The Near-Sighted Monkey

thegreatravelledknot:

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.”

Because artists and scientists don’t hang around each other quite enough, they accumulate odd imaginations about each other. Here a great scientist talks about an artist who imagines that scientists have a inferior imaginative take on things.

Naughty Zero! 

Are you a number?

Are you an even number?

Or… are you more like a fungus than a plant or an animal?

British artist Angela Palmer uses the medium of MRI scans to make images.

"I developed this concept by drawing or engraving details from MRI and CT scans onto multiple sheets of glass, thereby layer by layer recreating human and animal forms, in particular the brain. The finished pieces, presented in three dimensions in a vertical plane, reveal the extraordinary inner anatomical architecture concealed beneath the surface, thus creating the most objective form of portraiture. The image floats ethereally in its glass chamber, but can only be viewed from certain angles – from above and from the side the image vanishes and the viewer sees only a void."

We are thankful to Andrew Bernhardt for bringing this artist’s work to our attention.

Comic strip by Lynda Barry
(This one goes out to all the entomologists here tonight at The Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge. )

Comic strip by Lynda Barry

(This one goes out to all the entomologists here tonight at The Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge. )

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
About the class:
THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 
Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)
Spring 2013
Day: Mon/Weds
Time: 1:20 -3:50
Location: 6261 Humanities 
Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.
Credits 3-4
Instructor: Lynda Barry
A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.
No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.
To apply….

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About the class:

THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 

Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

Spring 2013

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: 6261 Humanities

Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.

Credits 3-4

Instructor: Lynda Barry

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

To apply….

Above: “Beatrice Addressing Dante” circa 1824 by William Blake; painter, poet, print-maker; London, England 

Below: “And Everything is Back to Normal” 2012 by Andy,  2nd Grader, Franklin Elementary school; Madison, Wisconsin

SPECIAL SPRING 2013 COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR STUDENTS CURRENTLY ENROLLED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

The Unthinkable Mind

Instructor: Lynda Barry

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: Humanities Building

Limit: 20 Students

Credits 3-4

Cross-listed  as Art 469/ English 307 /Science (Course number to come)

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

This is a rigorous class with a substantial workload. Along with twice weekly writing, picture making, and memorization assignments, students will be required to complete a handmade book using visual and written elements by the end of the semester.

Although this class is open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines, priority will be given to Art, Science, and English students currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin.

Applications for the class will be accepted either in person or by mail until 3:00 PM THURSDAY DECEMBER 5th. No electronic submissions will be accepted, but students will receive an email confirmation that their application has been received. The class list will be announced on Wednesday, December 12th.

The Unthinkable Mind 2013 c/o UW-Madison Art Department
6241 Humanities Building
455 North Park Street
Madison, WI  53706

All applications must be formatted exactly as follows to be considered:  typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman with standard margins, black ink on regular white paper, no longer than 4 single-sided pages, stapled in the upper left hand corner.

Prospective students should answer each of the questions below without putting too much thought into it. The first answers that come to mind are the ones I’m most interested in.

Questions for Students Applying to “The Unthinkable Mind”

 1. Full Name:

 2. Student ID Number (10 digits,  no dashes or spaces)

 3. Email address: (please use your wisc.edu email address)

 4. Degree program or area of study and year  (eg BFA, Dance, Junior)

 5. This course is offered through different departments. Select the department through which you would like to take the course.

 6. Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

 7. What classes did you take during Fall Semester of 2012? Why?

 8. What classes will you be taking  Spring Semester of 2013? Why?

 9. What were some of the books you read as a kid?

10. What were some of the games you played?

11. What were some of your favorite fictional characters when you were growing up. (These can be any kind of fictional characters at all, from literary to cartoon to video game characters.)

 12. Who was your favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 13. Who was your least favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 14. Was there an object or thing disturbed you as a kid? Why?

 15. Was there an object or thing that did the opposite for you? Why?

 16. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that frustrated you?

 17. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that made you happy?

 19. What was your least favorite kind of fictional creature?

 20. What would be your least favorite kind of fictional environment?

 21. How do you feel about writing by hand?

Where does a cartoonist’s interest in science lead?  For Lynda Barry, it led to becoming a Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a chance to spend time around scientists working out a variety of problems on white boards all around the WID building.

She’s been photographing the kinds of lines they leave behind while they are explaining their ideas to each other. The photo above was taken about ten days ago. The Meleagris gallopavo modifier was just noted today.

See more in this series HERE and HERE

Mash it up, THE CURE and THE COMMODORES!

Now playing on The Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge Juke Box

Via Dan Chaon

Does this mash-up ‘get to you’? What does that mean?

From WIRED SCIENCE

The question, of course, is what all these dopamine neurons are up to. What aspects of music are they responding to? And why are they so active fifteen seconds before the acoustic climax? After all, we typically associate surges of dopamine with pleasure, with the processing of actual rewards. And yet, this cluster of cells in the caudate is most active when the chills have yet to arrive, when the melodic pattern is still unresolved.

One way to answer these questions is to zoom out, to look at the music and not the neuron. While music can often seem (at least to the outsider) like a labyrinth of intricate patterns – it’s art at its most mathematical – it turns out that the most important part of every song or symphony is when the patterns break down, when the sound becomes unpredictable. If the music is too obvious, it is annoyingly boring, like an alarm clock. (Numerous studies, after all, have demonstrated that dopamine neurons quickly adapt to predictable rewards. If we know what’s going to happen next, then we don’t get excited.) This is why composers introduce the tonic note in the beginning of the song and then studiously avoid it until the end. The longer we are denied the pattern we expect, the greater the emotional release when the pattern returns, safe and sound. That is when we get the chills.

Continue….