Monday, 24 August 2009
I've been fascinated by Ramachandran, both the scientist and the man, for a while now. His current fMRI experiments are an attempt to find out what exactly it is that visual art does to the brain, that kitsch doesn't. On the other hand, he cannot remember his wife's birthday after 22 years of marriage (according to an article from The New Yorker).
A great overview of directions of inquiry in neuroaesthetics can be found here.
In summary, this group of neuroscientists believe that great visual art both condenses and exaggerates visual stimuli in a way which mimics how neurons naturally pre-process this stimuli. It seems plausible that the auditory cortex does something similar to the auditory stimuli.
Now why is it the case that the olfactory stimuli never really reached an artform status? The olfactory detection is more complex (structurally) than both visual or auditory detection. What about the part of the brain that processes the olfactory stimuli, is it less important and less integrated than the visual cortex, say? Does this mean that if dogs were creating art, it would be displayed in dining halls and not in galleries?