on the nuerological responses of people's brains. It would certainly shake things up in the art world and might solve the question of "Why did that piece of junk sell for $2million?!". I had to laugh at the idea of art critics and auction houses being in a state of panic.