Chp 11 - Chapter 11 Chapter 11: Coda Artists and brains...

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Chapter 11 The Art of Feeling , Page 67 Chapter 11: Coda Artists and brains create sensations, thoughts, and emotions that drive our art experience. As we stroll around an art museum, we may ask: Do I like this artwork? What is the artist trying to say? What makes it interesting? Thoughout this book I have argued that there are many ways to experience art, and these experiences are enhanced by an understanding of the art of seeing, knowing, and feeling. The more we understand these parts of our psyche, the more we gain from our experience with art. We must break out of our usual way of looking and consider multiple approaches. The boy in Pere Borrell del Caso‘s Escapando de la crítica (Escaping Criticism , 1874) (Figure 11.1) makes his own break out in this playful trompe-l'œil painting that exemplifies the illusion of painting. The boy is depicted in exquisite 3-D rendering, including the shadows on the right side as he ―exits‖ the frame. This work was painted in the same year as the first Impressionist exhibition in which Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Degas showed artworks rejected by the Académie des Beaux-Arts . In many ways, del Caso‘s painting leaps ahead toward a postmodern view, as the title, Escaping Criticisim , suggests a commentary on what a painting should be. Rather than playing with the breakdown of a realistic scene, as the Impressionists did, Caso used traditional painterly techniques to make a conceptual statement about the nature of painting. In order to appreciate this work one needs to know that the boy is escaping from a picture frame rather than some other opening. The Power of Mind Duchamp was correct when he argued that all art should be ―at the service of the mind.‖ He was incorrect, however, when he shunned earlier artworks as ―retinal.‖ As we have discussed, the retina is merely the movie screen onto which rays of light from the outside world are pro- jected. From this point, neurons act to accentuate, fill-in, segregate, and organize patterns of light for the purpose of identifying meaningful forms within a spatial environment. Thus, all art, and in fact everything you see, is at the service of the mind. Seeing, Knowing, & Feeling In the art of seeing, a coherent spatial world is created from light flickering on our retinas. From this ―great blooming, buzzing confusion‖ (Wm James), we recognize forms, perceive depth, and make scenes. Both brains and Renaissance artists applied the geometry of optics (li- near perspective) and rendered shape from shading (chiaroscuro) to create realistic scenes. Yet our perceptions are not mere photocopies of the world. We accentuate edges, heighten colors, and attend selectively to pertinent objects and locations. Of course, artists do the same in devel- oping a point of view. According to the neuroscientist Ramachandran, artists employ peak shift, the principle by which brain processes exaggerate perceptual features. Indeed, artists often ac- centuate perceptual features, offering views that are less real but more dramatic. The Hindu sta-
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Chp 11 - Chapter 11 Chapter 11: Coda Artists and brains...

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