2-13-2014 Alexander Kranjec
Date: February 13, 2014, 4:30-6:00pm
Location: Berger Gallery (207 College Hall), Duquesne University.
Title: "Conceptualizing Space: Between Art and Neuroscience"
Presenter: Alexander Kranjec, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University
Abstract: I interviewed Mel Bochner (b. 1940), a New York City artist who may have staged the world's first conceptual art exhibition in 1966. As a cognitive neuroscientist, I became interested in Bochner's art, which addresses spatial semantics, mental representation, and anticipates a well known neuropsychological distinction between categorical and coordinate spatial relations. Despite using starkly different methods (e.g., artistic intuition vs. controlled experiments), conceptual art and cognitive neuroscience have some interesting common ground. Notably, both disciplines are principally engaged in describing, abstracting, and visualizing facts about basic categories of mind (space, objects, language, etc.). While the emerging field of neuroaesthetics is gaining momentum, most empirical investigations in aesthetics typically focus on perceptual preferences (i.e., "what is beauty?") whereas conceptual art often goes deeper ontologically (i.e., "what is art?"). By focusing on the spatial relations between objects, Bochner's art addresses deep questions regarding the meaning of art and art objecthood.
Bio: Alexander Kranjec studied Philosophy at Grinnell College and received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the City University of New York. He then worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Neurology Department and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kranjec studies how the mind and brain represent meaning, with and without language. He uses cognitive behavioral methods, neuroimaging (fMRI) and non-invasive brain stimulation (tDCS) in normal participants, and lesion analysis methods in patients with focal brain damage. He is particularly interested in how our representations of space bias and facilitate thought in other domains. At Duquesne he hopes to bridge phenomenological and cognitive neuroscience approaches to psychology.
All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited. Refreshments will be served.
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