The Artist Residency in the 21st Century: Experiments in Cultural Potentiality and Contamination

Cover of Lost Between the Extenisity-Intensivity Exchange

In the publication Lost Between the Extensivity-Intensivity Exchange published in 2008 by Onomatopee I brought forth the notion, through diagramatic and textual displays, that the inauguration of the 21st century could be described as a time of cultural torpor resulting from free floating anxiety, ambivalence, and wavering. The causes for this condition were many, but two stood out. First and foremost was the condition, suggested by the title, that of being lost in the ‘in-between zone’ of extensive and intensive labor and two evolving partially incommensurable world views, the local (tribal) and global (cosmopolitan) or the nation-state and the Earthling, merged. Superimposed upon this unstable frame of reference was, and still is, the disparity in epistemology encountered by the subject in the urban designed space of the city and its rural counterpart, although this difference is being quickly eroded away with the advent of fast connection internet and cheap hand-held browsing devices. Could the gridlock in the American Congress and David Cameron’s recent veto against the European Community be a result of this ensuing torpor, representing a clash between those of us who want to embrace a world view and those of us who want to recede into smaller more homogenous communities characteristic of the past? The question then needs to be reframed as: is this appropriate in today’s world that requires solutions to global issues like global warming, workers’ rights, and international terrorism? How, on one hand do we preserve local cultures and practices from global homogenization, while at the same time giving people all over the world the benefits of a global society like antibiotics, education for woman, and better sanitation – just to name a few. How do we soothe the needs of those who require familiarity and constancy with the requirements of those who want to move forward into cosmopolitanism or the idea of the ‘world citizen’?

Warren Neidich, Respekt, London, 100x 50 cm, Type C-print, 2005, (From: Earthling Series, 2004-2007)


It is to these conditions that I would like to direct this essay in the hope of finding a way out of this languor by creating a more productive rhetoric, a trans-thinking vocabulary that does not heed the restrictions of a language rooted either in the humanities or the sciences but a mixture of the two. By trans-thinking I want to address a state of mind that is free floating and unencumbered by contrived barriers constructed in thought itself. As will be argued shortly, we are moving out of a condition of strict neoliberalism; a ‘cognitive turn’ has taken place. Ideas around the brain and mind are playing more and more of a role in investment strategy and political policy. Anyone regularly reading the New York Times will be impressed by the frequency and range of articles concerning mind and brain recently published. In the month of December alone, eleven articles have been published. These articles have ranged from advice on how exercise benefits the brain, to a critique of the limits of neuroscience when researching works of art to a bevy of articles concerning traumatic injuries to the head in ice hockey and soccer.

With the advent of the Internet and the explosion of images created by new media, issues of attention have also become more and more important and with it, maladies like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) due to the lack of the ability to focus. In our attention economy, in order to be an adequate consumer, you need your skills of attention to be at their peak. Lack of or easily disrupted attention in the 21st century is a disability that needs to be treated, and the pharmaceutical companies have been all too happy to invent a pharmaceutical menagerie to do so. ADD as well as Depression, according to Franco Berardi, are part and parcel of a whole host of disabilities particular to our time. (1) “The other side of the new economy is naturally the use of psycho-stimulant or anti-depressive substances…How many, among new economy operators, survive without Prozac, Zoloft or even cocaine…When economic competition is the dominant psychological imperative of the social consortium, we can be positive that the condition for mass depression will be produced. This is in fact happening under our eyes.” (2) It is here upon this playing field that a new ethics must be formed and refusing a lexicon of humanism or science just won’t do. Furthermore, the idea of free market unencumbered by political restrictions and decisions is an idea that has no merit today, for cognitive capitalism is focused on the new territory of the mind and brain, specifically its decision-making processes which skews any reference to free choice which neo-liberalism requires. Consumer neuroscience itself is a wild card in the hand of neo-liberalism. (3)These issues would seem to be a far cry from any discussion of artist residencies. But artist residency programs are, in fact, the perfect site in which to explore a variety of arguments concerning notions of tribalism vs. cosmopolitanism; extensive and intensive labor; the representation of the other in a world of mass immigration and transnationalism; and free choice in neo-liberalism. By their very nature artist residency programs are forms of temporary settlements in a worldwide nomadic movement of peoples and ideas, and as a result, they embody notions of cultural contamination and semiocapitalism. ‘The rise of post-Fordist modes of production, which I will call Semiocapitalism, takes the mind, language and creativity as its primary tools for the production of value.’ (4) Just as Gilles Deleuze had to create a different language to redefine Michel Foucault’s ideas of ‘the disciplinary society’ with his term the ‘society of control’, today we need to redefine other concepts, such as the artist-in-residence, to make them relevant in contemporary discourse. (5)

Warren Neidich

Each epoch, driven by novel sets of immaterial social, political, psychological, and spiritual relations, must devise new linguistic modifications to capture the essences of these mutated cultural environments, so too must we understand that the artist-inresidence operates in a very different discursive field today than it did, say, in the late 19th century and early 20th century when patrons of the arts created the Corporation of Yaddo. In our moment of a network transnational society, other cultures with other languages and other ideas become essential to the production of a complex point-of-view that has the potential to produce complex brains. I want to show how the artist-inresidence might play a role in this, first by concentrating the cultural capital of the other and secondly by activating this ‘otherness’ with the marginal and dissociative apparatuses of aesthetic production. I want to invoke it as a place where the power of art might flex its muscle.

The essay is divided up into a number of sections. Section 1, entitled The building without a program or how the physical condition of the space of the residency might be mutated, sketches out the potential of the residency as a cultural modifier acting to release its innate plasticity, potentiality in reserve. Utilizing the idea invented by Deleuze of the ‘body without organs’ as a metaphor, the residency is likened to a body that is no longer subjected to the despotism of the a priori genetic plan and is released to express another side of itself. For instance, surrealism and its instigator Freudian psychoanalysis were understood as tools in the elaboration of a new organization of the cultural landscape in early modernism. As such, this essay outlines the ways in which it, through the rules of its practices, mutated the complex contingencies of the aesthetic-cultural landscape of its time. Thus, it elicited alternative reactions from the brain’s attention centers, creating, in response, elaborate changes in the materiality of the neurobiological substrate that might be registered as memory architectures. These restructurings and neural modulations are then shown to have resonance for a model of sculpting of the phantasmagoric relations of the phantom limb and its phenomena of remapping. This plasticity metaphor, in this case cultural plasticity, is also utilized to understand architecture as a malleable space in which the regulation of social and intellectual flows that determine a residency, could be unlocked to affect and mold the surrounding cultural landscape in which it is embedded, with the potential to produce novel circuits in the brain/mind complex that make sense of it. Section 2 Cultural Pluripotentiality and Neuroplasticity: Parallelactic Continuity and Discontinuity further develops this idea. Cultural pluripotentiality refers to the relation of the dominant culture to the minority cultures that orbit around and through it. Healthy cultures are continually in flux. Metaphorically speaking they are a multiplicity of instructional and informational resonances vibrating at different frequencies that are tethered together in time as a meshwork or network phenomena. The sum total of these significations gives rise to that culture’s identity and quality. Whether you are looking at the micro-cultural context of the tribe, clan or nation-state, or molar condition of the transnational empire, one cultural referendum usually predominates. This dominant culture controls the center of the network of relations and is thus involved in dominating that portion of the network’s activity, as all of its resonances eventually move through the center. At the margins this is less true. Although the dominant culture controls the character, principles and general intelligence of a particular tribe, nation state or transnational entity under moments of destabilization due to war, natural disasters, economic downfall or extreme paradigm shift, the network’s disposition might change. In this moment, the marginal culture might have the chance to express itself more intensely. For instance, these moments of destabilization might de-center the network making what was peripheral and marginal more central. I think this is what happened after Catherine David’s, Documenta X and Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta XI as together, one could argue, they were partly responsible for the cultural turn in art history. This process of destabilization and restabilization as something else is essential for the concept of cultural pluripotentiality as a form of cultural plasticity that constitutes a culture resiliency in times of change by allowing for the establishment of different intensities. In this moment of cognitive capitalism – delineated by immaterial labor and new forms of distributed general and machinic intelligence – the redistribution of the network’s capacity and the rearrangement of its immanent nodal identity is more important than ever. This cultural pluripotentiality is coupled to the conditions of the brain’s neural plasticity. As such, this cultural-neurobiologic plasticity complex, as I would like to call it, provides a mechanism for continued natural selection and survival.

Section 3, entitled Neurobiopolitics: The Mind’s Eye as a Place of Political and Social Contention, explores the notion of biopolitics of the mind. Biopower, as defined by Michel Foucault, constitutes the methods through which sovereignty constitutes docile and productive bodies and organizes life through the modulations of affect, for example, pleasure. (6) In cognitive capitalism, the brain and mind are the focus of sovereignty’s desire to normalize the subject’s gnostic potential in order to produce a ‘like minded’ people. This constitutes one of the conditions of neurobiopolitics. When neurobiopolitics focuses specifically on the neural plastic potential of the brain especially in the frontal lobes where it is most abundant, the term ‘neuropower’ is used. In tertiary economies it has been argued by the likes of Poalo Virno that the virtuouso performance leaves no trace. (7) It does not produce any material product. Through my project The Noologist’s Handbook (2008-2011), I argue that in late capitalism a trace is, in fact, left in the form of complex memory structures in the mind’s eye. Secondly I argue that this space of the mind’s eye is one of political contention and political determination. I then explain how a ‘residency without walls’ adapts to the rubric of the early 21st century and embraces this idea of the immaterialization of architecture as a mechanism by which to unhinge regimes of oppression that attempt to debilitate it as a cultural and neurobiological modifier. In Section 4, The Cultural Capitalism/Cognitive Capitalism Ratio and its Relation to Cerebral Complexity, I define my concept of the Cultural Capitalism / Cognitive Capitalism Ratio and tether it to cultural complexity. As opposed to the usual definition of cultural capitalism proposed by Pierre Bourdieu, in which cultural capital refers to those factors that include the cultural habits and dispositions inherited from the family and which are fundamentally important for a child’s success in school and therefore society, I put forth an alternative position in which cultural capital is seen as the degree to which artistic practices create other resistant possibilities for the mind by neural modulation. (8) I would like to expand Bourdieu’s position because it is not broad enough and does little to examine the emancipating aspects of cultural capital. I am extending it to include the idea that these same resources form the fundamental epistemological context that later inform the practices of those children that become artists and architects. This specialized knowledge becomes the fundamental platform though which they produce novel intellectual products and discourses, especially in the cognitive regime, to interact with those conditions of cognitive capitalism in order to mutate them. Beyond the definitions of cognitive capital currently circulating in the public’s eye as espoused by a group of Italian political philosophers such as Maurizio Lazzarato, Matteo Pasquinelli, Titziana Terranova and Christian Marrazzi, I would like to add the following: cognitive capitalism refers to a recent accentuation of an ongoing historical process in which the territory of the mind and brain is the focus of capital investment. Most importantly, cognitive capital organizes its apparatuses of power upon the brain’s neuroplasticity in the hope of producing a future passive and normalized human being. This, as we saw above, is called neuropower and will be elucidated later. I then proceed to explain what I call the ‘Cultural Capital/Cognitive Capital Ratio’, where a high ratio delineates an open society whilst a small value connotes a repressive one. In the following section called Further Elucidation of the Cultural Capital / Cognitive Capital Ratio and Neuromodulation, I investigate how this ratio could serve as indices for predicting how the neuroplasticity of the neural tissue is sculpted and modulated within specific political cultural environments. After a detailed discussion of neuroplasticity and its relation to epigenesis, I go on to discuss its link to cultural production. In this respect I tether this ratio to the concept of complexity both in culture and in the brain. The coupling of cultural complexity to what is referred to as degeneracy forms the final discussion in this section. Cultural complex environments that embrace high levels of cultural capital produce degenerate networks in the brain that give that brain a greater capacity to think creatively and improvisationally.


Comments On “Unstable Moments of Reconsideration, Reconsideration”

by: Warren Neidich
Published in: Reprise #1, Ed Mathieu Copeland, 2011, pps: 10-17.
Comments On “Unstable Moments of Reconsideration, Reconsideration”

“I am proposing the notion that we are here in the presence of something like a mutation in built space itself. My implication is that we ourselves, the human subjects who happen into this new space, have not kept pace with that evolution: there has been a mutation in the object unaccompanied as yet by any equivalent mutation in the subject. We do not yet possess the perceptual equipment to match this new hyperspace, as I will call it, in part because our perceptual habits were formed in that older kind of space I have called the space of high modernism…The newer architecture therefore - like other cultural products I have evoked in the proceeding remarks - stands as something like an imperative to grow new organs, to expand our sensorium”.

Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson.

The question that Jameson poses in the above quotation is the question I would like to take up in reference to the question of curating as an act of cross-generational reiteration. I would like to consider anew the impulse to re-enact the archive in the present moment of our event culture, where performance and labor are quickly becoming indistinguishable. I want to understand this in reference to ontogeny; as a culturally inflected development of the human organism. Finally I want to look at how destructive impulses, as they are utilized in art and curatorial practices, create new languages for those practices and, as a result, the imagination. The power of art will ultimately be understood as neuro-modulatory.


«The diagram is indeed a chaos, a catastrophe, but it is also a germ of order or rhythm. It is a violent chaos in relation to the figurative givens, but it is a germ of rhythm in relation to the new order of the painting. As Bacon says, it “unlocks areas of sensation”.»

Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, Gilles Deleuze

«The diagram or abstract machine is the map of relations between forces, a map of destiny, or intensity, which proceeds by primary non-localizable relation and at every moment passes through every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another.»

Foucault, Gilles Deleuze

What has happened since 1964, when Study for an Exhibition of Violence in Contemporary Art was first curated by Roland Penrose, and today in 2011 as it is ‘rendered’ again, first at the David Roberts Art Foundation, London and now reassembled again as Studies For a  Catalogue - A Study for an exhibition of Violence in Contemporary Art (Reprise 1964/2011) at Flat Time House, London? For one thing, the curator and many of the artists in the new publication have been born. Not an insignificant fact. A new generation of subjects has has been produced, no longer bound to the logics of modernism, but who have instead formed their habits of perception in the fluid, dynamic, non-linear, networked world of the post-modern, or whatever you want to call it. A new generation has emerged who have substituted the chart and the list, with its hierarchical structure, for the diagram, in which layers of intensity in flux are superimposed; whose perceptual habits, continuing with reference to Jameson’s above quote, have been reconfigured through active engagement and the event rather than passivity and stasis.

Plastic sociological, political, spiritual, economic and historical relations, as they interact with and are embodied by these novel cultural equivalences are spat out as architecture, painting, sculpture, installation and performance. In the end these changes affect the visual, auditory, haptic and kinesthetic topography of the cultural habitus, its distributions and, as a result, its subjectivities, especially the brains and minds, which operate inside them.

In this expanded field of distributed networks, time and space are reconfigured, reappraised and reconnected according to evolving, variable intensities, resulting in hubs and energy sinks that couple to our reflection and attention. These then produce the urgency alluded to by Jameson; changes that create the imperative to grow new organs of perception and provide the pressures, according to present day neuroscience, to sculpt the neurobiological substrate and architecture, giving it new potential to perceive and cognate the formally sublime space of post-modernism. How this might happen neurobiologically is beyond the scope of this essay, but for those interested I refer them to my recent essay «From Noopower to Neuropower: How Mind Becomes Matter» contained in the volume Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noo-Politics, edited by myself and Deborah Hauptmann, 010 Press, Rotterdam, 2011.


Space, its topographies and topologies, holds inside itself real material conditions but also possibilities. In cultural terms its ability to be described at any time is a product of known and unknown factors that together contribute to its inherent pluri-potentiality. The word pluri-potentiality, as its roots imply, signifies many or several meanings or possibilities that still remain latent, awaiting the proper set of cultural circumstances in which to become real or instantiated. I am using this expression to delineate the conditions of space, both expressed and unexpressed, that are articulated by a particular context and that are coupled to similar but different relations existing inside the subject who operates in that space. The brain, by its virtue to adapt to constantly evolving habitats, is also pluri-potent and its power resides in its ability to change to fit the social, political, economic, historical and cultural conditions it is born into and in which it must operate.

The brain of humans, especially the outer shell called the cerebral cortex, contains an excess of pluri-potentiality at birth referred to as neuroplasticity. The brain has the potential, for instance, to learn any of the 6,700 languages presently existing on this earth, although each of us learns just a few. But the potential is there, especially for the child, to learn any of them. Concepts themselves are pluri-potent, responding to the mutating linguistic and cultural milieu over time, resulting in new surfaces presented to our understanding. Even the white cube, with its anonymity and starkness, holds infinite possibilities to become. Many artistic interventions have attacked its surface and attempted to destroy it in order to reconfigure it and, as a result, provide new surfaces, some of them rough and contorted, in order to make new statements about the condition of art and its container. Liz Larner’s, Corner Basher, 1988 performed at 303 Gallery in New York comes to mind.


The history of exhibitions is a history of the traces of that mind in a state of becoming. Is this, in fact, the story of A Study for an Exhibition of Violence in Contemporary Art, an exhibition that has been reconstituted at different times and in different spaces, continually shifting its presentation to fit its specific context? That history is reflected as cultural memory in relation to the facts of this roving nomadic exhibition: the ICA, David Roberts Art Foundation and Flat Time House present different discursive contexts and problematics through which the exhibition can be redefined. First, at the ICA, the exhibition was categorized into different frames of reference using panels, like one might do for a card catalogue in a library. Linearly distributed, they followed  the course of the ICA’ s interior architecture and they were each labeled, from one to thirty. One might have experienced this exhibition as one might read a book, page by page. As each page is turned, new content unveils itself to the eyes, body and mind, arranged as a narrative displaying different categories of violence and destruction.

For instance, Panel 1 concerns itself with introductory remarks and is illustrated by reproductions of Van Gogh’s Willows at Sunset, 1888, and Pablo Picasso’s Woman and Dead Child, 1937. (Few actual works of art were included in the original installation at the ICA, most were represented in photographic reproduction. These works of art illustrated the categories used. I will not recite the full list of works, as I am more interested in the arrangement of topics.) Panel 2 sets the stage for ‘Violence Observed: Nature’ which is divided into Panel 2, ‘Landscape’, and Panel 3, ‘Animals’. Panel 4 is the beginning of ‘Violence Observed: Human Behavior’ and is subcategorized into ‘Sex’ and ‘Sport’. The next panels continue this category: Panel 5, ‘War’, Panel 6, ‘Fighting’, ‘Murder’ and ‘Torture’, Panel 7, ‘Suicide’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Madness’, Panel 8, ‘Anguish’ and ‘Anger’ and Panel 9, ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’. At Panel 10 the exhibition takes another turn with ‘Violence Imagined: Symbolic Violence’. It is made up of ‘Religion’ and ‘Myth’ and continued in Panel 11 with more about myth. Panels 12, 13 and 14 follow with the categories of ‘Dreams’, ‘Sex’, ‘Obsessions’ and ‘Signs’. At Panel 15 another abrupt switch is made under the grand category ‘Creative Violence: New Styles- New Conceptions’. These panels read as a history of art in the twentieth century. Panel 15, ‘Colour: Fauves’, Panel 16, ‘Significant Distortion’, ‘Expressionism’, Panel 17, ‘Movement: Futurism’ and, ‘Optical’, and finally Panel 18 and 19, ‘Irrational: Surrealism’ and Panel 20, ‘Exuberance’. Panel 21 introduces another category ‘Violence as a Weapon’ with the subcategory ‘Anti-society’ followed by Panel 22, ‘Anti- Religion’, Panel 23, ‘Anti-Art Dada’, Panel 24, ‘Anti-War’, Panel 25, ‘Anarchy’, Panel 26, ‘Polemical’, and finally Panel 27 ‘Irony and Humour’. ‘Direct Expression’ is the final major heading and includes Panel 28, 29 and 30 under the subcategory, ‘Action’.

The works of art that are subsumed by these categories act as forms of proof for the suppositions provided by their respective panel headings. They are rigorously incarcerated by the discursive logistics of the overall plan that controls their spatial coordinates and restricts their pluri-potentiality. They are physically contained by their designated panel assignments, unable to jump beyond their physical and metaphysical confines into another category or to fill in at another location. Of course, each painting could be used to reference many different topics, but in this arrangement they are allowed just one. One is reminded here of the conditions of Michel Foucault’s term ‘disciplinary society’ in which architecture itself becomes biopolitical. The installation affects the minds that regard it, instituting hierarchies with which to form basic understandings.


My purpose here is not to recount the content of the catalogue of the exhibition, you can go online for that, but rather to make two important points that relate to my original conjecture. That, in fact, the mind formed inside modernism finds the post-modern space sublime. The corollary being that the mind formed in Post-Modernism is characterized by habits of perception and cognition that refer to alternate forms of neurobiological distributions which provide it with the ability to understand these sublime spaces. These alternative, materialized dispositions also have the potential to create new forms of cultural materialization. I am arguing that the brain/mind of Mathieu Copeland is, beyond its individual character, sculpted according to the logics of his generation. He is a standin for his generation, who share common neurobiological materializations in the form of  memories, coded and summated as the activity of millions of synaptic switchings. As such, he is an agent for the production of cultural forms that instantiate those generational proclivities, for example, the post-modern. I argue that his brain/mind is sculpted very differently than that of his predecessor, Roland Penrose, whose brain was sculpted in the space and time conditions of modernism; indeed, that the different epochal, culturally derived habits of perception and cognition lead to very different installation formats, produced for very different generational audiences accustomed to varying readings of space and time.

The mind of Roland Penrose that decided the order of the original content of the ICA exhibition and administered its design, was attempting to make sense of a bevy of existing original materials, randomly distributed over time and topics, that dealt in a haphazard fashion with the idea of destruction and violence in art. I quote from his preface from the show, “Violence is an elemental force which can not be neglected and the arts have traditionally claimed their share of the emotional excitement it provides. Martyrs, battles, catastrophes, murders and rapes have been the motif for colouring many masterpieces with blood. It flows as freely in the ritualism of Italian Primitives as in the realism of Goya, Gericault and Delacroix.» By using an outline or chapter heading form of classification he was hoping to produce a taxonomy, or natural history, of violence in art, to use an expression found in Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things, in hopes of removing the hitherto obfuscation that surrounded the topic. The cataloguing of forms of violent expression as they appear in the arts was the first impulse to arrange this information. It was followed by a second-order rearrangement, within the catalogue, with its different rules of formatting. (Don’t forget there were no InDesign programs at this time.) The secondorder rearrangement, or meta-arrangement, I would suggest is a second order cataloguing or re-cataloguing. This manifestation, as it existed formally as text choreographed and styled on printed page, was entombed in the ICA archive at the Tate in London until the curator plucked it from its shelf and gave it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The act of exhuming this content, buried deep and for so long, allows us to understand the power of this original, classical model for creativity; one that lit the way for the Enlightenment, but which now seems antiquated and anachronistic. Even within its hierarchical constraints, the possibility emerges for ‘Creative Violence’ to produce ‘New Styles - New Conceptions’. It is here that violence acts as a generative force, breaking up that which is known and understood into a thousand pieces, in order to be reassembled in a new construction of the known in order to create a new territory of the unknown. This is a continuous cyclical phenomenon. Violence, and its cohort destruction, punch holes in institutional logics in order to create new territories for the imagination to operate within. Are these methodologies of destruction a key to understanding the formal adaptations necessary to make the contents of the catalogue real again? Will violent curatorial methodologies be necessary to exhume the catalogue and re-enact it in a revitalized threedimensional space, inhabited not by dust particles and the faintest of light, but by living, breathing human beings rummaging through scopic regimes and haptic kinesthetic logistics of the 21st century? A public used to watching fast editing on Music Television Videos, reverse action replays on sports television, and distressed photographs that portray partial body parts with their need for assumptive pattern recognition. A new public and viewership privy to new forms of viewing, who witness the simulacra of the work deposited anew, almost sixty years later, in the pluri-potential white cube structure of the David Roberts Art Foundation.


But the story does not end here. For, as a witness of the exhibition installation downstairs at the David Roberts Art Foundation and a futuristic voyeur of the installation at Flat Time House, what becomes quite apparent is that the modulated context has pressured the installation to emerge as something quite different.

When one reviews the documentation from the David Roberts Art Foundation, what is evident is that the curator has thrown off his cloak as a disinterested observer attempting to clear away the detritus of unmeaning in order to rehabilitate a common understanding. Instead, following in the footsteps of the great Harald Szeemann, he has become an artist himself. Or, should I say, he has gone native. He has contaminated the original presentation at the ICA by reneging on its original cataloguing and refutes the linear, extensive, arboreal logic of his predecessor(s), instead reinstituting the logic of the salon as diagram or rhizome. Images are assembled as they might be on an i-photo library source page or, even better yet, a Final Cut Pro browser window displaying its clips.

At the David Roberts Art Foundation there was a nod to the original catalogue, but it was almost invisible, especially for those not privy to the original installation format. The topic headings were still there but were less obvious, not inscribing an entire panel but inserted into a stream of similarly processed information. Photocopies hung on the wall, one subdivision followed immediately by the next, blurring the boundaries between each. What was more apparent and attention grabbing were the incongruities created by the original works, borrowed from the David Roberts Collection and hung on the wall, which stuck out like gorgeous sore thumbs. Instead of flat photocopies these works were uncharacteristically large and either framed or resting on pedestals, causing the eye to change its course rather spastically. They made the whole installation unbalanced and odd. They broke up the original, ordered rhythms and created jumping-off points for the eye, which was averted from its normal path, as well as creating junctions for the dissemination of information between now coalescing information streams.

Take for instance the framed Lichtenstein work entitled Brushstroke, 1965, which butted against both Bridget Riley’s Fragment 1, 1965, on its left and a photocopy of Ben Shawn’s Sacco and Venzetti, 1931-1932, on its right. The Lichtenstein stretches from panel 20, ‘Exuberance’ where the work resides, all the way to Panel 17, ‘Optical’, where the Riley sustains itself, and finally connects the whole ‘inter-panel complex’ to Panel 21 where the Shawn lays waiting, ready to proclaim ‘Violence’. Of note is that the Bridget Riley was a substitution for ‘Disfigured Circle’, 1965, which was not in the collection, whilst Fragment 1, 1965, was. This kind of substitution occurred, according to Copeland, 10-15 times. Inter-panel complexes dot the surface of the wall. They are the essential entity that makes inter-panel readings and communications possible. They are the dispositifs of the exhibition and demand a post-modern reading, with its call for distributed information and networking rather than that which was originally allowed for under the strict rationality of high modernism. The display set up here was somewhat analogous to words and images displayed on computer screens with hypertext that allow the viewer to jump fields of attention from one webpage to another. Hubs of interest, where intense flows of information congregate and upon which the observers’ eyes rest in order to resample continuities based on personal biases rather then institutional prerogatives. This microdistribution of the sensible, the arrangement of the images in the gallery and the political conditions that this aesthetic presentation implies, has been mutated according to the logics of the information society with its web designs, computer games, internet and online  discussions. (I am not implying by this reference to technology that technology is the most important force for near-modulation. I am actually saying that the changing conditions of the neurobiological architecture give the mind new forms of mechanic intelligence with which to think and that, in fact, new technologies are the result of that imaginative thinking. New technologies are produced in order to give the mind a new means to reflect upon itself in order for it to understand the new evolving self-condition.) The installation of the works mimicked these conditions, giving them a renewed freshness, at the same time alluding to the revivified productive labor of the cultural worker whose mind has been selected by these new contingencies. The apparatus of the exhibition is the mimic of the conditions of the epistemological reframings caused by modulated neurobiological apparatus and architectures of the brain molded in the information age.


Space is defined not only by its material basis, its walls, windows and ceilings, but as well by the discussions that ensue about it. Buildings and the spaces they hold, as Patrick Schumacher has intoned, have become discursive events. As such, buildings become part of linguistic performances. In tertiary economies, according to Paolo Virno in The Grammar of the Multitude, in which performance and labor become indistinguishable, immaterial linguistic events that leave no traces are the new contingencies for the formation of capital. ‘Gossip networking sites’ like Facebook attest to this. I am arguing however that these new linguistic forms do have a material presence; that they inscribe messages of sorts upon the wet, mutable pluri-potentiality of the brains and minds of the audience, gathered to view the performance. ( As we move towards Neo Global Cognitive Capitalism with new technologies at hand, like software agents and social network sites, like never before it is the mind and brain which constitute the new territory for dominating strategies of international capitalism. This power to inscribe upon the masses perceptual and cognitive habits is not new. Benjamin was hip to these possibilities and in his Work of Art essay he describes how works of art in the hands of the Third Reich were used to produce an ‘organic community’ (the German People or nation) as a work of art itself.

The exhibition, like the architecture, visual art and film mentioned above, is also a mirror to self-reflect upon the conditions of the changing relations of the epochal generationally sculpted neurobiological mindedness. This in itself provides for the potential for political expression. Most importantly, in the context of this text, the act of exhibition production is always in one way or another a political act.


“This is why this return of what is never simply itself. What returns is the movement through which something other is inscribed within the same, which, now no longer then the same, names what is always other than itself.” Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhauser.

The history of curating is a history of the reading of the mutating conditions of the culturally constructed zeitgeist as it is manifest in trends of artistic production. Artists are the selfdescribed agents of that. Curators reading artistic works in the way that critics read texts find emerging patterns in the plethora of artistic bricolage that clutters the zones of cultural production. They, as cultural workers, come to the cultural field with different forms of procedures, apparatus and discourses to read the ensuing mutations of that landscape. They use artists’ works as their palette, constructing a meta-language through which to  understand the new emerging patterns. (Patterns that, like ready-mades, can emerge from the noise of the uncommon, disordered and ensuing destruction of information itself.) They decode and disseminate those changes to the culture at large.

The recent resurgence of re-enactment as a conceptual tool, most readily illustrated by Marina Abramovic in her exhibition The Artist is Present, is now spilling over into the field of curating. Interest in historical ready-mades as a means to understand our own contemporary culture has sent artist and curator alike scurrying into the archive to mine the rich fertility of the past. Sometimes, as is the case here, to find original books and catalogues from which to build contemporary productions from memories of exhibitions as they are documented in words and pictures. The reasons for this interest are multitudinous. From the condition of the eternal return itself, to the need to reread works of the past with a contemporary perspective post 9/11 and internet, to the unveiling of the pluri-potential nature of these early works, which contain inside themselves multiple readings not yet interpreted and that require contemporary subjects who have, like Jameson intimated, grown new organs of perception to untangle them.

Excerpt Neuropower

Sculpting the Brain and I don’t mean like Rodin.

Part 1.

“…The most extensive modification to take place in human brain evolution - the disproportionate expansion of the cerebral cortex, and specifically of the prefrontal cortex - reflects the evolutionary adaptation to this intensive working memory processing demand imposed by symbol learning. So the very nature of symbolic reference, and its unusual cognitive demands when compared to non-symbolic forms of reference, is a selection force working on those neurological resources most critical to supporting it. In the context of a society heavily dependent on symbol use-as is any conceivable human society, but no nonhuman societies-brains would have been under intense selection to adapt to these needs. …This, then, is a case of selection pressure affecting the evolution of a biological substrate (the brain) and yet which is imposed, not by the physical environment, but ultimately from a purely semiotic realm.” (1)

“From the perspective of distributed cognition, this sort of individual learning is seen as the propagation of a particular sort of pattern through a community. Cultural practices assemble agencies into working assemblages and put the assemblages to work. Some of these assemblages may be entirely contained in an individual, and some may span several individuals and material artifacts.” (2)

Today more then ever it is culture that has replaced nature as the primary force of epigenesis. Epigenesis is defined as the means by which the unfolding of the genetically prescribed formation of the brain, is altered by its interaction with the environment. When one considers brain function in this context the term neural plasticity is used. Neural plasticity refers to the ability of the components of neurons, their axons, dendrites and synapses plus their extended forms as neural network systems, to be modified by experience. The neurobiologist Marcus Jacobson defined neural plasticity as a process through which the nervous system adjusts to changes in the internal and external milieu. Adjustments in the internal milieu can occur after brain injuries. For instance, a child is able to recover function of language production and reception after trauma or stroke to the left language hemisphere of the brain. The right hemisphere, not normally an active part of that system, is capable of being modified so as to assume these language functions with little deficit if the onset of left hemisphere dysfunction occurs at an early enough age. Adjustments can also be in response to changes in the external milieu. The heterochronous unfolding of the genetically determined neurobiological time table creates what are called critical periods of development in which certain regions and systems of the neurobiological substrate are extremely sensitive to the conditions of, for instance, the linguistic-cultural milieu, which predispose it to language acquisition during a particular time window. But the bigger question then becomes what language. The child’s brain has the potential to learn any of the 6,700 languages in the world. Which one is actually learned is dependent upon the close coupling of the childs brain-mind to his or her linguistic field. (3) As we will see in what follows it is this condition of neural plasticity that will be key in understanding the rapprochement of Rancière’s distribution of the sensible and its concomitant regulation of the pluripotentiality of the brain’s neural plasticity. I will argue that the “ institutional stabilization” of the distribution of sensibility, which is what policing that field is all about and defines the new conditions of power, fulfills the necessary conditions to restrict the potential heterogeneity implicit in the pluripotent character of the neurobiological substrate resulting in the production of a people. When we focus our attention on the microcultural context of the work place and understand it as a form of restricted distribution of sensibility, as a controlled space to perceive in action, we begin understand its historical effect on neuromodulation. (4)

As we advance historically from primary economies of extraction to those described as secondary, involved with manufacturing, to those involved in services defined as tertiary we also move through different assemblages of sensational fields. (5) When the conditions of the information economy predominate, as they do in Northern European countries and the United States, and the emergent forms of general intelligence that result are expressed as conditions of networked and distributed systems defined as intensive, the possibility for intensive neural sculpting is great. Let us look deeper into the reasons why.

Two conditions have implications for how we might understand the idea of general intelligence. In the Fragments on Machines, Marx understands the idea of general intelligence as a machine intelligence. In the transition from artisanship to mechanized production of the assembly line the unitary consciousness necessary for the crafting of the unique object is now linearly distributed throughout an assemblage of laborers who function in concert to produce the replicated object now reproduced ad infinitum. This is extensive labor as it produces a similar product over and over again. The laborer is simply a cog in the wheel of production and is subsumed by the machine as simply conscious linkages between the machine’s mechanical organs. “But once adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labor passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the machine, or rather, an automatic system of machinery (system of machinery: the automatic one is merely its most complete, most adequate form, and alone transforms machinery into a system), set in motion by an automaton, a moving power that moves itself; this automaton consisting of numerous mechanical and intellectual organs, so that the workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages.” (6) Their labor is fetishized into a series of partial acts that together produce the object and the machine is what binds all their minds together diachronously and synchronously. Together, as a single entity, they produce similar objects as long as the machine functions correctly. However things can go wrong as comically dramatized in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, where, while working on an assembly line he becomes accidentally consumed by the machine. In the transition to a post-Fordist condition this assemblage of individuals and the architecture that reflects it breaks up and is dispersed horizontally, distributed across multiple times and spaces and the products that emerge are singular and unique. The reflective machine intelligence is therefore of a different kind; it is intensive. Today the general intelligence, the machines and apparatuses that bind people together and the social processes thus engendered are invisible, non-hierarchical and distributed, and the information they produce reflect the conditions of this production. Hence, the collectivity of the human intellect is ultimately also evident in the machine. Machines “are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process.” (7) As we will see in the age of information and mass intellectuality it is,in fact information itself that sculpts neural plasticity. General intelligence here is is then defined as information produced by these mutating conditions of labor accessible to any population, which are also the new conditions of neuromodulation. These conditions of distributed information are powerful attractors that can act as powerful regulators of attention and memory and thus are sites of what Maurizio Lazzarato calls Noo-power. (8) This Noo-power is what forms the basis for Neuropower in which the brain’s neural plasticity and its pluripotentiality to become, are the sites of power’s interrogation. It is in this context that the sculpting of the neural plasticity, through assemblages of trajectories of attention, subsumed in the regulatory patterns of built space with its implicit temporality and representational and presentational rationality, can occur. Whereas Noo-power concerns people in the present, Neuropower concerns the production of people in the future.

In the conditions of intensive culture the representation of an object as something real is substituted by its branded value where what determines its nature are the stories that orbit around it and the complex conditions of its brand equity. The cereal in a box of cereal is not what creates its value but rather the way that the information on the box design excites a concomitant “considered” neural architecture sculpted over time by a complex assemblage of a previously designed context that the individual has experienced and into which the box is inserted. The cereal box is reinstalled ad infinitum into a system of recategorical memory that creates an active site for its infinite retrieval in the minds eye as both real and imaginary. Rather than linear equivalence that organized and delineated the ecology of objects in an artisan economy and began to dissolve in a Fordist one, what defines the post-Fordist landscape of cultural objects is a non-linear condition of value that is formulated by conditions of communicative labor as it functions along the distribution channels of media and hypermedia. As we will see shortly, general intelligence according to the model I would like to develop is a condition of the ratio between the apparatus of Cognitive Capital and Cultural Capital. Different cultural contexts allow different expressions of each which have implications for the production of a people or multiplicity. Cognitive Capital being defined as that “information distribution and production system” centered around knowledge and utilized by sovereignty and the conditions of the administration of normalcy which produces a system of homogenized thinking. Cultural Capital, was first designated by Pierre Bourdieu, but is used here in the context of the ways and means through which artists using their own materials, practices, histories, apparatuses, critiques, performances, spaces and non-spaces produce objects, non-objects and activities which, when assembled in the cultural landscape, mutate the conditions of that landscape and produce resistant paradigms. It is at the intersection of these mutating conditions expressed as a resultant cultural referendum, that the brain and mind are called out to by different attentional concoctions activating different attentional neurologic tool-boxes. Thus the relationship between Cognitive Capitalism and Cultural Capitalism has implications for how the brain itself will be formed and I would like to suggest its possibilities for thought. It is at the crossroads of competition and cooperation - between these two systems of abstract knowledge production - that the brain-mind is produced.

Part 2.

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or — more exactly — with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother? I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters — but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead …

Tobin Harshaw, Can ‘No’ Revive the Republicans,, 3/26/2010

But how is the development of brain and mind linked to the history of objects, abstract knowledge and to the production of the subject in the context of Neo-liberal capitalism with its emphasis on immaterial labor and knowledge industries? In order to formulate a theory of resistance one must address the conditions of this all-pervasive system. In what follows, I use ideas from The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection as formulated by Gerald Edelman as well as Neural Constructivism, formulated by Steven R. Quartz a1 and Terrence J. Sejnowski. (9) (10) (11) The basic question that these two theories ask is what are the determinants of neural development. Is it, as Neural Darwinism would suggest, an unfolding of a prescribed neurobiological process, in which a stochastic exuberant growth of neural elements is followed by a period of pruning and regression that through a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest regime becomes sculpted by various environmental contingencies into a finely tuned sensorial-perceptual-cognitive machine? This theory has the benefit of parsimony and mimics in certain ways the concrete genetic and immunological systems already in place. Alternately, according to Neural Constructivism, instead of simply a regression of neural elements, development is rather “a progressive increase in the structures underlying representational complexity” and these changes depend on an “interaction with a structured environment to guide development.” (12) Furthermore “dendritic development fulfills important requirements for a non-stationary learning mechanism, suggesting how dendritic development under the influence of environmentally derived activity conforms to cognitive schemes for the construction of mental representations.” (13) My argument is that each theory provides a theoretical foundation for us to understand how nature or designed space, might play an important role in the production of the neural architecture to be used in thought.

As we saw above, while Neural Darwinism uses Darwinian paradigms of selection in the face of niche contingencies, Neural Constructivism recounts the ways and means by which age related cognitive improvements are the result of neural networks becoming increasingly inter-connected, functionally more specialized and sometimes progressively complex through the brain’s relationship with the stimulating conditions of complex representational matrices. In this way Neural Constructivism is more Bergsonian. (14, 15, 16)

For our purposes here, both theories and perhaps the two together operate well as a heuristic model as well as being compatible with a post-structural theoretical model I would like to elucidate. Cultural conditions are evolving and they produce veracity and verification. The subunits of culture may evolve together or separately and these bound and synchronized cultural conditions produce and sculpt conditions of mind and brain to which they become coupled. These assemblages or props are historically derived and are embedded in the distributions of sensibility as cognitive gestalts hybridized to planned trajectories of thought. Along with the sculpted internal cognitive loops to which they are coupled the cultural external circuit component completes the organic-inorganic assembled network. This is the building block of a complex field of such loops. When these loops are tethered together a hundred or thousand fold and as result of their proximity and overlap form assemblages, their dynamic and emergent intensive conditions begin to be realized.

It matters little whether one takes Neural Darwinism or Neural Constructivism as your model in the argument laid out here. For both in the end rely on the conditions of epigenesis, and in this case a cultural epigenesis, to produce or sculpt the neurobiological substrate into the neurobiological architecture – to change the skin of brain into the flesh of mind. “ Plastic human brains may nonetheless learn to factor the operation and information-bearing role of such external props and artifacts deep into their own problem-solvng routines, creating hybrid cognitive circuits that are themselves the physical mechanisms underlying specific problem-solving performnaces. We thus come to what is arguably the most radical contemporary take on the potential cognitive role of of nonbiological props and structures: the idea that, under certain conditions, such props and structures might count as proper parts of extended cognitive processes”

(Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind, Oxford, 2008. Pg. 68).

As you will see I view Neural Selectionism as the dominating force early on and Neural Constructivism more important later, keeping in mind that Darwinian forces may still play a role. All agree that a phenomenon of excessive growth of neurons in the early years of life is characteristically followed by a reactionary depletion. What happens after that is an answer that Neural Constructivism attempts to answer. ( 18)

The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, the hallmark of Neural Darwinism, is made up of three components. Simply stated there is the Primary Repertoire that is a product of Developmental Selection, the Secondary Repertoire that is produced by Experiential Selection and Re-entry which stabilizes and elaborates upon the Secondary Repertoire. I will cover Developmental and Experiential Selection now, leaving Re-entry for later.

This Primary Repertoire describes the condition of the initial variability of the anatomy of the brain at birth that is produced by a process called Developmental Selection. First it relates to the variation that results from the combination of the DNA contributed by the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg as two very diverse genetic heritages. Secondly it relates to the history of the species itself in its evolutionary journey and the conditions of the genes that reflect that history. Finally it is the result of events that take place during the pregnancy. For example the effects of smoking, drinking or cocaine use on the condition of the developing fetus’s brain are well known. The combined effect of these three processes is the production of the Neurobiologic Common from which the brain/mind emerges through its engagement with culture.

I would like to call attention to the Primary Repertoire as the site of what is referred to as neural biodiversity and what I would like to refer to as the Neurobiologic Common or Neurozoon. The Neurozoon embodies the full extent of the possibilities that a human brain can become and awaits the moment of its unfolding not as a natavist series of heterochronous events emblazoned in the codon of the genome but rather an unfolding or becoming in the context of a duet between itself as the inherent structural conditions and apparatic conditions of brain in the context of nature or as I am arguing today, designed culture. This Neurozoon emerges as a subset of the Zoe, which is then sampled to become the Neurobios. The Neurobios is the secondary repertoire.

"Biodiversity is a composite term used to embrace the variety of types, forms, spatial arrangements, processes, and interactions of biological systems at all scales and levels of organization from genes to species to ecosystems, along with the evolutionary history that led to their existence.” (19) Neural biodiversity by analogy is first of all a species-specific condition that delineates the specific a priori variability of neural elements, including their physical and chemical idiosyncrasies, and the neurobiological apparatus that allow for the neuroplastic potentiality to express itself. It is a condition of the evolutionary history of that species and contains thereinits complete history of the neurobiological adaptations it required in its ascendance as that species.

I would like to contend that Neuropower is in fact directed towards this neural biodiversity, attempting to limit its potential. In other words, just as global biodiversity is currently under siege by various factors affecting the conditions of global capitalism including, pollution, over-fishing and the encroachment of habitat, effecting as it does the diversity of flora and fauna, so too do other conditions of this same world system, those that strangle difference to produce a homogenization of the cultural field and limit epigenetic neural biodiversity. For instance it is feared that in a century half of the six thousand seven hundred languages which are now active on our earth will be deleted. Furthermore design culture affects not only the early depletions and pruning of neural arborizations like for instance a topiarist who clips the branches of thick bushes to produce wonderful fantastic shapes but also choreagraphs and guides the regrowth of the branches along prescribed pathways to produce specific shapes and forms. Neural Darwinsim would be the topiarist but Neural Constructivism would be the choreagrapher. Further on I will show how the homogenization of the cultural field by for instance the international style or franchise architecture, both conditions of the global economy, restricts variation and as a result produces a crisis of neural network diversification leading to a crisis of the imagination. Therefore Neuropower is not simply about past evolutionary history but of its history in the future.

The Secondary Repertoire is a result of epigenesis and neural plasticity during a process called Experiential Selection. The word repertoire is very often related to musical performance and designates the full scope of a performer’s abilities. In fact, Gerald Edelman, one of the founders of Neural Darwinism, is himself a musician as well. The obvious connection to new labor as a virtuoso performance and its association with a number of possible activities that link labor and politics and which have repercussions for the material of memory interests us here. (20) One could say that this term could also be used in a Neural Constructivist account. However instead of being the result of a regression and deletion of neural elements the secondary repertoire in this account is the product of a productive complexification and intensification. Epigenesis refers to the process by which the environment affects the patterns of stimulation and communication in the neurons and neural networks of the Primary Repertoire. Hebbian theory, which states that neurons that fire together wire together preferentially, is operative in the Primary Repertoire where spontaneous electrical activity stimulates genetically prescribed a priori networks. ( 21) In the Secondary Repertoire that electrical activity is joined by that which is generated by objects and object relations in the world both real and abstract and, in the case of our world, the conditions of information and its distribution as dynamic codes in the real-imaginary-virtual interface (RIVI). (22) In an intensive culture it is these dynamic codes that have become most important. Hebbian Dynamics and Neural Darwinism state that those neurons most intensely stimulated develop firing potentials that are selectively reinforcing where as those not as stimulated undergo a process termed apoptosis and die out or manage to form connections with networks that are favored. Consequently, in the battle for limited neural space the stimulated neurons and their networked condition replace those that have receded.

The development of ocular dominance columns of layer IV of the primary visual cortex is a case in point. Ocular dominance columns are anatomical structures that appear like columns in microscopic examination found in the visual cortex and are anatomically defined regions of input from one eye or the other. They contain a number of different cell types that utilize different strategies for the processing of visual information like simple, complex and hypercomplex cells which all share a common visual field. As a unit they are important in processing visual information and are driven by one eye or the other. In experiments by Hubel and Weisel, enucleation of one or the other eye created disruptions in the normal columnar structure with those neural elements coding for the non-enucleated eye displacing those cells formerly driven by the now enucleated eye. “As Antoni and Stryker note, two hypothesis regarding their development have been suggested. One, conforming to selectionism, emphasizes two phases in the right eye development: a period of exuberant growth followed by selective axonal pruning. The other, more constructivist, hypothesis emphasizes the general expansion of axon collaterals alongside selective pruning.” (23) This theory promotes neural development as a system which is said to be regressive and subtractive. Neural Constructivism interprets this Hebbian Mechanism as favorably exciting those neurons most apt to be stimulated, thus promoting their further development and producing increased synaptic numbers and dendritic spines. Where “representational features of the cortex are built from the dynamic interaction between neural growth mechanisms and environmentally derived neural activity…. and that this growth is a progressive increase in the representational properties of the cortex.” (24)

Again the mechanism is important to consider in order to understand the brain’s development, but for our purposes an immature neurobiological substrate in both cases is transformed into a more finely tuned environmentally and contextually driven machine. What then is the effect of living in a networked society with the internet, cell phones, face book and twitter? We are all spending more and more time in linked environments and these linked social anatomies are finding expression in the modifications of designed built space. The Alishan Tourist Routes of Reiser and Umemoto, Toyo Ito’s Taichung Metroploitan Opera House and The Island City Central Park Gringrin, and Zaha Hadid’s Hungerburg Funicular are cases in point. What then is the effect of these new spatial and temporal contingencies on experiential selection? What then of the perceptual and cognitive habits, which they elaborate? Although we have defined the Primary Repertoire and the Secondary Repertoire separately, they are part of the same overlapping and interdependent process. The genetic instructions continue to unfold throughout life, the critical period for language learning being a case in point, in the context of learning and this learning changes the conditions of the brain itself. Learning a language changes the conditions of interacting with the world and what becomes relevant to attention changes. What we pay attention to is key to what we learn and what neural networks will be activated and amplified.

Experiential Selection does not, like natural selection in evolution, occur as a result of differential reproduction, but rather differential amplification of certain neuronal populations. Those neurons, neural networks and distributed neural mappings that are most frequently and intensely stimulated by, for instance, advertised toys that appear and reappear in real and televised environments or movie stars whose images adorn multiple platforms synchronously on billboards, lap tops, movie screens and televisions, will develop more efficient firing patterns or become progressively more phase locked – synchronously tethered together – giving them selective advantage over those that are not. Let us examine this relationship more deeply.

Recently an image of a Pepsi Cola can occurred recurrently all over New York City on billboards of different sizes placed strategically for maximum visibility. The advert, not surprisingly, was effectively designed for maximum and rapid perception by both a pedestrian and auto driven public. (Traffic jams slow automobile traffic to a crawl.) The color and design of the advert interestingly used strategies first found in the pop paintings of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana. The advert was designed with a specific context in mind in which other products advertised and within the same visual milieu reverberated together producing a network of stimulation. In other words the advert itself and its relation to other similarly designed adverts in combination produced an intense effect upon the viewer. It is these individual forms and their combined effect in the network in which they are embedded that produces correlational learning resulting in temporal coincidence at pre and post-synaptic membranes in local and global cortical mappings that strengthen synapses in the brain. But this advert also occurred on multiple platforms distributed repeatedly on television screens, computer laptops throughout the planet simultaneously. In other words we, as members of the planet earth are stimulated by the same franchised sensations that know no national boundaries. These new contingencies provide the new affordances of the planetary urban environment, to use a Gibsonian term. Those neurons that code for these newly engineered affordances are coupled with these intense stimuli and are therefore more apt to be favored over other neurons and neuronal networks in future encounters with those stimuli. These conditions of Neoliberal Capitalism makes future encounters probable!

These stimuli can also be grouped together into larger ensembles of stimulation that are persistently aligned in the environment and thus are always coded together as a form of cultural mappings. Cultural mappings are intensive, delineated by a multiplicity of immanent social, historical, psychological, economic and psychic relations that are collaged together forming a superstructure though which they can produce understanding. Architecture and designed space, understood as both the physical conditions of built space and the immaterial virtual spaces of the internet, house and support these elaborate amalgamations tethering them to learned activity trajectories, whether they are in the form of walking or driving or surfing the web.

There is an ecological logic to the forms of immanent distributions that are produced. (25) Branded environments are one such example where through corporate agreements Nike Shoes, Post Grape Nuts, Hertz Rent Car, Airberlin, and Sony Music appear together in the commercial landscape of billboards and airline magazines. The Institutional Understanding and sovereignty for which it does its bidding is empowered by this network of cultural signifiers. What Paul Virilio had formerly referred to in the representational and extensive era as Phatic Signifiers today become Fields of Phatic Signifiers embedded in the intensive logics of emerging meaning produced by the new apparatus of global culture.


Each brand is made up of its brand equity and its externalities that together compete with other assemblages for the attention of the market place. (26) Brand equity is explicit; it is a real entity that can be quantified based on market studies, while externalities are implicit and in the process of becoming. They are ineffable and incalculable.

Externalities can under certain conditions become explicit. Vans shoes were originally just tennis shoes to be worn all day. Their appropriation by skate boarders and their resultant popularity could never have been imagined. It was a result of a burgeoning skate culture in Southern California that added to its explicit brand equity when later they were understood and advertised as skating shoes.

They are overlaid or superimposed or embedded in already existing networks of cultural signifiers and as such inflect upon diagrams of attentional flow. They form selective pressures, which are coupled to analogous selective pressures in the brain/mind. The conditions of cultural intensivity integrate dynamic flows of hierarchical distributions together with folded rhizomatic distributions of sensibility that these branded environments are instrumental in producing.

Already existing oscillatory potentials, important for the production of the dynamic environment of the brain, transmitting information throughout it, are piggy backed by dynamic gestalts and rhythms at play in the cultural environment and onto which branded equities are imbricated. It is these dynamic potentialities as they are phase locked in ensembles synchronously and diachronously that create intense branded networks. These stimulate networks in the brain/mind that first pay attention to them and then memorize them as a result of registering them preferentially, in the end having affects on the overall architecture of the brain/mind. In the competition for neural space during critical periods of development, neural networks selected for by these branded environments will out-compete those that are not selected for, which either wither away or are incorporated in other assemblages where they can continue to play a role and be stimulated.

Branded networks work directly and indirectly on the child’s mind, which is especially malleable. Directly through sophisticated marketing techniques in which advertisements specifically engineered with the child’s mind in mind are transmitted cross-culturally during Saturday morning cartoons. These specially designed advertisements are analogous to “babyese,” in which parents prolong and exaggerate certain key phonetic distinctions coupled to the child’s immature brain. The same is true of childhood advertisement. Bright colors, fantastic talking cartoon animals, speaking in “babyese,” which the child already knows from Saturday morning cartoon programs, create an indistinguishable set of signifiers in a child who is as yet unable to distinguish himself/herself from others. This is where the Society of Control really begins in the inside/outside of the child’s mind.

But there is another way that the conditions of capitalism are transmitted to the child and that is indirectly through the parents. As I mentioned in the introduction Neuropower is focused on the planning and attention capacities of the frontal lobe. Adults assist children in the routines of their daily life that are beyond the capabilities of their immature brain. At first through such activities as pointing adults are indispensible in the early process of object learning and then symbolic language formation. Later when these activities involve planned action, for instance, parents extend their children’s abilities by acting as and being agents of their frontal lobe. (27) They are there to help them plan beyond the hear and now. This coupling of adult and child is a necessary condition of the early neural sculpting of Neuropower. The parent is at the service of the institutional understanding, acting as its agent of neuromodulation. But perhaps in the future with more sophisticated computer interfaces and software agents the parent won t even be necessary as the following quote from Andy Clarks Mindware might suggest. “Imagine that you begin using the web at age 4. Dedicated software agents track and adapt to your emerging interests and random explorations. They then help direct your attention to new ideas, web pages and products. Over the next 70 years you and your software agents are locked in a complex dance of coevolutionary change and learning, each influencing and being influenced by, the other. In such a case, in a very real sense, the software entities look less like part of your problem-solving environment then part of you. The intelligent system that now confronts the wider world is biological-you-plus-the-software-agents. These external bundles of code are contributing rather like the various subpersonal cognitive functions active in your brain.” (28)

Bibliography and Notes.

1. Multilevel Selection and Language Evolution, Terrence Deacon in Bruce H. Weber and David J. Depew, eds., Evolution and Learning: The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003)

2. Edwin Hutchins, Distributed Cognition, IEBS Distributed Cognition, page 5

3. Marcus Jacobson, Developmental Neurobiology, (New York: Plenum Press, 1991) page 26.

4. Alva Noe, Action in Perception, Bradford Book, MIT Press, 2004, page,1.

“ I argue that all perception is touch-touch like in this way: Perceptual experience acquires content thanks to our possession of bodily skills. What we perceive is determined by what we do…”

5. A.R. Luria, Cognitive Development: Its Cultural and Social Foundations, Harvard University Press, 1976

“It seems surprising that the science of psychology has avoided the idea that many mental processes are social and historical in origin, or that important manifestations of human consciousness have been directly shaped by the basic practices of human activity and the actual forms of culture.”

6. 692) quoted in Gerald Raunig, A Few Fragments on Machines,

7. Ibid., Raunig, 2005, page 3.

8. Maurizio Lazzarato, “Life and the Living in the Societies of Control,” in Martin Fuglsang and Bent Meier Sorensen, eds., Deleuze and the Social, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006) page 186.

9. Gerald Edelman, The Remembered Present, (New York: Basic Books Inc., 1989) 10. Jean-Pierre Changeux and Stanilslas Dehaene, “Neuronal Models of Cognitive Functions,” in Mark H. Johnson, ed., Brain Development and Cognition, (New York: Blackwell, 1993) pages 363-403.

11. Steven R. Quartz and Terrence J. Sejnowski, The Nerual Basisi of Cognitive Development: A Constructivist Manifesto, Brain Sciences 20(4) , 1997, page 6.

12. Ibid. Quartz and All, 1997, page 6.

13. Ibid. Quartz and All, 1997, page 6.

14. Creative Evolution, Henri Bergson, Dover, 1998, page 102.

“ Just so as regards the evolution of life and the circumstances through which it passes-with this difference, that evolution does not mark out a solitary route, that it takes directions without aiming at ends and that it remains inventive even in its adaptations.”

15. Ibid, Bergson, Dover, page 104.

“Evolution is not only a movement forward; in many cases we observe a marking-time, and still more often a deviation or turning back. It must be so, as we shall show further on , and the same causes that divide the evolution movement often cause life to be diverted from itself, hypnotized by the form it has just brought forth. Thence results an increasing diorder. No doubt there is progress, if progress means a continual advance in the general direction determined by a first impulsion; but this progress is accomplished only on the two or three great lines of evolution on which forms ever more and more complex, ever more and more high, appear; between these lines run a crowd of minor paths in which, on the contrary, deviations, arrests, and set-backs, are multiplied.”

16. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, Francisco J. Varelan, Evan T. Thompson, MIT Press, 1991.

One must also remember the contribution of Francisco Varela’s ideas of Enactive Embodied Cognition based as it is on affordances, diversity and natural drift, which could well help us make the intuitive leap to better understand the means through which the mutating conditions of culture at the margins can become the center.

17. Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind, Oxford, 2008, pg. 77

18. Ibid, Quartz and Sejnowski, 1997, pg. 36 The evidence we have examined demonstrates that the popular view of development as largely a regressive event must be reconsidered. We suggest that regressive events are simply the consequence of reduced neural specificity, as indicated by the counterevidence to Sperry's chemoaffinity hypothesis. Any theory, whether selectionist or constructivist, that rejects a strong view of neural specificity will thus need to posit regressive events. If cells do not bear nearly unique molecular addresses, then stochastic sampling mechanisms must be posited. These will by their very nature introduce some structure into a system that will later be eliminated. Neural constructivism allows these sampling mechanisms to be directed, but they are still stochastic. Structural elimination, or error-correction, are likewise required, but this does not mean that error-correcting processes are the only developmental mechanisms, or that developmental selection occurs only among intrinsically generated structures. Rather, selection is only one kind of process in a dynamic interaction between environmentally derived activity and the neural growth mechanisms that activity regulates.)

19. R.J. Scholes et al., “Toward a Global Biodiversity Observing System,” Science, Volume 321, page 1044.

20. Paolo Virno, The Grammar of the Multitude, page 70. In this idea of Neuropower the virtuoso performance does leave a materialist residue. Rather then a formed product it leaves memory traces which have the potential to mutate the conditions of the neurobiologic architecture.


Hebbian theory concerns how neurons might connect themselves to become engrams. Hebb's theories on the form and function of cell assemblies can be understood from the following:

"The general idea is an old one, that any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other."

"When one cell repeatedly assists in firing another, the axon of the first cell develops synaptic knobs (or enlarges them if they already exist) in contact with the soma of the second cell."

Gordon Allport posits additional ideas regarding cell assembly theory and its role in forming engrams, along the lines of the concept of auto-association, described as follows:

"If the inputs to a system cause the same pattern of activity to occur repeatedly, the set of active elements constituting that pattern will become increasingly strongly interassociated. That is, each element will tend to turn on every other element and (with negative weights) to turn off the elements that do not form part of the pattern. To put it another way, the pattern as a whole will become 'auto-associated'. We may call a learned (auto-associated) pattern an engram."

22. Wolf Singer, “Coherence as an Organizing Principle of Cortical Functions,” in Olaf Sporns and Giulio Tononi, eds., Selectionism and the Brain, (San Diego: Academic Press,1994) page 158. “The probability that neurons synchronize their responses both within a particular area and across areas should reflect some of the Gestalt criteria used for perceptual grouping… Individual cells must be able to change rapidly the partners with which they synchronize their responses if stimulus configurations change and require new associations…If more then one object is present in a scene, several distinct assemblies should form. Cells belonging to the same assembly should exhibit synchronous response episodes whereas no consistent temporal relations should exist between the discharges of neurons belonging to different assemblies.”

23. Ibid, Quartz and Sejnoazki, 1997, page 17

24. Ibid, Quartz and Sejnoazki, 1997, abstract

25. Giulio Tononi, “Reentry and Cortical Integration,” in Olaf Sporns and Giulo Tononi, eds., Selectionsim in the Brain, (San Diego: Academic Press 1994) page 129. “Two of the main tenets of this theory are that neurons act together in local collectives called neuronal groups and that they communicate with each other and correlate their activity by a process called reentry.”

26. I was first introduced to the idea of externalities and their relationship to Cognitive Capitalism in a lecture by Yann Moulier Boutang given at the conference I helped organize with Deborah Hauptmann called “The Mind in Architecture” at TU Delft School of Architecture in 2008. A related text will be published in Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noo-power, 010 Press, 2010.

27. Bruce Wexler, Brain and Culture, page 108-9. “Given the prolonged postnatal physical maturation of these structures in human beings, lasting until or beyond puberty, it is not surprising that adults must provide these functions if they are to be present in the behavior of infants and children. Essentially, then, the frontal lobes of parents are functionally linked with the lower brain centers and the sensory, motor and association cortices of their infants and children. While the child’s frontal lobes are developing, the parents’ brains provide frontal lobe functions for the child.”

28. Andy Clark, Mindware, Oxford, 2001, pg. 115

Resistance is Futile/Resistance is Fertile 2020

Resistance is Futile/Resistance is Fertile 2020

What are the conditions for radical and/or revolutionary thought and praxis in the 2010s?
What do you fear from the coming decade?

Resistance is Futile/Resistance is Fertile 2020

Is Resistance Futile? In this moment of Neo Liberal Global Capitalism powerful corporate consortiums and NGOs constitute the instrumental logic of what is referred to these days as Cognitive Capitalism. I would like to expand the definition of Cognitive Capitalism beyond its capacity as the accumulation of assets related to the information economy as it pertains to intellectual rights, the production of soft and hardware for computer programs and surfing the net and its privatization and therefore its restriction of the intellectual commons. I would also like it to include all forms of enterprise that profit from the conditions of thought and its administration and would suggest that it is the future territory that capitalism will attempt to conquer or should I say colonize. Drug companies produce and will continue to make new and ever more powerful mind altering drugs some of which affect attention (Adderall) and memory (Phenserine). Co-opted post-production companies continue to create more and more powerful phatic images, as Paul Virilio has described them, with adobe photoshop and aftereffects that compete with each other for subjective attention and in total constitute fields of meta-attention on billboards, TV screens, computer and Video Walls that adorn designed space that most of us experience in the places we now live. Computer games and virtual simulation environments have proved effective in learning the real world skills used on the battlefield (See Military Simulation and Serious Games by Roger D. Smith, Model Benders Press, 2009.) More recently Neuro-imaging techniques have become an essential new form of marketing called Neuro Marketing and will continue to be so, where the patterns of neural excitation become registers for desire driven commodified decision-making processes used by product designers/makers and advertising firms alike. (Editorial, “A Manifesto for Neuromarketing Science,” Journal of Consumer Behavior, Volume, 7, Issue, 4-5, pages 263-271.) Finally through such official proclamations such as the Bologna Declaration, the university system itself more then ever is under siege as it is now administered to create curriculums that refine what knowledge can be taught and to what end. Together these form the new conditions of instrumental logic in the age of information. When furthermore this information is sculpted to concur with preexisting and learned conditions of brain and mind, for instance the way that synchronized dynamic functional connectivity elicits attention and as a result memory I refer to it as Cognitive Ergonomics. (Wolf Singer, Binding by Synchrony, 2007, Scholarpedia)

Cognitive Ergonomics is an insidious apparatus of Cognitive Capitalism and has global effect. (Here I mean both in the sense of Global Networks in the brain and Global Networks of the Empire.) Recently Neuroscience has been exploring the very decision making processes used in future determinations by focusing its attention of the workings of the frontal lobe. This has created a switch from its past interest in what was called bottom-up processing to what is known as top-down processing. Instead of organizing how sensations are organized into larger more abstract bundles and concepts the focus today is rather on abstract thinking itself that indirectly affects how sensations emanating from the world are routed in the circuits of the brain. (Engel, A.K. et al., “Dynamic Predictions: Oscillations and Synchrony in Top-Down Processing,” in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, October, 2001, page 704.) This as we will see is a condition of Neuropower to be explained a little later. Cognitive Ergonomics is now the conditions of advanced information societies in which the information produced is designed to silently and invisibly co-opt the energy distributions of the brain to affect thought itself. Neo-liberal Cognitive Capitalism directs its energies towards the production of information that in the end is cognitively ergonomic and thus with increasing effectiveness enters the hierarchical and non-hierarchical conditions of mindedness more efficiently. As such it creates the new conditions of the distribution of sensibility or should we call it the distribution of insensibility because the information networks themselves are sublime. No new laws need to be passed and less and less government is needed as the machinic intelligence of this constituted general intelligence does it all. Resistance is Futile as the Borg said.

But maybe Resistance is Fertile! Sure Artists and Art professionals are at times instrumentalized themselves by the power of neoliberal global capitalism and who is to blame them. In fact the system pushes artists to brand themselves in order to be constituted not as a human being but instead a calculated auratic impulse weightlessly distributed according the non-linear logics of the media networks. The fame machine reinvented and elaborated by Warhol, the global stardom of the art fair insinuated as one is in the international gossip networks of famous collectors in the VIP lounges of the Basel Art Fair, the chance to appear on the cover of global art and fashion magazines such as Artforum and Vanity Fair are incredibly intoxicating. As such the financial rewards can be great for a select few. Cognitive ergonomics and cognitive capitalism, as I am introducing the concept here, makes no distinctions between artist and non-artist. But the power of art in its most utopian sense is a powerful agent of change when understood and embraced by artists and the community that they constitute.

How might this be? We are all born with a pluripotential brain constituted as it is by a widely varying population of nervous elements, called neurons which is constituted by its axons, dendritic spines and synapses. These neurons and the connections they form differ from each other in the amount and type of energy as information that they can absorb and elaborate. The degree to which this energy effects neural efficiency at the synaptic junction will effect the sustainability of that connection or the network it constitutes and affects the degree to which for instance the dendritic spine(s), can survive, propagate and form alliances. The neuron with its axons and dendrites is a form of matter of the brain and that matter is transformed in different ways by, for instance, different spatial and temporal frameworks some of which culture plays a role in producing. (Quartz, S. & Sejnowski, T.J. (1997). The neural basis of cognitive development: A constructivist manifesto. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (4): 537-596.)

Different cultural dispositions organize, for instance, the visual cultural field in such a way that different neurons and assemblages of neurons are differentially called out- to which has implications within limits for what forms of neural architectures can be produced. This is what since 1997 I have called the "Cultured Brain Model". The variation of the population of neurons, the degree to which they can be modified by either internal or external inputs and their resultant pattern of connectivity is referred to as its neural plasticity. It is towards this neural plasticity that the energies of sovereignty are directed. The sculpting of this neural plasticity or neural potential is the aim of the administration of the subject in the quest to form an obedient people. I call this "Neuropower" and understand this to be a recent manifestation of biopower coming as it does on the heals of such ideas such as the disciplinary society (Foucault), the society of control (Deleuze) and Noo-politics (Lazzarato). Extending them beyond their focus upon the administration of man in the present to that of the production of the future man or woman. It is also towards and upon that variation that cultural capital, here I mean in the sense of Bordieu, as a cultural/environmental modifier produces subjects whose Eye has been educated in very special other ways. Ways that if nurtured allow them to look at and make things that defy that which is constituted by the instrumental logic.

What effect might this have? Artists using their own histories, apparatus, processes, materials, logics produce works of art and non-art that populate the visual auditory and kinesthetic landscape and thereby mutate the conditions of the distribution of the sensible producing what I have referred to before as the Redistribution of the Sensible. This constitutes the flip side of Neuropower as artists create images static and dynamic that compete effectively for the minds attention and therefore have power to produce a population of neural connections that along side those already elicited by the powers of instrumentalization constitute the image of thought. They are in fact part of the history of the production of the subject. The ratiomatic relationship between the amount of cultural and cognitive capital affective at any particular moment and their concomitant power to produce a variety of epigenetically contrived neural architectures is the essence of the history of the thought image. What a difference it is to walk through a gridded city constituted as it does by a mathematical and preformed logic then that based on the conditions of a city built and designed according to the illogic’s of Situationism with its dérive, chance encounters and network of psycho-geography. What effect does living in such a city have on the growing child whose brain and mind are open and responsive during what are referred to as critical periods for learning? Do different forms of neural architecture emerge as a response to this wide variety of conditions that have the potential for different thoughts,that respond to different networks of attention and different immanent gestalts that move like the wind through distributions of sensibility. As such does this artist’s brain have the potential to create sublime objects, corrupted and abnormal forms of movement, unthinkable thoughts that are beyond the general intelligence of the police to monitor. That, like the scandal of Marcel Duchamp’s work of 1917, a urinal signed R. Mutt or the apathy experienced in the context of the first presentation of The Barcelona Pavillion, 1929, of Mies Van der Rohe, remain beyond the radar of the self-policing conditions of, in these cases, Modernism until the seismic shifts they created that originally presented themselves as rumbles became earthquakes in the realm of the sensible and produced mutations in the distribution of time and space. Earthquakes that I might add create what Carl Schmitt would describe as "States of Emergency". For the new State of Emergency in the eyes of the sovereignty are constituted by changes in the state of the normalizing distribution of sensibility and the apparatuses that tether that distribution together in order to produce a people who share a common Neuro-architectonics constituted by the experience of a controlled homogeneous world picture/cinema. The state of emergency concerns the future generation whose pluripotential brain with all its variability might be sculpted by very different conditions of the distribution brought about through the magic of the sublime object(s), idea(s), movement(s) produced by those who have cultural capital. This is the power of art! Because it is this State of Emergency that in fact elicits the State of Exception when government itself goes into a seizure that suspends itself. The history of art and political change can, therefore can be seen as a generational and epochal production of a succession of states of emergency and the response to them.


by: Warren Neidich
Published in: Atlántica Magazine of Art and Thought #48-49, 2009
Neuropower in Atlantica

Some Cursory Comments on the Nature of my Diagrammatic Drawing

fig. 1

The diagram is indeed a chaos a catastrophe but it is also a germ of order or rhythm. It is a violent chaos in relation to the figurative givens, but it is a germ of rhythm in relation to the new order of the painting. As Bacon says, it “unlocks areas of sensation.
Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, Gilles Deleuze

The diagram or abstract machine is the map of relations between forces, a map of destiny, or intensity, which proceeds by primary non-localizable relation and at every moment passes through every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another.
Foucault, Gilles Deleuze

I approach the Earthling Drawing that is tacked to my wall. It is at some distance now and what I see is a multicolored abstract drawing that covers the paper with lines, marks and points distributed unevenly. Several, separate areas are demarcated like small continents. These parts, of which there are four, have developed over the past 8 years. They have been drawn, overdrawn, redrawn, extended and edited. As such, the drawing is an impermanent condition of a still evolving process! The first part is called The Cultured Brain Drawing and fills the space in the middle right hand section. It looks like an amoeba with pseudo pods. The second part is called The Global Generator and it is funnel shaped and situated at the bottom. The third section is called The Becoming Brain Drawing and is found on the far left. Finally, The Earthling Drawing is found in the upper right hand corner and was the most recent addition.

fig. 2

As I continue my approach I realize that there are words that adorn its’ arabesque forms. I first point and then deliver my finger quite randomly to a location towards the center left center. This initial touch begins a drifting process in which my finger tip is a compass navigating a route or root to other locations and places as a tracing. My finger for instance my finger alights first in The Cultured Brain Drawing on Culture 1 (Extensive Culture). It then moves up along a tracing connecting it to Culture 2 (Intensive Culture). The arrow is bidirectional and connotes that each is symbiotic and contained in the other as nested symbolic gestures (see figure 2).

Intensive Culture (Culture 2) is the product of an ontologic process that emanates from Culture 1 (Extensive Culture) and is defined by a multiplicitous, non-linear, rhizomatic processes, immaterial labor as a virtuoso performance and the conditions of the social brain. It has supplanted its predecessor Culture 1 (Extensive,Culture) defined here as a set of conditions which has been formed according to a different set of coordinates and logics. Ones, which are equally divisible, linear, narrative in which labor concerns the production of a real objects tethered to the actions of the physical body. Each is situated in a diffuse milieu of The Cultured Brain Drawing signified by random colored dots made with the end of a blunt magic markers, which are diffusely distributed throughout. Closer inspection unveils a series of flowing multicolored lines swooping in from the bottom left where after entering the inside of the drawing they seem to fragment.

fig. 3

By a reverse tracing, the finger follows the multiple multi-colored curved lines back down towards an upside-down, cone-shaped funnel situated below. I refer to this part of the drawing as The Global Generator. The cone is divided into two parts. The top is the generative source of the colored lines and upon close inspection one can see that they are labeled according to the immaterial relations such as the social, political, historical, economic, psychological and unknown that they designate. Each, in itself, is in constant flux and is caused by the incessant shifting of internal differences which form its structure constituted by, for instance, the logic of the symbolic conditions that give it meaning. Moving the eye along each sinewy strand -in fact the eye has learned to follow the finger- one begins to notice lightly traced eddies and whirlpools that represent feedback and feed-forward circuits that link all the relations together and which through a series of tight junctions, open conduits which allow for the exchange of internalized elements, allowing information to diffuse from one relation to the other, producing differences that need to be adjusted to.

fig. 4

Forming the substructure of the funnel are a series of labels like, Ethnocape and Mediascape that refer to the mutating conditions of culture in the global setting adopted from the work of Arjun Appadurai Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. They form the foundation of the cultural shifts from Culture 1 to Culture 2.
I resume my drift and now move my finger again upward and rejoin the The Cultured Brain Drawing. My finger tip, like a vagabond circulates throughout the terrain of the inside, finding shelter under its nested regularities labeled Plastic Arts, Architecture, Technology and The Film Arts. Like the Visual Culture they together help to produce each other, in a condition of flux as they respond to the same immaterial conditions. Each attempts, as best it can, using its own histories, performances, apparatti, techniques and materials to make its own image. An image that is a present and past tense simultaneously. An image of the past, which is reflected in the history of all its past images, as each travels along its own journey of time. How design of jewelry and religious artifacts used in burial rights has changed since the time of the Cro Magna! In the present tense, each is the consummated activity of the immaterial relations that it embodies and that, like a mirror, reflects back to be cogitated by the subject as observer who, witnessing the differences in that ontology, understands the differences inherent also in himself and herself. But, as an assemblage as constitutive elements in the much larger apparatus of visual culture, these separate aesthetic-producing activities together, constitute a non-linear, emerging superstructure that is more than the sum of its parts. This superstructure digresses away from an equilibrium condition; entropy plays havoc on its component parts as well as on itself, it releases latent potentialities, add that defines each epoch. Thus, who have ever imagined that Surrealism would emerge from the Bowels of Impressionism and that the New Figuration of, say, John Currin or Elizabeth Peyton in the early 1990s would have developed from a culture obsessed with conceptualism and abstraction. And, today, the mutating social political historical economic and psychological conditions of, for instance, Post-Fordist Labor in the Age of the Multitude and the Empire constitute art works, built spaces and buildings, films that respond to those mutating conditions producing the works of artists like Liam Gillick or Carey Young and architects like RUR and Zaha Hadid.

fig. 5

My finger, like a mouse on a computer screen, engages the drawing again now in a random walk through this information map and alights again on Culture 2 and then moves through a portal, into an area called The Secondary Repertoire just above and to its left. The Secondary Repertoire is a condition of the nervous system which results from its reaction to the environment, of which culture plays an important role. As a result of the conditions of intrauterine development and the genetic contribution of your mother and father, the brain, at birth, is made up of elements that are ready to operate in any environment that the baby might find itself. These, you might say, are pre-determined, like the sucking reflex and the beginnings of sight. I might say, however, that this Determined Brain is very underdeveloped compared to, for instance, a baby horse, that at birth can already walk. Nonetheless, there is also a Becoming Brain, one that has a potential to be modified. A brain in which large areas have not yet been organized and that are ready to meet the specific demands, within reason, that it is born into. According to neuroscientist Gerald Edelman, in his book, co-authored with Giulio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness, the brain is made up of a large population of variable nervous elements some of which can become selected by the conditions of the world that it finds itself in. Neurons -the basic building blocks of the nervous system and neural networks- that are selected, operate more efficiently than those not selected for and, accordingly, will out-compete others for the confined and limited space of the brain. The process of, for instance, neural selectionism, combined with the brain's inherent potential for change, called Neural Plasticity, allows for a sculpting of the brain. Each culture provides a metaphor for that sculpting, whether it is the Figurations of Rodin, the Scatter Art of Barry Le Vay or the cacophonous meanderings of Jason Rhodes that call out to the brain in different ways, intensifying different networks and currents and diminishing others. D.O. Hebbs in his famous book of 1949, The Organization of Behavior, states that "neurons that fire together wire together.” in this context, this adage becomes "Network conditions in the Real-Imaginary-Virtual Interface sculpt Network Conditions in the Brain." These new forms of interconnection reflect the cultural conditions and the immaterial relations, as we already saw, produce it. The mutating conditions of the assemblage of Networks as they are produced by the mutating conditions of culture create new dynamic pathways for thought and the imagination. In fact, each culture produces what Deleuze called 'noo-ology,' the history of the Thought Image through its inflection in the intergenerational conditions of the selected brain and the psychological and philosophical thoughts that emerge.

As we have mentioned already, Culture 2 directly contacts the Secondary Repertoire through a portal cut in the flesh of the diffuse milieu of Cultured Brain Drawings Microscopy. It is connected to the Primary Repertoire from which it emerges. The pleuripotential Primary Repertoire is the brain at birth or shortly before. It is the end point of Develpmental Selection, which we mentioned above, and produces the variable population of neurons that Culture 2 can now act upon. It is a node that indirectly connects the other parts of the drawing; to its upper right the Earthling Drawing and to the left the Becoming Brain. The Earthling Drawing delineate the conditions of the unconscious and the pre-individual, where the new logics of global Capitalism, according to Antonio Negri and Maritzio Lazzarato, are now focused. In the transformation of labour to its current Post-Fordist condition, noo-politics, namely the ensemble of techniques of control exercised on the brain and aimed at memory and attention is the order of the day. Through the 'distribution of sensible', the partage du sensible as Jacques Ranciere has defined it in The Politics of Aesthetics, sovereignty creates a series of laws and dispositions that establishes the modes of perception, that is, the set of perceptual horizons, a system of self-evident facts of perception that delineate what can be heard, said, made and done. Those distributions are very different in an Intensive Culture and in an Extensive Cuture. The order and sequencing of those stimuli, especially as they are generated in built space, have implications for the history of the thought image and the becoming brain. In the present Intensive Global Culture, the expanded role of capital in the generation of the general intellect consortiums of media giants, cognitive neuroscientific research assemblages, the military, advertising firms, polling interests consciously or unconsciously have littered Cultural Visual/Haptic Landscape with very sensational stimuli. Paul Virilio has labeled these processed and engineered stimuli Phatic Stimuli to draw attention to their conditions of Emphasis and Empathy, which are produced to call out to the brain and mind of the multitude. Branding would be an example of such a Phatic Stimuli, especially as they circulate in the real abstract conditions of billions of televisions and computer desktop terminals. In the expanded condition of thousands of these phatic stimuli operating together in immanent assemblages forming intensive networks of phaticity, a simulated ecology of meaning becomes possible. This intensive environment is now what calls out to the brain and preferentially selects neurons and neural nets according to its logic. This is one condition of the Earthling as a new Global Subject in the production of the people of the planet Earth. But there is another story.

In their most Utopian sense artist, architects, designers, writers and cinematographers, just to name a few, utilize there own methods, apparati, histories, spaces, performances to produce another distribution of the sensible, a Redistribution of the Sensible, that competes with that of the aforementioned Institutional Conditions for the attentions and memories of the multitude. This is the real story of the Earthling Drawing. Art as a form of resistance in which the form(s) of the Distributed Sensibility is the conceptual palate through which new forms of imagination with their potential for difference are transfigured.

fig. 6

The diffuse logic of my now unconscious finger searching for the intense psycho-geographic spaces finds itself, through diagonal and lingering gestures, in the cyclic looped Earthling Drawing. Here is where the dynamis of subjectivity is produced; where the pre-individuals of the singularities reside. Embedded in a spinning vortex of energy relations are a history of forms of that resistance to institutional norms, which constitute the homogeneity of the people. Practices like The Paranoid Critical Method of Salvador Dali, the channeling and theater of cruelty of Antonin Artaud, the Ready-made of Duchamp, the Derive of Gilles Debord, the collage of John Heartfield, the automatic writing of Andre Breton which produce new objects, object relations, space, reactions and virtuoso performances. To these practices could be added the Race, Gender and Class-Based practices that have become critically important in the past forty years. Here, the work of Mary Kelly, Andrea Fraser, Felix Gonzales Torres, Fred Wilson and Valie Export come to mind. These new conditions of the distribution of sensibility, now populated by these other objects emanating from quite different conditions, cause perturbations in the Institutional Diagram and produce adjustment of the minds eye as it scans the visual, auditory and haptic landscape in its daily routines. Through the same process of Neural Selectionism and its affect on the primary repertoire new connections are built; an other Cultured Brain. As such, attention and memory, the building blocks of the conscious and unconscious, are undeniably affected as well. As the world of imagination and fantasy creates the internally mediated stimulation of those and other circuits, neural sculpting and the mind will, though various feed-forward and feedback looping, be affected. Sovereignty in the age of controlling the mind at a distance is hip to the contingencies of the possibility of culture as its competitor. The new war on culture and the differences it produces is taking many forms. From the reduction of funding, to the extended power of the market place, to the new interest in the funding of the what are referred to as the cultured industries, Sovereignty is doing all it can to usurp the power of the artist.

fig. 7

The Neurobiopolitics of Global Consciousness

Neuroscientists say that by peering inside your head they can tell whether you identify more strongly with J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, say, than with J.R.R. Tolkien's Frodo. A beverage company can choose one new juice or soda over another based on which flavour trips the brainís reward circuitry. Itís conceivable that movies and TV programmes will be vetted before their release by brain-imaging companies.1

In their well known study Empire (2000), social theorists Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt elucidate what philosopher Michel Foucault had already made explicit in the last chapter of his The Will To Knowledge (1976): they once again reiterate and delineate, in Section 1:2 of their text, the different and evolutionary consequences of the disciplinary society and the society of control (to use Foucauldian parlance). On the one hand, the disciplinary society is constructed through a dissemination of social command by diffuse networks of ìmachinic assemblages, to borrow a term from the cultural theorist Gilles Deleuze, that regulate each subject's customs, habits and productive practice.2 Extensive culture (characterised by stable Euclidean geometries, the assembly line, arboreal classification systems such as the taxonomic classification systems of Carl Linnaeus) operates upon the subject from the outside, specifically restricting his or her movements and choices along pre-set paths. Disciplinarity fixed individuals within institutions but did not succeed in consuming them completely in the rhythm of productive practices and productive socialisation: it did not reach the point of permeating entirely the consciousness and bodies of individuals3. On the other hand, the society of control operates within the domain of intensive cultural apparati characterised by the Riemannian spaces, rhizomatic logics and folded temporality induced by the multiplicity of flows that characterise our global world post-internet.4

According to Negri and Hardt, this transition from a disciplinary society to the society of control involves the emergence of what they refer to as 'biopower', which regulates social life from within. By contrast, when power becomes entirely biopolitical, the whole social body is comprised by power's machinery and developed in its virtuality. This relationship is open, qualitative, and affective. Society, subsumed within a power that reaches down to the ganglia of the social structure and its processes of development, reacts like a single body. Power is thus expressed as a control that extends throughout the depths of the consciousness and bodies of the population and at the same time across the entirety of social relationsî5.

Since 1987, the field of neuroscience has seen the emergence of Neural Darwinism and Neural Constructivism, powerful new theoretic tools that have profound implications for how biopolitical systems might instantiate themselves in the neurobiological substrate of the individuals that comprise the social body. Utilising these concepts, I would like to explore the possible mechanism and sites through which we might understand the new potential for biopower, which I am now referring to as the neurobiopolitical: the ability to sculpt the physical matter of the brain, and its abstract counterpart, the mind. I will also show how this process ultimately has very significant implications for imagination and creativity.6

Neural Selectionism / Neural Constructivism

Recent research in neuroscience, most notably the pioneering work of neuroscientist Jean Pierre Changeux at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and the later assemblage and expansion of this work by biologist and Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman in San Diego into what is now referred to as 'Neural Darwinism' or 'Neural Selectionism', has provided new tools with which to understand the important role played by culture in the configuration of the architecture of the central nervous system. This theory, or as it is sometimes called, the 'Theory of Neuronal Group Selection', has three main tenets: developmental selection, experiential selection and reentry. Developmental selection describes the ontogeny of the embryo as an interaction between its genotype and the circumstances of its prenatal environment. Events occurring at the microscopic level, such as cell division, migration, differentiation and plastic modification, create what Edelman refers to as the primary repertoire. This term describes a dense and variable population of neurons with complex branching patterns that create extensive neural connections.7

Experiential selection is defined as the period just prior to birth and continuing throughout life, in which the diverse and variable population of the primary repertoire is pruned and sculpted by the environmental context to which the human being needs to adapt. Most changes, however, take place in the early years and are linked to what is referred to as ëneural plasticityí ñ the ability of neurons and their synapses and dendrites to adapt and change as a result of experience. Most importantly, according to Edelman, Experiential selection does not, like natural selection in evolution, occur as a result of differential reproduction, but rather as a result of differential amplification of certain synaptic populations8. Further, those neurons, neural networks or assemblages of neurons, and their dendritic and synaptic components that are most often and intensely stimulated, will acquire more efficient means of information transmission, thus enabling them to outmanouevre those neurons and neural networks that donít. In other words, as a result of being repeatedly excited by recurrent and repetitive external stimuli, these neurons develop firing patterns that have increased efficiency and specific tuning, and as a result are therefore likely to be favoured over other neurons and networks in future encounters with this stimulus.9

However, neurons and neuronal networks do not fire in isolation; they are part of large complexes that are together called out by complex stimuli. They could be part of abstract assemblages of stimulation, such as a billboard one might find in Times Square in New York or Piccadilly Circus in London, with its flashing lights, smoke rings, video screen, text messages and speaking voice telling you to smoke Camel cigarettes As eminent cognitive psychobiologist D.O. Hebb has so astutely stated, 'Neurons that fire together wire together'. They form greater firing efficiencies collectively, and form other alliances with other networks similarly excited and predisposed.

Reentry, the third part of the neural selectionist triad, allows for the synchronisation of neural events occurring in circumscribed and widely disparate areas of the brain. It plays a role in binding together these networks, some of which are broadly distributed throughout the brain, through its dynamic influences. As a result of this cooperation, even a partial trace of the original stimulus, by exciting a small number of neurons in a section of the complex web of neurons, can excite all the neurons in the network. Sharing of inputs in this manner allows for the repetitive stimulation of the network, which results in greater efficiencies for all the individuals in the whole group. It also gives the network advantages, in the competition for neural space, over other neural groups not thus stimulated.

Those neurons and neuronal groups that are less stimulated either find other targets to connect with, or undergo a mode of cell death called apoptosis: the process by which neurons that fail to find their targets degenerate and then are phagocytised (eaten up or absorbed by other neurons). In simple nervous systems, apoptosis plays a major role in pruning the least-used synaptic connections being selectively destroyed, while the mostused are retained. However, in more complex systems like the cerebral cortex of humans, it plays a minor role. "[I]t appears that apoptosis is a more important factor in simple systems such as the spinal cord motor neurons, where about fifty percent of the neuronal population is wiped out than in more complex systems like the primate cerebral cortex where it occurs in less than twenty percent"10. In these systems, the abundance of potential sites for alternative connectivity in the cerebral cortex may alleviate the need for cell death.

So far, this is a story of pruning and subtraction. It only partly describes the data on brain development and evolution, which shows that the brain mass gets larger instead of smaller with age, and that different parts of the brain grow at different rates. Neural Constructivism sees development as a progression in representational complexity. It appears to involve both selective elimination as well as considerable growth and elaboration.11 Studies by Greenough and Chang12 and Coleman et al13 have found that the degree of correlation between the firing of groups of dendrites in the receiving part of a neuron, rather than simply the presence of activity, was essential for the production of dendritic complexity and growth. What this means is that the secondary repertoire the primary repertoire pruned by experience goes through a dynamic change in which those selected neurons undergo a further transformation. They continue to be stimulated by correlated activity, which may also correspond to correlated relationships in the realimaginary- virtual interface, with other neurons which are coding for similar stimulation complexes; and the connectivities thereby multiply and grow (here I am using the word 'virtual' to refer to virtual reality, not the virtual as described by Deleuze in relation to the actual, in his account of ontological parameters).

Neuralbiodiversity and Cultural Determinism

Culture is in a constant state of transformation as it responds to a changing milieu, determined by the cumulative effect of a multitude of immaterial relations that are each in a state of unrest. Each of these relations mutates within a rapidly evolving context of new possibilities for example, in relation to the speed of information transmission and develops new vocabularies and systems of meaning to accommodate those changes. Then, individually or together with the other changing relations also affected by these mutating conditions, they create new dynamic patterns of flows that impact culture. Sociological conditions, political intrigues and scandals, global economic depressions, conditions of psychological instability, historical reinvention, spiritual revivals all of these operate together to transform the context in which culture operates; and, in some cases, operate together upon culture itself. This flux creates new pressures on the system of culture, producing subsequent instabilities.

These instabilities are the result of noise produced by certain incompatibilities of coded information between the existing cultural system and the new flows of information it attempts to incorporate. To respond to this crisis of assimilation, culture creates new technologies. Here I would like to describe in detail one such technology, the optical; I confine myself to this in the interest of time and clarity, although similar changes are taking place in the auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile sensorial realms as well.

Optical technologies can be divided into two groups. First, projective creative optical technologies, examples of which are the camera obscura, camera lucida, photographic camera, stereo camera, cinema, virtual reality and, most recently, intelligent media. These devices help create the world as a projective interface to be inspected by the organic system of the eye and brain; as such, this eye-brain link produces the plastic mimetic configuration of the noumenal/phenomenal world. As is explained further in the essay, the eye-brain apparatus is a plastic and selected entity in a constant flux between being and becoming, a being and becoming that is co-evolving with the mutating conditions of the world. It is the relation between what I term intensive technologies (discussed later in this essay), and the cultures they attempt to redefine spatially and temporally: redefinitions that lead to new forms of linkages in the tectonic substrate of culture itself. I call these linkages 'cultural bindings'; and it is this binding of cultural artefacts, for instance, that leads to new networks of meaning within that culture. This cultural binding leads to intensely stimulating cultural networks that, as we will see, may sculpt neural networks preferentially (I use the word ìintenseî here to mean a very strong stimulus, as well as one which is non-linear, folded and rhizomatic in its spatial-temporal dimension. This latter quality is what makes such stimuli powerful agents of neural excitation). It is this fundamental relation between cultural and neural networks that defines what I am calling Cultural Determinism.

The evolution of projective optical technologies has for decades inspired artists, designers and architects, who were awed by the new kinds of images and processes that these machines made possible. In her description of 'La Fenêtre en Longueur', a drawing Le Corbusier made at his parents house on Lake Geneva, architectural historian and critic Beatriz Colomina states that the window glass is superimposed on a rhythmic grid that suggests a series of photographs placed next to each other in a row, or perhaps a series of stills from a movie14. This is an instance of photography and cinematography influencing the way the architect, in his desire to respond to these new optical possibilities afforded by cinematic time and space, reinvents the materials of his trade, glass and window, in a way that re-enacts and re-maps the experience of cinema onto the experience of architecture. We will see shortly the implications of this effect on other forms of visual culture, and their summated affect upon the nature of embodiment.

Invented in parallel with these projective technologies are introspective technologies. The word 'introspective' can have psychological meanings related to the investigation of the self, as in looking into oneself or knowing oneself; but in the context of this essay, I am referring to instruments that probe the body in order to understand its own changing anatomical and physiological conditions. Introspective technologies may in the future help us to see at the functional, dynamic, synaptic and neuronal-net level, on which the effect and residue of events in real/imaginary-virtual space over time can be appreciated. This kind of brain mapping is beyond our reach today. However, recent theories that attempt to make sense of the ways the brain works have begun to leave strict hierarchical descriptions in favour of ones that are non-hierarchical.15 For instance, neural complexity in relation to subjectivity is now being studied at the level of collectives of neural circuits that display patterns of emergence of large-scale integration.16

Of the many new devices invented that enable culture to visualise itself, only a few are really relevant; and these, as a result of their widespread use and dissemination, help define and optically describe that culture. Perspective was the best visual analogy with which to describe the sociological, psychological, economic, historical and spiritual conditions of the Renaissance; new media is the best way to depict those same conditions today.17 This is not to say that one excludes the other. In fact, the genealogy of optical instrumentation is a history of one technique subsuming the qualities of its predecessors, followed by a moment of unease in which structural rearrangement leads to a mutation in its form and operation, and then to the invention of a new device that can be adapted more adequately to the conditions at hand. We are reminded of communications theorist Marshall McLuhan's idea of 'remediation', in which the content of any medium is always another medium.18

I suggest here that an analogical process of remediation is occurring in the brain as well. The co-evolutionary phenomenon I have been alluding to is more than simply a
selection of neural tissues: it is an evolution of the processes through and by which they operate. Phylogenetic changes are slow changes, the result of genetic mutations: All the old control systems must remain in place, and the new ones with additional capacities are added on and integrated in such a way as to enhance survival. In biological evolution, genetic mutations produce new cortical areas that are like new control systems in the power plant; while the old areas continue to perform their basic functions necessary for the survival of the animal, just as the older control systems continue to sustain some of the basic functions of the power plant.19

Older systems of the brain form the basic foundations for the new capacities of the organ as it evolves.20 This has been discussed earlier in the essay with regard to the
primary repertoire, which is the end result of millions of years of evolution. Its variability is to a certain extent determined by all the changes recorded in the genotype, and slowly refined by natural selection.21 I refer to this variability as neuralbiodiversity. This condition, hospitable to and augmented by the mechanisms of neural plasticity, enables the rapid changes of experiential selection to take place, as well as those of epigenesis the development of an individual and/or the external environment as a result of interaction between an individualís genes, external environment and internal environment.

These rapid generational changes in context of genetic drift and Baldwinian evolution (which is based on the fact of phenotypic plasticity, the ability of an organism to adapt to its environment during its lifetime, and which emphasises the fact that the sustained behaviour of a species or group can shape the evolution of that species) can become incorporated into the genome. The anthropologist Terrence Deacon delineates this as the mechanism by which we acquired language, and for which a special area of the brain was developed.22 Deacon explores the means by which language evolved as a cultural entity. He sampled a population of humans with a variable innate capacity for the acquisition of language. As language produced real advantages, those whose brains were more receptive to the acquisition process in the end gained a selective sexual advantage, and through their descendants produced a population of what he now calls homo symbolicus. Similarly perhaps, new technology ñ through creating new types of images, sounds, feelings and hapticities with intensive spatial and temporal logics has produced different forms of cultural networks and binding. In the end, using a similar logic to that of Deacon, new forms of humanity could be produced. The new habits we now see in the children of the Egeneration, who appear to have multiple or split attentions, is one example of such affect.

In other words, each new generation has a living brain that has been wired and configured by its own existence within the mutating cultural landscapes in which it lives. These new conditions allow for new kinds of images, new thoughts, new ideas that are transmitted and embedded in cultural forms of representation. As such, the history of this transformed representation forms a kind of cultural memory or cultural heredity, which has its own rules and regulatory patterns of evolution, that are different but symbiotic with Darwinian evolutionary paradigms of selection, subtraction and deletion. It is a system of memory that evolves as the result of the Bergsonian mode of 'creative evolution', which is neither mechanical nor teleological, and does not represent evolution as conditioned by existing forces or by future aims; it is additive, and concerns the ways and means that the constantly transformed context provides a backdrop for the constant re-evaluation and reformulation of cultural ideas. These ideas are alive, but pulsate at different amplitudes and frequencies in the web of cultural meanings, depending on the ratiomatic and proportional distribution of immaterial relations that create that context.23

By ratiomatic, I imply that cultural meanings are virtual and in flux. I am here referring to 'virtual' in the Deleuzian sense of a repository of possible meanings that are made actual by, for instance, the relative opposition between transcendence and immanence, this difference enabling dualistic categories, Cartesian and otherwise, to be maintained. In the context of my argument, virtual implies the set of immaterial social, political, historical, psychological, economic and spiritual relations that create the human subject's overriding context at a particular moment. The inherent virtual meanings are the results of complexes of cultural binding that create nodes of varying intensities in the networks of relations. Some of these nodes are thick and strong, while others are weak and thin. Their overall distribution in the 'plane of immanence' is their ratiomatic identity, and it changes all the time. But subtle neural changes are continuously initiated by the variable conditions of this cultural milieu. Through its capacity to reorient and seek out alternative sites for connectivity, the brain thus sculpted is able to bind and suture itself to contextual peculiarity and difference. This cultured brain can also be properly termed the intensive brain.

In a system of network conditions that are pulsating and immanent, and therefore available only at certain times, what is present at any one moment will reflect the specific combinations of entities that are existent at the time of that reception. However, what is existent is dependent on a specific context in which these networks are embedded, and which is different for each network. Thus, each context creates a ratiomatic flow of immanent cultural meanings. This cultural memory then becomes the framework through which the cultured brain is produced. When each observer dies, those neurological changes that defined his or her experience and relationship to his specific generational moment within visual culture dies as well. Only in very unusual circumstances will these experiences find their way into the genome, as in the example of language. However, that generation's cultural effect is retained in traces within that cultural habitus, awaiting a new generation of brains on which to mould new kinds of neural relations, in the end creating new types of subjectivity. In other words, a kind of cultural somatic mnemotechny is disseminated in forms of literature, visual art, architecture and design. Separately and together, as these practices evolve they create new forms of cultural attention.

Cultural attention delineates the subset of cultural forms and relations that call out to the developing brain, through its use of images, forms of language or social contingencies that in the end are important in the processes of sculpting the brain. It too is evolving, and becoming ever more sophisticated as its forms of spatiality and temporality become linked to ever more sophisticated forms of media. These new forms are beginning to adapt and synchronise themselves to those operating at the level of neural networks. This process is called visual and cognitive ergonomics, and will be addressed later in this essay. At the moment, it is critical to re-emphasise that this development is the result of the coincident effect of the evolution of optical and haptic projective and introspective technologies.

Recently, as a result of digital technologies, there has been a transformation of the conditions of culture itself, which has implications for the history of cultural attention. I am referring to the shift from an extensive to an intensive culture. Its precursors could be first found in earlier non-narrative film practice, exemplified by Soviet director Dziga Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera (1929) and Italian director Luchino Viscontiís Obsession (1943). Film scholar Donato Totaro aptly sums it up: ìIn the time-image, which finds its archetype in the European modernist or art film, characters find themselves in situations where they are unable to act and react in a direct, immediate way, leading to what Deleuze calls a breakdown in the sensory-motor system. The image cut off from sensory-motor links becomes a pure optical and aural image, and one that comes into relation with a virtual image, a mental or mirror image24.

No longer tethered to the restrictions of the body and its narrative context of action and perception, the time-image is free to circulate according to other possible temporalities, some of recursive feedback on the body, producing new potentials and becomings. According to contemporary philosopher Manuel De Landa, the term extensive time may be applied to a flow of time already divided into instants of a given extension or duration, instants which may be counted using any device capable of performing regular sequences of oscillations. These cyclic sequences may be maintained mechanically, as in old clock-works, or through the natural oscillation of atoms, as in newer versions25 Intensive time, however, is characterised by nested sequences of temporality that form complex and multiplicitous relations with each other. A good example is found in the of the genomic regulatory system described by theoretical biologist Stuart Kaufman:

The network, in so far as it is like a computer programme at all, is like a parallel processing network. In such networks, it is necessary to consider the simultaneous activity of all the genes at each moment as well as the temporal progression of their activity patterns. Such progressions constitute the integrated behaviours of the parallel-processing genomic regulatory system.26

Thus, as we learn more and more about the brain and how it works, and as we begin to apply the power of computational technologies to answer some of the questions
concerning its methods, we begin to see that neuro-scientific narratives based on linear modes of explanation are giving way to non-linear descriptions.

The Phylogeny of Projective Optical Technologies

One could hypothesise that the genealogy of optical instrumentation from the Renaissance to the contemporary moment is a story that recounts the history of the changing meanings of time and space. Photography most effectively reinvents and experiments with space, while cinema, building on this spatial practice, added new ways to deal with temporality. It animated and continues to animate space. Through the techniques of analog fast-cut editing, embedding fast-forward and reverse effects into narrative, and silhouetting as a means to illustrate the past, cinema reinvented the interpretation of time. As Hungarian artist and photographer L. Moholy-Nagy remarked with regard to Vertov's The Camera Eye (1924):
The combination of all these elements in their astonishing interchangeability revolutionises the customary visual as well as conceptual processes. It produces a
completely new timing of perception based upon the translation of physical motion into pictorial motion, also the translation of the initial action into an objectively observable process viewed by the acting persons themselves. Though this may appear at first bewildering, one must acknowledge that a new code of space-time perception is in the making.27

This experimentation of cinema with time does not occur in a vacuum, but is part of a network of conditions occurring in other fields similarly affected by concepts and interests involving temporal phenomena. Marcel Proust's À La Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), a seven-volume semi-autobiographical novel published between 1913 and 1927, Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity (1905) and his General Theory of Relativity (1915), and Henri Bergson's Matter and Memory (1896) these paradigmatic writings all dealt with different experiences and formulations of time.

The field of new media, as it grew out of cinema and television, created a digital time and space: a space and time that is now folded, intensiveí and rhizomatic. Powerful
information and communication technologies, such as the internet, undermine serial, extensive ideas of time and space. According to information cartographers Martin Dodge and Robert Kitchen, intensive technologies disrupt traditional forms of cultural and social interactions in critical ways: they promote a mode of global culturisation at the expense of local customs and traditions; they facilitate what has been termed incidental outsiderness, meaning that people live in multiple locations; and they create an alternative sense of identity, one that is fluid, mobile and disembodied. Thus, community that had formerly been dictated by factors of presence and place is now formulated on the basis of interests rather than on location28.

But these are not the only effects. In each case, these network relations leak out of the specificity of optical media into design, fashion and architecture; and, in the end, they
radically alter the visual and haptic landscape. Can anyone imagine the folded, wandering, gestural movements of the Guggenheim Bilboa without Computer Assisted Design programmes, or the idea of the rhizome of Gilles Deleuze without the Minitel? The same visual landscape that, as we will see later, will help select the brain and affect identity. Linked together, these technologies create parallel systems of temporality that simultaneously manifest in time and space, like the genetic regulatory system or the model of the brain using the process of reentry, broadly defined as the synchronisation of neural events occurring in circumscribed and widely disparate areas of the brain.

Photographic spatiality, disrupted, linear and non-linear cinematic time and space, and digital, co-extensive time and space are all now folded together through the transductive force of binary code, which is assimilative. Remediation itself cannot be seen as anything but nomadic, non-linear and recursive. One media does not flow directly into another in a linear and positivist way, but is a series of jolts, digressions, regressions, informal mixings and bricolage. The material specificity of modernism has relinquished its hold on the imagination in todayís world of pervasive symbiotic systems characteristic of the postmodern condition. The result is a grand tapestry of time and space that has resulted in new combinatory possibilities and, by extension, new possibilities for thought and creativity. As these nested relations redefine objects and images, they create landscapes of meaning; these visual ensembles are sampled and processed by the intensive brain.

Brain / Mind / World

The complexities under discussion here are precisely defined by philosophers of science Franciso J. Varela and Evan Thompson:
The nervous system, the body and the environment are highly structured dynamical systems, coupled to each other on multiple levels. Because they are so thoroughly enmeshed biologically, ecologically and socially ñ brain, body and environment seem better conceived of as mutually embedding systems than as externally and internally located to produce (via emergence as upwards causation) global organism-environment processes, which in turn may affect (via downward causation) their constituent elements.29
The genealogic relations of optical technologies, both projective and introspective, contain a number of meta-genealogic relations that influence the physical constituents of
the instruments themselves, how they are made, the images they produce, and the effect these have on the brain and mind. I am referring to a number of processes categorised as visual and cognitive ergonomics30. These two terms refer to the way that technology, combining the knowledge of neuroscience and physiological psychology with the advanced application and utilisation capabilities of computing and recent advances in special effects, has created visual images that are more powerful then naturally occurring ones, with more enhanced potential for first calling out, and then selecting, the nervous system.

These processes employ and utilise sophisticated fields of what urbanist and theorist of technology Paul Virilio calls ìphatic signifiersî. The word 'phatic' shares the same root
as 'emphatic' (Gk. emphanein, to exhibit/display): it means something that forces you to look at it. The phatic image a targeted image that forces you to look and holds your attention is not only a pure product of photographic and cinematic focusing. More importantly it is the result of an ever-brighter illumination, of the intensity of its
definition, singling out brighter only specific areas, the context mostly disappearing into a blur.31

I use the expression ìfields of phatic signifiersî to stress that these stimuli are linked up in large conglomerates of stimulation. Think for a moment of ëbrandingí. The brand is only one part of large landscape of interconnected signifiers. Visual and cognitive ergonomics has been instrumental in the production of this ëbrandedí environment. It refers to an evolution of these practices as they develop in the real/virtual interface as well as the world of bodily experience. The dialogue of optical instrumentation, neurophysiologic research and, more recently, advertising and computerised special effects, has impacted the configuration of visual space in which brands are embedded. The visual landscape has become more textual, and thereby more comprehensible, to an intensive brain that has undergone analogous, although idiosyncratic, changes consistent with its own material substance, its convoluted gyri and sulci consisting of millions of neurons, glia and blood vessels. As a result of experiential selection, new types of neuronal configurations leading to new patterns of neuronal discharge have emerged, reflective of this evolving visual space and time.

Phatic stimuli are produced according to the rules of visual and cognitive ergonomics, and as such have greater attention-grabbing qualities than those stimuli not so engineered. The development of these stimuli traces a history of increasing sophistication and simulation between them. This history is punctuated by moments of competition with each other for the brainís attention, followed by moments of cooperation when certain of these stimuli link up to form networks of stimuli, giving them emergent abilities far greater then they had before, in their isolated states. What emerges is an ecology of phatic forms, the human brain being its interface.

The neuro-anatomical and neuro-physiological condition of the living brain reflects its epigenetic experience. Epigenesis involves the processes by which genetically prescribed forms are altered by interaction with their environment, be it pre-, peri- or post-natal. The conditions of the developing brain, just like the conditions of the world, create specific environments that affect populations of neurons in specific ways that have crucial consequences for its neural architecture. That experience, having been recently dominated by the phatically charged, artificially constructed, cultural domains into which it is born, will reflect a condition generated by intensive non-organic fields of stimulation. (As mentioned earlier in this essay, one could make a similar argument for other sensorial domains.) This condition is one in which naturally derived, organic stimuli and signs, such as trees or our own naturally conditioned feelings, have difficulty competing with phatic entities for the mind's attention. The story of Thomas in my essay 'Blow-up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain' is about this problem.32

If one superimposes the effect of global capitalism on this perceptual system, one begins to understand its staggering proportions; for it has the potential of producing and
disseminating these stimuli worldwide, and to sometimes bizarre excess. Just think of the McDonalds brand, or the power of CNN. These highly engineered sign systems are
distributed worldwide with incredible intensity. They have, in fact, become new media objects, according to cultural theorist and sociologist Celia Lury. A key theme in her analysis is the idea that the brand acts in the market like the interface of a computer: it is a mobile, dynamic and responsive framing of communication33. She adds: "Central to the interactivity of the brand are certain practices in marketing which function in an analogous way to programming techniques in both broadcasting and computing. The most significant example is the feedback loop many marketing practices act like feedback loops of a computer programme"34. Products differentiate according to complex open autopoeitic systems self-limiting, self-generating, self-organising, self-maintaining and selfperpetuating (much like the cell) ñ and through practices like marketing mix, with its model of the 4 Ps': product, price, place/distribution and promotion. Consumer surveys probe user desires, needs and wants, and link these to the use of the product as a marketing tool; this data enables the producers to finally create a kind of super-sized, über meta-object, a phatically compelling entity that is constantly becoming as it competes in a field of similarly differentiating meta-objects for the observer's attention.

The brand progresses or emerges in time in a series of loops, an ongoing process of (product) differentiation and (brand) integration. It thus comprises a dynamic sequence or series of loops that entangle the consumer, Lury concludes.35 Brands also form corporative relations with other brands. For instance, the Coca Cola, Disney and Mars
Corporations have joined up to form networks of brands that interconnect both synchronously (they all occupy one space simultaneously and react in a dynamic and nonlinear fashion to create super-sized desire) and diachronously (they link to the history of other advertising campaigns in which, separately or together, they attempt to influence choice, perhaps in the parents of their target group, young children; this represents a kind of internal marketing in which the brand influences new consumers, children, by appealing to the nostalgia of the parent).

Brands are a distinctive form of phatic signifiers, particularly when they are produced with the use of special effects, or when they are embedded as products used in popular
movies. They become attentionally intensified when they are linked up to global campaigns in which they participate in other global phenomena, such as the global flows of money, people, ideas, raw materials; and through which they interact with local food, languages and cultural customs. These emerging properties, as they are expressed in the global context, can compete effectively for the attention of the global brain.

In a brain that has been selected for through the operation of neural Darwinistic and neural constructivist pressures, the spatial configurations of neurons and networks and
their non-linear, dynamic neural signatures manifest as synchronous oscillatory potentials; they reflect the influence of this complex, competing, artificially created network of phatic signifiers that dominate the contemporary visual landscape. Drawing attention to these processes of binding and dispersal, I propose that as the systems of technical/cultural mediation become increasingly more folded, rhizomatic and cognitively ergonomic, they evolve to more closely approximate the conditions of temporal transaction that sculpt the intensive brain.

I would also hypothesise that there exists an envelope of possible formulas of output from the brain, a kind of virtual potential in the Deleuzian sense. As intensive culture evolves into more complex formations, it produces new dispositions that, when selected and coded by the brain, unlock that potential.

The brain is a becoming machine. The paradigms of neural plasticity and neural Darwinism provide the crucial frame for its continual renewal but also perhaps for its
eventual subjugation.

1. Melanie Wells. ìIn Search of the Buy Buttonî. In Forbes Magazine (1 September 2003), pp. 62-70.
2. But the first zone of the power centre is always defined by the State apparatus, which is the assemblage, that effectuates the abstract machine of molar overcoding: the second is defined in the molecular fabric immersing this assemblage; the third by the abstract machine of mutation, flows, and quanta. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Continuum, 1988, New York) p. 227.
3. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000, Cambridge).
4. Ibid., p. 23. Power is now exercised through machines that directly organise the brains (in communication systems, information networks, etc.) and bodies (welfare systems, monitored activities) toward a state of autonomous alienation from the sense of life and the desire for creativity.
5. Ibid., p. 24.
6. Ibid., p. 33. The communication industries integrate the imaginary and the symbolic with the biopolitical fabric, not merely putting them at the service of power but actually integrating them into its very functioning.
7. Gerald Edelman. The Remembered Present (Basic Books, 1989, New York), p. 45.
8. Ibid., p. 46.
9. From that process of competitive selection in the primary repertoire of cell groups, which is a process fundamentally based on variability, correlation, and connective re-entry, a secondary repertoire of neuronal groups will emerge. They will form a new representational map. The neuronal groups of this second repertoire, that is, of the newly formed map or network, will subsequently respond better to the individual stimuli that formed it. Further, the network as a whole will recognise those stimuli by responding to them categorically. Thus, by the selective process, the secondary network will have become a more effective representational and classifying device for perception, memory and behavior than the original, primary repertoire of cell groupsî. See Joaquin M. Fuster, Cortex and Mind: Unifying Cognition (Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 38.
10. A central hypothesis underlying remediation and enrichment programmes is that the brain is more malleable during infancy and early childhood than later in life. This malleability leads to an increased capacity for learning, which in turn provides an opportunity for the improvement of cerebral functioning that cannot be reproduced to the same extent or with the same ease later in life. This property of the immature brain is referred to as neural plasticity. See Peter R. Huttenlocher, Neural Plasticity (Harvard
University Press, 2002, Cambridge), p. 53.
11. S.R. Quartz and Terrence J. Sejnowski. The Neural Basis of Cognitive Development: A Constructivist Manifesto. In Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (4), pp. 537-96.
12. W.T. Greenough and F.L. Chang. Dendritic Pattern Formation Involves Both Oriented Regression and Oriented Growth in the Barrels of Mouse Somatosensor Cortex. In Brain Research 471, pp. 148-52.
13. P.D. Coleman et al. ìSpatial Sampling by Dendritic Trees in Visual Cortexî. In Brain Research 214, pp. 1-21.
14. Beatriz Colomina. Privacy and Publicity, Modern Architecture as Mass Media (MIT Press, 1998,nCambridge), p. 139.
15. Varela, F.J. et al. The Brainweb: Phase Synchronisation and Large Scale Integration. In Nature Reviews, Neuroscience 2, pp. 229-39 (2001).
16. M. Le van Quyen. Disentangling the Dynamic Core: A Research Programme for Neurodynamics at the Large Scale. In Biological Research 36, pp. 67-88 (2003).
17. Bolter and Guisinís theory of remediation proposes that ìthe history of media is a complex process in which all media, including new media, depend upon older media and are in a constant dialectic with them. Digital media are in the process of representing older media in a whole range of ways, some more direct and transparent than others. At the same time, older media are refashioning themselves by absorbing, repurposing and incorporating digital technologiesî. In (eds.) Lister, Martin et al, New Media: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2003, London), p. 55.
18. Ibid., p. 78. So, for McLuhan, the importance of a medium (seen as a bodily extension) is not just a matter of a limb or anatomical system being physically extended (as in the hammer-as-tool sense). It is also a matter of altering the ratio between the range of human senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell), and this has implications for our mental functions (having ideas, perceptions, emotions, experiences, etc.).
19. John Morgan Allman. Evolving Brains (Scientific American Library Series, 1999, New York), p. 41.
20. There are, grossly speaking, two kinds of nervous system organisations that are important to understanding how consciousness evolved The first is the brain stem together with the limbic (hedonic) system, the system concerned with appetite, sexual and consummatory behaviour and evolved defensive behaviour patterns. It is a value system; it is extensively connected to many different body organs, the endocrine system and autonomic nervous systemÖ It will come as no surprise to learn that the circuits in this limbic-brain stem system are often arranged in loops, that they respond relatively slowly (in periods of seconds to months), and do not consist of detailed maps. They have been selected during evolution to match the body, not to match large numbers of unanticipated signals form the outside world. These systems evolved early to take care of bodily functions; they are systems of the interiorî. See Gerald Edelman, Consciousness: The Remembered Present, in (eds.) Sporns, Olof and Giulio Tononi, Selectionism and the Brain (Academic Press, 1994), p. 111.
21. Personal conversation with Gerald Edelman.
22. Selection pressures affecting language must be considered as nested within one another to the extent that language evolution is nested in biological evolution. On the human side of this equation, the processing demands of symbolic reference, symbolic combination and symbolic communication in realtime provide novel selection pressures affecting the brain and vocal tract. As the language-mediated niche (the symbolic cultural environment) became more and more ubiquitous in human prehistory, these selection pressures would have become correspondingly more important and powerful, producing evolutionary changes in these structures in response. On the language side of this equation, the humanderived requirements of learnability, automatisability, and maintaining consistency with the constraints of symbolic reference provide selection pressures that affect language structures. See Terrence Deacon, Multilevel Selection and Language Evolution, in (eds.) Weber, Bruce H. and David Depew, Evolution and
Learning: The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered (MIT Press, 2003, Cambridge).
23. Very different, in our opinion, is the kind of definition which befits the sciences of life. There is no manifestation of life that does not contain, in rudimentary state, either latent or potential the essential characters of most other manifestations. The difference is in the proportions. But this very difference of proportion will suffice to define the group, if we can establish that it was not accidental, and that the group, as it evolves, tends more and more to emphasise these particular characters. In a word, the group must not be defined by the possession of certain characters, but by its tendency to emphasise them. See Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution (Dover Publications Inc., 1911).
24. Donato Totaro.Gilles Deleuze's Bergsonian Film Project. Offscreen, 31 March 1999.
25. Manuel De Landa. Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (Continuum, 2002, New York/London).
26. Ibid., p. 58.
27. L. Moholy-Nagy. Vision in Motion (Paul Theobald and Co., 1965, Chicago) p. 280.
28. Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin. Mapping Cyberspace (Routledge, 2001, New York).
29. See Francisco J. Varela and Evan Thompson, ìNeural Synchrony and the Unity of Mind: The Neurophenomenonological Perspective, in (ed.) Axel Cleeremans, The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration and Dissociation (Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 279.
30. For a detailed analysis of these terms, see Warren Neidich, title essay in Blow-up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain (DAP, 2003), pp. 22-30.
31. Paul Virilio. The Vision Machine (Indiana University Press, 1994, Bloomfield), p. 14.

32. "Blow-Up" is the story of the ìmutated observerî: one whose neural networks have been sculpted by artificial stimuli to the point that he has become what I call cyborg-ised. Thomas, who plays the role of the fashion photographer David Bailey, has two types of memory. One is the result of his own experiences; the other the result of the memories of the photographs he has taken. As the photographs are more phatic, they compete for the brainís neural space more effectively. He loses touch with his own feeling and memory when these are not supplemented by photographic documentation.
33. Celia Lury. Just Do What? The Brand as New Media Object, inaugural address given at Goldsmiths College, London, 2004.
34. Ibid.
35. Ibid.

Blow-up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain

“I am proposing the notion that we are here in the presence of something like a mutation in built space itself. My implication is that we ourselves, the human subjects who happen into this new space, have not kept pace with that evolution: there has been a mutation in the object unaccompanied as yet by any equivalent mutation in the subject. We do not yet possess the perceptual equipment to match this new hyperspace, as I will call it, in part because our perceptual habits were formed in that older kind of space I have called the space of high modernism……The newer architecture therefore-like other cultural products I have evoked in the proceeding remarks-stands as something like an imperative to grow new organs, to expand our sensorium”. Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, page 38. (1)

“In postwar film he (Deleuze) sees a “lived brain,” which works by “irrational” connections, prior to mental states…….beyond the “objectivized” brain, art as well as philosophy might create multiple new paths or synapses, not already given-new connections.” John Rajchman, The Deleuze Connections, page 11. (2)

INTRODUCTION: “Blow up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain” is the story of the construction of the late twentieth century observer. First of all it describes the multiple and connected genealogies of an ever more refined subjective and projective optical apparatus beginning with the camera obscura and evolving into its' most recent manifestation the virtual reality and computer games. This history defines an increasingly accurate optical image that can be mechanically visualized, reproduced and distributed. As we will see in more detail lateer each culture as it exists in its’ own time and place is defined by a hegemony of interrelating and networking immaterial relations such as sociologic connectedness, unconscious psychological reasons, economic forces and political intrigues that bind it’s members together act to define it. By accurate I mean optical systems that make visual those unseen immaterial relations giving them an optical form that can be analyzed and appreciated by the culture that invented them. The phrase genealogical structures, refers to the separate and intertwined evolutions of these subjective optical instruments between themselves, as one technological milestone creates a foundation for the next, and the parallel set of inventions that act investigate the body itself, like the X-RAY, CAT SCAN and MRI, which through their probing unveil the natural conditions of the body necessary for perception and cognition in the first place. Later on we will add one more element to this equation. The brain and the its’ neural-synaptic structure which we will see are active and passive participants in this process. Culture is in a constant state of transformation as it responds to a constantly mutating milieu determined by the above mentioned relations in a constant state of flux. The transformation of culture induces pressures to produce new kinds of technologies to make it operate more smoothly and coherently. Each of these technologies whether it is the steam engine or the computer are on one hand the product of an evolving social, historical, political, psychological milieu and on the other generate new forces which require the invention of new tools to push it further along forward. One direct outgrowth of the creation of these newly invented culturally derived devices are the optical technologies. Many new devices are invented that allow culture to visualize itself but only a few are really relevant and these, as a result of their widespread use and dissemination, help define and optically describe that culture. Such is the case of photography and cinema. But their effect is not limited to simply its lineage as a device in a history of such devices. These optical inventions feedback on culture itself changing its' face in the context of this new view of itself as well as feed-backing on the brain through their effect on networked relations in the real world and the brain's response to them. It is this latter concern that forms the heart of this discussion. I will show how these new technologies and there effects are imbedded in culture at large and how through a process called Neuronal Group Selection they act to change the way the neural networks of the brain may be organized and reconfigured. I hope to show how photography, cinema and most recently virtual reality have redefined the cultural context from one defined by stasis into one defined by dynamism: a dynamic state in which space and time relations are redefined. It is this dynamic image, which adapts itself ever more adequately to the neuro-anatomic and neuro-physiologic specificities of brain function, such as oscillatory potentials on the one hand and reentry on the other. These terms will be defined in greater detail later. What is essential to appreciate here is that early cinema and later avant-garde cinema created a new temporal dimension which through culture could be disseminated. Its power to communicate was not only found in its projective qualities that allowed hundreds if not thousands of people to appreciate it together but was found in the ease with which those individuals could perceive and cognate it. (3) Culture provided a device or apparatus by which this newly reconfigured temporality could be imbedded and artists were its emissaries. As the twentieth century emerged out of the nineteenth century more and more artists became aware of this new temporality and began to imbed its original awkwardness into their work. In literature there was Proust and Mallerme. Proust brought new meaning to reconfiguring the past and Mallerme reconstructed the devices of the poetic voice to give richness to the meter of the internal voice. In painting there was Marcel Duchamp with “Nude Descending a Staircase #2” and “Sad Young Man on a Train,1911” in which the temporality discovered in the pre-cinematic photographs of Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey where visible in painting. Others followed such as Frantisek Kupka with his “Organization of Graphic Motifs, 1912-1913” and Giacomo Balla with his “Girl Running on a Balcony1912” In architecture Le Corbusier reinvents the “porte-fenetre” into the “fenetre en longuer”. Beatriz Colomina writes “This rethinking of culture through a systematic reappropriation of photography transforms the fundamental sense of space in Le Corbusier’s work. The transformation is most evident in his thinking of the window. After all, the window like the photograph is first of all a frame. The frame of Le Corbusier’s window, like his photographs of the Parthenon, upsets the classical viewer’s expectations, precisely because it cuts something out of the view. (4) Later she alludes directly to the filmmaker Dziga Vertov in her description of the experience of seeing through these windows. “ to an unfixed, never reified image, to a sequence (of photographic images) without direction, moving backward and forward according to the mechanism or the movement of the figure”. The viewer is moving in a cinematic space. As a result of the reinvention of space/time coordinates as they became manifest in this new art, language and architecture, just to name of few, the world in which the spectator or observer moved and lived became changed. The implications of this will be one of the subtext of this essay. It is my opinion that it is this fundamental change in built space that has specific implications for the developing brain. In fact as these new time based relations become configured in the physical world they become remapped into the way neural networks are configured, their spatial relations, and how they operate and communicate to each other through these temporal relations. Whether these temporal and spatial qualities exist as a strategy of the brain already and are simply stamped on the physical world or whether the brain we are born with has infinite potentialities which are unmasked or invented as a result of the new possibilities opened up to it by the changing world that it confronts is one question I hope to address as well.

Whatever the case the cinematic/virtual image, is an image that by its very nature calls to brain in a more direct way. (5) Its structure and its reflectance, I am limiting this discussion to visual images although this argument is pertinent for acoustic, gustatory, kinesthetic, and somesthetic perceptions as well, attract attention in superior ways then images emerging from for instance, nature, because they have been engineered with the human nervous system in mind. I will refer to these images later as phatic after Paul Virilio and the process of their formation as visual ergonomics keeping in mind that they belong to a larger process that I refer to as cognitive ergonomics. “The phatic image-a targeted image that forces you to look and holds your attention-is not only a pure product of photographic and cinematic focusing. More importantly it is the result of an ever-brighter illumination, of the intensity of its definition, singling out only specific areas, the context mostly disappearing into a blur.” (6) As such these artificially contrived images compete more effectively for neural space then their natural or organic counterparts and as such build sets of neural relationships or neural networks that are in a sense artificial. The story of “Blow up” is the story of how these artificial neural networks play a role in the construction of what is real for Thomas, the main character of the film, and how they cause conflicts with those formed through more organic relations. I will use the metaphor of memory to build my analysis and suggest that Thomas has two competing memory systems one gleaned through his normal natural encounters with, for instance, his eyes and ears and another sifted through his photographic prosthesis. In the end it is the informational conflicts that arise through the superimposition of these two systems that cause the conflicts of person that in the end lead to his schizo-affective break down at the end of the film.

This essay is structured in a very different way then most. I have decided to use the structure of avant-garde cinema itself with its weaving and back and forth movements, its switchbacks, and it concretions of action and inaction as a way of presenting this material. The reading of this essay is more like a spiral with the reader consistently returning to previous nodes of inquiry. However not only does this format a kind of memory but in each reactivation and recatagorization of the site the reader understands somewhat better and in more detail the subject matter. In a recent film “Momento” the director uses the device of editing the film to illustrate the main characters loss of short-term memory. Through the “foregrounding” of this technique the audience experiences the frustration and disorder of this disability as if it was their own. I use a similar methodology to explore the non-narrative structure as a better means with which to involve the reader as an active participant in constructing a theory with which to understand the brain.

Intoxicated Sight

When Thomas, the photographer fashioned after David Bailey in Michelangelo Antonioni's “Blow Up” (1966), follows Vanessa Redgrave's gaze into the bushes to discover her accomplice in murder, it marks a rupture between concurrent and mutually exclusive discourses. On the one hand, the apparatus of the eye-brain axis, constructed upon the premise of sensation and reaction. On the other hand, the camera as machine is a mechanical apparatus constructed to extend the range of the body but is not itself “of” the body.

Thomas's sojourn in the park is originally motivated by sheer pleasure. His first inclination is to point his lens at nature in full bloom. His distraction by the tryst of the older man and younger woman comes as the result of an obsessed gaze that hunts out and is called by its own nature, voyeurism. As machine, the apparatus of the camera is constructed as a keyhole that frames the world as a window through which a distanced observer may relish in the secret scene of the bedroom, or in this case, two apparently intoxicated lovers involved in a "secret" liaison. The camera makes the photographer invisible; he is but its organic extension hiding behind it. The performance of photographing, this linking of an organic humanity to the apparatus/machine is not without cost: it results in the momentary loss of self. Thomas is unaware of what is actually going on around him. “Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who called his camera his memory’s eye, abandoned focusing altogether, knowing without looking what his Leica would see, even when holding it at arm’s length, the camera becoming a substitute for both eye and body movements at once.” (7)

He is intoxicated by the process of freeze-framing the world. (8) It is later, back in his studio as he hangs his pictures to dry, that he discovers what "really" happened. Only after a series of "blow ups," in which the apparatus of the camera, its’ partner the enlarger and photochemical laboratory, are used do the secrets which lay hidden in the pictorial space emerge. One is reminded of Walter Benjamin’s comments in "A Short History of Photography". "Photography reveals in this material the physiognomic aspects of visual worlds which dwell in the smallest things, meaningful yet covert enough to find a hiding place in waking dreams, but which, enlarged and capable of formulation, make the difference between technology and magic visible as a thoroughly historical variable." (9) These secret relations exist in and between the parts of an image. They not only define its spatial coordinates, foreground and back round, in-focus and out of focus but its temporal relations as well. Walter Benjamin called these temporal relations, as they existed in photographs and cinema, now-time and “caesura” and their elision and dislocations as space-crossed- time, in which time becomes space and space becomes time. These implicit relations, a term we will return to later in discussing certain processes of the brain, help define the way the photograph is read and therefore understood and they must be uncovered from the image’s unconscious and teased away from some of its own ancillary, distorting conditions. Conditions that are the result of a genealogy of relations imposed from the cultural context that over time may actually act to distort its meanings.

Taxonomy of Phyletic and Episodic Memory

Each photograph functions simultaneously in a multiplicity of memory systems that are permeable to each other and effect specific meanings depending on a system of valences and weights. First it is connected to the collective history of images of which it is part and which we will refer to as phyletic photographic memory, for instance the history of photography. Phyletic photographic memory is further divided into a number of genealogical systems based on semantic and stylistic relations. Some examples are the history of journalistic or fashion photography, the photographs contained in the Library of Congress and those that have been collected in artistic institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art. The advent of cinema and its progeny the “movie still” has recently contributed an intriguing component of phyletic memory. Recent photographic practice, such as the works of Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, and Jeff Wall with its appetite for staging and remixing has made borrowing the sets and stages of film history into a genre all its own. These images and the photographs that have derived from them are well know to the photographic community and form a type long term memory network system which the aspiring photographer must address consciously and unconsciously during the act of photographing. How many of us know young aspiring photographers whose early work describes a process of historic stylistic mimesis in which different styles of great photographers are at first appropriated before the germination of an individual style can take place. The second broad category of photographic memory is called “episodic photographic memory” and it relates to the personal history of the producers own photographic production. For each photographer creates his/her own archive which acts as a kind of parallel memory to the one formed in his or her normal development of relations with the real world. In recent years the work of photographers such as Nan Goldin, drawing on the style of “cinema verite”, have collapsed the idea of episodic photographic memory into phyletic photographic memory by making there most personal experience the subject of their work. Phyletic memory and episodic memory are terms also used in cognitive neuroscience. The former is defined by those genetically engineered spatial and temporal neuronal relations we are as a species are born with and the latter term is defined by how the effects of experience modify these primary” relations. We will see how this parallel photographically derived episodic memory competes with Thomas’s memory as it has been formed through his body’s interaction with the real world and in the end displaces it. Later in the essay when I introduce the terms visual and cognitive ergonomics, we will begin to understand the process by which this displacement by engineered mediated memories takes place. For now let us simply say that they are sexier or as Jonathan Crary says, “obscene” and attract our attention more. (10) It is this attraction that ultimately leads, I will argue, to a system of neural relations, both spatial and temporal, called neural networks that are configured by artificial stimuli. I call these networks by the acronym APSN that stands for “articulated phatic similated neural" networks. As media and cyber culture determine more and more of the world with which we have contact, as we spend more and more of our time interacting with man made artifice such as billboards, television, computer screens and computer games more and more of our neural connections and the memories that they help code will be organized around these artificial relations.

Returning to the photographer, he or she constructs his/her own system of symbolic relations and meanings that “contextualizes” each new image. For episodic photographic memory embraces both synchronic and diachronic, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations. In other words each image relates to the image that just preceded it as well as those images made years before. Each image has meaning in the narrative that the photographer is constructing for himself or herself as well as being related to a history of photographic cultural production. For in the end photography is the act of constructing subjectivity for him/herself and for the members of culture at large. The world hails the artist and the artist finds himself/herself in the anatomy of the world. The photographer and cinematographer create and have a conversation with the world and the product of that discussion is the artwork the totality of which is known as a body of work. The episodic archive of photographs and film are the physical instantiation of what makes the artist. Hidden in the interstitial structure of those images are unconscious and implicit relations. The artist looks into that same space and looks beyond the cliches and instead sews together “discursive regularities” bound together by the synthesis of his or her peculiar self. It is these regularities that the artist can see what for others is impossible to see. In this sense the artist and the community of artists, as they have studied the same history of visual relations and have experienced ensemble the constant reinvention of the objective world in which they live, create another system of relations which in some cases are the antithesis of those of the mainstream. Together they propel another type of vision into the future, one which one day may possibly be understood as conventional. These images are found in the border zones interstitial and minority spaces. “If art, or “the will to art,” supposes a people that is missing, that is yet to come, it is because there arises in a peculiar condition ­the condition in which something new may arise. For novelty in this case is not to be confused with known or visible fashions and the manner in which they are manipulated and promote, but on the contrary, is something we do not or cannot yet see is happening to us…” (11) This tendency to go outside convention in order to deterritorilize new information seems contrary to the visual/cognitive erogonomic paradigm that underlies some of this argument. But the tendency to transform these indeterminate spaces through art is part of a process that I will show is extremely important to the nervous system. Through introducing entropy and increased variability new combinations of sensations and perceptions become possible some of which by chance increase the efficiency with which the brain can code the information of the world. For as I will explain shortly the brain one is born with consists of an overly abundant nervous system in regard to the number and sensitivity of the population its’ neural elements. Gerald Edelman calls this the “primary repertoire”. (12) This primary repertoire is sculpted and pruned by the world that the individual is born into, what I am now calling the real/virtual interface. The real/virtual interface is a laboratory where new combinations of objects and relations are in constant flux as part of shifting experimental paradigms. In the end these experiments, which remember are the result of the shifting and changing social, political, economic, psychological, cultural, historical and aesthetic relations create new objects and relations which then are inscribed in novel networks and network systems. The infinitely variable nervous system is well suited to a variable cultural landscape, the upheavals it creates and the changing visual landscape it dictates. We will see this to be an important impulse of avant-garde cinema as well the avant-garde in general.

Just as the photographer is essential for directing the gaze and aligning the camera along an assumed axis towards that in the "real" which has hailed him/her, he/she is also essential for discovering in the pictorial surface of the photograph other clues to the nature of the image and what it represents. In the transition between the three-dimensional world and its transcription into a two-dimensional surface, changes occur in its representation as photograph which begin to give us clues as to how another kind of coding and transformation, that occurring in the nervous system will occur. On the most superficial level the image is still and frozen. The leaves of trees no longer rustle in the wind, the running figure is frozen mid-step and the sun remains forever behind a silhouetted cloud. Of course photographers using long exposure, stroboscopic methods, camera movement and multiple images have attempted to incorporate a sense of time into its static surface. Some of these methods would find there way into making films. However for the most part the photograph is about spatial relations. The coding of temporality will have to wait for the invention of cinema. But even its spatial relations are subject to interrogation. Through use of focal length and aperture setting that space can become contrived and distorted through manipulations of depth of field. Culturally the problem becomes even more complex when we look at the history of cultural memory as it is delineated in the photographic archive. Although this is not the treatise of this text I think it has important implications for the way that memory is stored and retrieved.

If we believe Peter Gallassi that problems of representation that were found in landscape painting were fast forwarded into early photographic activity which was directed towards imaging nature, one might be able to say the same of history painting. (13) That is to say that the way photography represented history found its schema in the constructed spatial relations of history painting going back to the Renaissance. We are also aware of photography’s role in the representation of history and the construction of a believable grand historical pictorial narrative. This shift from the hand of the painter to the technological photographic apparatus was fraught with difficulties caused by the apparatus of the camera itself. The investigation of which has both plagued and inspired photographers since. Thus, as alluded to earlier, issues such as parallax, depth of field and film speed have affected the way the archive looks and what type of pictures, especially early on, were even possible. For example only moving people and objects coming toward the camera were possible to photographers using very slow lenses and films. Individuals photographed at this time appear stern and stiff because the subject was required to be still for up to four seconds and many times had their neck supported by a brace that attached to the chair in which they sat. But beyond this technological problem there were cultural biases that played a role in what and who were photographed; biases that affected the look and reading of this memory system as much as the technology itself. For the eye of the photographer as it scans the visual terrain and is tuned towards a plethora of possible images selects from that vast array images that tell a story that is culturally biased. It is well known that photography represented the history of bourgeois society, as did painting before, leaving the poor and disenfranchised forgotten. Beyond the actual taking of the photographs there were issues of how the photographs were stored and archived. It is reasonable to assume that the rich and powerful had the means to take care of these images and they therefore would last through time and remain as examples of how people lived and dressed. In reading all the photographs available from that period a high percentage of those that remain will be of those bourgeois cultures thus skewing any interpretation of how people may have lived at that time. Post-modernist photography, which is more interested in investigating apparatus and unveiling its’ form and method of production than its modernist counterpart, has been acutely aware of these problems and has exposed the nature of historical truth as it is manifest in the photograph and how it can be corrupted. Alain Jaubert systematically investigates the methodology of this corruption in his seminal book, “Le Commissariat aux Archives, Les Photo Qui Falsifient L’histoire”. Using a variety of techniques from retouching, cropping, pasting and erasing archivists were able to change the way history was appreciated through the photograph. For instance in many instances the image of Trotsky was removed by these various techniques in order to substantiate Stalin’s claim as the rightful heir to Lenin. (14) This tendency is further informed by Eduardo Cadava “The flood or blizzard of photographs “betrays an indifference toward what the things mean” and thereby reveals the historical blinding or amnesia at the heart of photographic “technicalization”. Substituting for the object and its history, the image represents a trait of the world that it at the same time withdraws from the field of perception. The event that gives the age of technological reproducibility its signature is the event of this withdrawal from sense.” (15)

Crucial to this analysis is that what is represented and thus what makes up history, as we know it through images, is an archive of images that is the result of a construction of a world that can be photographed and yields snapshots. The world takes on a photographic face. This same analysis can be used to look at cinema as well. As we saw first in the films of Leni Reifenstahl such as “Olympia” and the media’s presentation of the O.J. Simpson Trials. “Blow up” is about a discovery and unveiling of that corruption while at the same time a total acquiescence to it. When Thomas is wandering about the park snapping photographs he becomes caught in the phenomenological moment of ecstatic seeing in which his body is elided with the scene of which he is a part. He is unconscious and unaware of the murder that has taken place directly in front of him. His desire has become imbedded in a creative process in which formal rules dictate the direction his camera/eye moves, the amount of space each frame dictates, the position of certain objects in that space and the relations they have to other objects in that shared space. These learned strategies of seeing are imbedded in certain patterns of behavior that control the body such as the tilt of the head, the position of the hands and fingers on the shutter release and focusing ring and even the distribution of muscle tone which controls even his posture. For photographers these postures are imbedded in the actual act of taking a photograph and like walking, breathing, and speaking over time become unconscious. As such they become part of the photograph themselves as that posture in some ways determines the space and orientation of the image. Gary Winogrand’s, “London.c.1967”, “New York.n.d.” and “New York,1962” are just a few examples that come to mind which are examples models of how bodily disposition becomes an unconscious signifier in photographic meaning while at the same time debunking certain predetermined academic postures. Superimposed on culturally derived methods of seeing, such as culturally derived ideas of closeness, harmony and palate, these motor as opposed to sensory adaptations become automatic. In the moment of the act of photographing these learned patterns act to enhance the ability to see, snap photographs and shoot fast while at the same time inhibiting full awareness. They direct the gaze as well as configuring composition. As such they are imbedded in the resulting photograph. It is only through an engaged act of staring and visually searching, in some cases resorting to visual aids like the magnifying glass Thomas uses to inspect his photographs in his studio, that those conventions of seeing, which initially direct the gaze into spaces of knowing but which eventually lead it into lacunae of disinformation, can be overcome.

Avant-garde cinema and the brain

“Blow-up”, as its’ photographic title implies, is part of a much larger impulse of 1960’s avant-garde cinema to connect cinema to its proto-cinematic roots, the motion studies of Etienne-Jules Marey and Edward Muybridge and the single long takes of the earlier Lumiere Brothers' films. Andy Warhol's "Empire" subverts the Hollywood narrative film genre by presenting a single image with slight variations for the entire film. Yoko Ono's "Buttocks" harkens back to Muybridge motion studies. The processes of mechanical reproduction, both his use of the camera and the enlarger, and collage, his reassembly of the images on the studio wall, that define Thomas's investigation of the "real," are a regression of the cinema to its ancestral derivations in photography of the late nineteenth century. The evolving scene of the murder is deconstructed into a set of motion studies as the serial nature of the event is broken down into single shots. Film is montaged, speaking only about photographic montage and not cinematic, into the photo-still and through this process, the true nature of reality unfolds. It is this process of montage, that links avant-garde cinema to the brain. The act of selecting specific examples from the whole host of images, or decoupage, running before our eyes during the cinematic spectacle and their later diegetic reconstruction, is metonymic for a similar process occurring as we witness the spectacle of the "real/virtual interface" and vice versa.

Take a moment to conjure up memories from your childhood. From the almost infinite number of images and their relations construct a story with the faces of friends. Change the locations with these friends. Imagine them today. The story that these memories conjure ,as they are projected upon the immaterial screen in your minds eye and viewed, are a product of ones’ desires, needs, and identity at the particular moment of its’ imagining. A non-narrative, avant-garde film is set up to do the same thing. The stream of images that flow in front of the audience are constructed in such a way that the audience is able to “create” a variety of narratives from the same information. The most extreme cases of this kind of film can be found in Stan Brackage’s, “Dog Star Man” or the early films of Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid such as “Meshes of the Afternoon”. Each person creates their own story from the flow of fragmented images embedded in fractured plots that erupt and fly upon the film screen in a free and unencumbered way. The fragmented nature of these bits and pieces allows them to be bound and collaged together in a myriad of ways creating innumerable plots and stories; stories that have as much to do with cultural context and ideological climate as they do with character development and plot analysis.

This process of selection/montage is reminiscent of Loius Althuser's concept of "interpellation" in which ideology constitutes concrete individuals as subjects: ideology hails its subjects (16) That an ideology is adopted by those that it resonates for and is reified, it becomes part of their body. The immaterial visual landscape that is projected upon the screen is one that, as mentioned above, is full of ideological, cultural and aesthetic determinations. Together they form networks of signifiers that are defined by these determinations in space and time. But cinematic time and space or the experience of cinematic time and space is very different from that which the body responds and is bound to in its normal relations with its experience. These differences are even more pronounced when we compare linear time found in most narrative Hollywood films and that of non-linear time found in its avant-garde non-narrative counterparts. In linear time the story or narrative follows a time line with beginning, middle and end. The film moves seamlessly across the screen in front of a passive audience. In non-narrative film time can be manipulated as an apparatus of cinematic production. The plot rides on its feedback and feed forward disruptions and the audience consciously or unconsciously builds the story from these temporal fragments. Recent Hollywood hybrids like “American Beauty” and “Memento” combine both strategies in their attempt to mimic those relations of the real/virtual interface. This is extremely important for two reasons which later on will be further elucidated. First of all these experiments in time that define avant-garde cinema are mimetic of temporal relations already present in culture and society at large and are responsible for its increased density and complexity. They are endemic to the internet and the way, for instance in hypertext, meaning is piggy-backed onto the same bits of space and time. The very fact that Hollywood has adapted these strategies is in itself an indication of how prevalent these strategies are and how important they are to the viewing audience who now considers them normal rather than odd and cognitively challenging. Secondly these experiments with the application of temporal strategies of non-narrative film have created new paradigms upon which new temporal formations can be described that later will have implications for information systems and for what I call “visual and cognitive ergonomics. As we will see in our description of “Blow-up” more and more cinematic time and now virtual time is being embedded in the “real” as it becomes transformed into the real/virtual interface. The implications for the body are enormous. For the developing brain adapts to these new space-time relations as neurons and neural networks within an existent variable population compete for this newly coded information. Those neurons and networks which most easily can adapt to these newly configured space-time continuum of the real/virtual interface will survive and undergo what J.P. Changeux has called “exuberant growth”. (17) Those neurons and networks whose electrochemical potentials are at odds with these new relations will undergo apoptosis or cell death. (18) In the end the brain undergoes a kind of transformation or mutation in which a new kind of subject or observer is created. I refer to this newly sculpted brain as the “cinematic brain” and the person who is the carrier of such a brain “The Mutated Observer”. This cinematic brain has important implications for our understanding of “Blow-up”. Thomas’s dilemma in this film is a product of a schism or rift between his "cinematic" and "real "brain.

Recent post-structuralist discourse has redefined the role of the audience in constructing meaning from the disparate signals introduced by the cinematic experience. Authors like Jean-Pierre Oudart and Stephen Heath introduced the notion of the “suture” to describe the way the spectator is connected to the representations flowing across the screen of cinema. (19) That non-narrative film introduces fragmented objects, signs and temporal relations into its basic structure to be easily assembled and disassembled makes it easier for the audience to perform similar acts of assemblage and dis-assemblage. The film can then contain a multiplicity of narrative structures simultaneously which act in parallel. Different groups, for instance those constituted by individuals with different cultural background or personal histories, can coexist within the same audience and may construct separate stories from the same film. On the other hand there may be points in the film in which these different audiences may agree. These can be become nodal points around which a consensus concerning the overall meaning of the film can be constructed while still being consistent with a personal reading. Different nodes can participate in the same narrative and the same node can participate in different narratives. Each context slightly alters each nodes meaning as it is shaded and colored by the differing stories it is embedded in. Later on in this discussion we will see how this multiple narrative structure, parallel dimension, fragmented nature and nodal construction have important implications for theories concerning the development and construction of the neuronal structure of the brain. For instance Edelman has called neural networks that participate in multiple larger networks degenerate. (20) For clarity sake, because the section on the brain needs a great deal of introductory information, I would like to continue with this basic discussion of cinema.

Scopic Regimes of Modernity

The meaning that cinema has for us is to some extent related by its close relation to reality. (21) Film is filled with objects with which we are familiar. Their meaning to us and their constructed relationship to each other mimic those relations with which we are already familiar in our daily lives. But the meaning those objects have and their relations are determined by static and changing aesthetic, cultural, social and psychological forces which, for instance, control how those objects are made and used or their spatial arrangement in a room. Marcel Duchamps use of the urinal, wine rack and shovel are a testament to the way that the meaning of neutral objects change and are transformed through simply re-positioning of them from their original context as utilitarian objects into one in which they are appreciated as sculptural art objects. Objects that are bound by very different social, aesthetic, psychological and economic histories and as such are appreciated in the context of a history specific to that kind of object. Duchamp’s, signed R. Mutt, “Fountain”,1917 is therefore embedded in a history of sculpture that begins with early man’s use of figurative fetish objects in religious ceremonies, continues with Michealangelo’s, “David”, followed by Robert Smithson’s, “Spiral Jetty”, 1970 and today exemplified by Gabriel Orozco’s “ET4. LA DS” 1993 (transformed Citroen). Although these other sculptures do not emerge from the same conceptual framework as "Fountain, 1917" they nonetheless help define what Duchamp's three-dimensional object is and what it is not in terms of a history of sculptural objects displayed in a gallery or museum. But spatial and temporal relations have a separate history as well and like there object counterpart these relations are affected by the political, social, psychological, historical, economic and aesthetic relations, just to name a few, in which they are embedded. Therefore space and time can be seen as devices just like our visual apparatti and the way space and time operate can be viewed as an indices of cultural change. In fact each culture and generation invents spatial and temporal constructs that are specific for the changing needs they confront. These constructs become folded over one another rather than simply superseding each other, one displacing the next in a linear progression. This is especially true of what Martin Jay calls the “scopic regimes of modernity” in which a succession of context dependent notions of space developed throughout history become collaged together combining to create our contemporary notion of space. “For as Jacqueline Rose has recently reminded us, “ our previous history is not the petrified block of a single visual space since, looked at obliquely, it can always be seen to contain its momemt of unease. In fact, may there possibly be several such moments, which can be discerned, if often in repressed form, in the modern era? If so, the scopic regime of modernity may be understood as a contested terrain, rather than a harmoniously integrated complex of visual theories and practices.” (22) So what are these different scopic regimes of modernity and how do they configure a context driven space? What role has cinema and new media played in reconfiguring space and time and how have these affected the construction of the twentieth century observer of which Thomas is a prime example. These are some of the questions I would like to now address.

The first scopic regime of modernity alluded to by Martin Jay is Cartesian Perspectivalism which is a combination of the Renaissance notion of perspective developed by the artist Brunelleschi and written about by Alberti and Descartes’ idea that visual representations are projected upon a screen in the brain and rationalized by the mind. The basis of this idea came from a desire to code the three-dimensional world onto the two-dimensional surface of the painted canvas to be appreciated as a three dimensional picture. It required an unemotional, privileged, monadic eye that was in league with scientific accounts of the world. Objects existed in spaces fixed by specific x, y and z coordinates that were defined by connected opposing five sided triangles whose apices touched the fovea of the observer’s retina and the paintings vanishing point. This space created a stage where various narrative structures could and did unfold. I will later argue that it is this Southern tradition of the Cartesian Perspectival window that forms the basis for the Hollywood narrative film whereas avant-garde film is more in synch with the Northern tradition of art of the grid that evolved in the low countries of Holland and Belgium in the seventeenth century. “ Like the microscopist of the seventeenth century-Leeuwenhoech -Dutch art savors the discrete particularity of visual experience and resists the temptation to allegorize or typologize what it sees, a temptation to which she claims Southern Art readily succumbs.” (23) Unlike its predecessor it elevates the art of description over narrative and assumes the existence of objects prior to the observer’s position in front of the canvas. The Northern tradition, sometimes allegorically described by the term Baconian Empericism, redefines space and time relations as finite and infinite simultaneously in opposition to its Cartesian counterpart. Finite in the sense that objects and space could be described and infinite because there was no limits to those spaces and the objects that inhabited them. In its grid it reinvents time and space relations that are essential to changing notions of the limits of space and time itself. For the Dutch realized, sometimes unconsciously, that different worlds existed simultaneously in the optics of the microscope and in the endless horizon of the sea. Whether drawing the minute world of the space of a cell or redefining the endless space of the sea as a map they understood that space and time went beyond the space of their rendering, continuing forever. When it was time for the painter to stand in front of the canvas these same strategies found their way into his/her “recodings” of the landscape and still life. The grid was an invention and a tool like perspective to represent a world that was now understood differently and thus needed to be represented differently. It is no wonder that this art of describing would predate the invention of photography. “….the art of describing also anticipates the visual experience produced by the nineteenth-century invention of photography. Both share a number of salient features “fragmentariness, arbitrary frames, the immediacy that the first practitioners expressed by claiming that the photograph gave nature the power to reproduce itself directly unaided by man.” (24)This sentence could end “unaided by man” over and over and over again. This is, as we will see when we follow the trajectory of the work from Etienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge to Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono , a kind of fundamental dictum of minimalism and experimental film. The grid forms a theoretical framework in the early sixties where the strategies of artistic production can be played out. The third schema or model to influence modern vision is that of the Baroque which participates more like an anti-model. Here the geometricalized spaces of perspective and the grid are eschewed for one likened to a mirror that is unreadable, opaque, distorted and out of focus. It moves the viewer out of visual discourse altogether and replaces it with a tactile or haptic quality. The body, which was dethroned by Cartesian Perspecivalism, here makes a startling comeback with the return of a sublime eroticism.

The final two models that I would like to discuss are assembled from these first three but extend their arguments. They are Warped space and Mutated Space. Warped space has recently been championed by Anthony Vidler in his book that carries the title “Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture”. Warped space is the result of, on the one hand, the role of the psyche in the perception of and creation of space and on the other the role of the artist projecting his or his discourse on architecture from without. For the purpose of this text I would like to focus on the former. The psychic space is in some ways an adaptation of Kant’s notion of the sublime space except here the body's anxiety has been transferred to the audacious space of the piazza and its subjective feeling of agoraphobia from the supersensible response to mountain peaks. “Astonishment that borders on terror, the dread and the holy awe which seizes the observer at the sight of mountain peaks rearing themselves to heaven, deep chasms and streams raging therein…. In the safety in which we know ourselves to be, is not actual fear but only an attempt to feel fear by the aid of the imagination, that we may feel the might of this faculty in combining with the mind’s response the mental movement thereby excited” (25) The sublime is a condition of reflective judgment and not a characteristic of the object itself. Kant goes further in his analysis of the sublime and links it to the estimation of the magnitude of things by apprehension and comprehension. He posits that the mind in its apprehension of a thing breaks down that object into identifiable parcels or quanta and reconstructs the object of regard in the mind by binding these quanta together into a larger whole. The problem comes when the estimation of magnitude is beyond the mind’s ability to hold the sensation long enough to attach the forthcoming sensation to it. “For when apprehension has gone so far that the partial representations of sensuous intuition at first apprehended begin to vanish in the imagination, while this ever proceeds to the apprehension of others, then it loses as much on the one side as it gains on the other, and in comprehension these is a maximum beyond which it can not go.” (26)Inherent in this notion of the sublime is the concept of “beyondness” which for Kant like Vidler concerns the limits of the body to negotiate space. A space which architecture, as it embeds itself into the “landscape” of the city, first configures according to the bodies perceptual abilities and then challenges its psychic stability. Warped space is the product of interlaced historical strategies of spatial and temporal configuration of the new metropolis or Grossstadt which are linked to specific psychopathologies. Agoraphobia, the fear of open space, hysteria, physical illness that is defined by symptoms incommensurate with anatomical possibilities, vagabondage and ambulatory automatism a kind of amnesia for traversed space and severe distraction, the direct result of the destruction of the space of judgment or reflection by the assault of rapid communication and technological invention where, according to Benjamin, “space was for rent” were all caused by the new perceptual challenges imposed by the new urban environment. It is this last psychopathology that has the most relevance for our discussion of the constructed new observer of the twentieth century and the cinematic brain. I would like to argue that the cluster of psychopathologic states here described resulted from the transformation of built space that photography and cinema incurred through its production in architecture. “ that modern architecture becomes modern not simply by using glass, steel or reinforced concrete….but precisely by engaging with the new mechanical equipment of the mass media, photography, film, advertising, publicity publications and so on.” (28) This modernism created new spatial/temporal conditions which required a neuro-perceptual apparatus that was adequate to their challenging reconfiguration of spatial temporal contingencies. “In modern cinema images cease to conform to tonal rhythms-spectacular moments give way to the most banal ones…without a sense of rational logic. In the end the cinema trips into an ambiguity so overwhelming that the imaginary and real become indiscernible…every perception is an hallucination”(29) It is my opinion that these mental conditions were the result of an inadequacy of the neuro-perceptual system, configured according to the spatial and temporal conscriptions developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, to deal with challenges that a new condition of time and space exploding out of Realism, captured by photography, redefined by cinema and imbedded into a new urban mediascape would impose.

Mutated space is a term that has been used in various contexts and in fact has even substituted for the term “warped space”. (30) I would like to use it here to signify a specific mental condition of space/time relations as they become coded for in the brain. Mutated space is a specific architectectonic condition of the neurobiologic substrate which is the resultant condition of a brain that attempts to code for the ever evolving conditions of what we now appreciate as the real/virtual interface. (31) I have already alluded to some of the theories of Edelman and Changeux concerning the way that culture inscribes itself on the brain in the transformation of what they refer to as the primary repertoire into the secondary repertoire and I will have to ask for the readers continued patience for a full explanation of these neurobiologic theories. Suffice it to say that whereas warped space and its psychic correlates are the result of reaching the limitations of the brain’s ability to deal with the changes of the "grossstadt", mutated space is the result of the brain’s innate changeability. This flexibility to adapt to new environmental cues is the result of a kind of neural plasticity in which a highly variable, the firing specificities of the neural population are widely distributed over many kinds of sensory stimuli, and overpopulated nervous system is pruned, so to speak, through a process of cell death and exuberant production. (32) The constantly evolving environment is the result of a multiplicity of immaterial relations, such as psychological forces, sociologic cues, economic stimuli, technologic adaptations, and aesthetic styles, that interact together on and though the material world of objects and their relations and the virtual world of televised images, billboards, cinematic images, computer screens and computer games. The history of objects, their relations and the spaces they occupy as well as the history of their virtual counterparts act to write a type of cultural memory. Each entity is the resultant of a multiplicity of vectors. On one hand each has its own historical antecedents and on the other each is adapted to a particular contemporary context. The computer screen was adapted from a television screen that was adapted from the movie screen that was adapted from a painting and so on. These specific and separate evolutionary systems have an interacting counterpart as well. Each come together at sites of interaction called nodes in which for instance technologies developed for one machine can be adapted to be used in another. In this way these memory systems develop and change together and as they do they cause a domino effect throughout the whole system. It is this evolving systemof relations that the brain must adapt to. The mutated brain is the term used to express the constantly evolving system of interacting neural networks that are the result of this evolving world. The next section will deal with a specific kind of interaction that resulted from the development of cinema but is relevant for new media as well.


“Deleuze describes the brain as a relatively undifferentiated mass in which circuits aren’t there to begin with; for this reason, (c)reating new circuits in art means creating them in the brain too. The cinema does more than create circuits, through, because, like a brain, it consists in a complexity of images, imbricated and folded into so many lobes, connected by so many more circuits. While cinema can simply reiterate the facile circuits of the brain, appealing to arbitrary violence and feeble eroticism, it can also jump those old grooves, emancipating us from the typical image-rhythms….opening us t a though that stands outside subjectivity…” (33)

Cinearchitectonicneuro-synaptologics (CAN) is a term that describes a process by and through which photographic, cinematic and now virtual space, their formal spatial and temporal properties, become first imbedded in architectural forms and discourse and then inscribed upon the brain. Through their connection to photons of light photography, cinema and the visual components of virtual space share with the eye-brain axis a common currency. In the case of photography and cinema light emanating from the objects of the cameras regard are captured by the apparatus of the lenticular system and focused upon a specialized membrane, the film emulsion, where a specific photochemical reaction takes place. The history of photography and film has in essence has been a continual readjustment and reinvention of these components in a process of frequent adaptation. The requirements that an evolving time-space relationship in which the need for faster and faster lens systems, lenses that had larger apertures to capture the light without compromising optical quality caused by chromatic and lenticular aberrations, faster films with greater sensitivities, new cameras which could capture the essence of movement itself and finally ever more refined strategies to capture the attention of an audience with an ever increasing appetite for visual sensation and an ever increasing threshold of believability. In the case of the eye-brain axis the stimulation of specially evolved light processors in the retina, a thin transparent membrane that covers the spherical back of the eye, which communicate and transmit information along a specified route called the anterior and posterior visual pathways to the far posterior aspect of the brain called the visual cortex. ( Figure 3 )What connects these systems is that each is tethered to the electro-magnetic qualities of light. That the history of the neuro-physiology of vision, the invention of devices to research light and the history of the invention of photography, proto-cinematic devices and cinematic technologies occurred together and were linked to each other is, I believe, no accident. (34) That these devices as they captured the attention of an eager public would find themselves embedded in other aesthetic practices that also investigated vision such as painting, fashion and architecture is no surprise. Artists like Georges Seurat, Frantisek Kupka, Jacques Villon, Marcel Duchamp, Carlo Carra, and Giocomo Balla all created works of art that were photographically and cinematically inspired. It was only natural that these strategies, experimented with upon the two dimensional plane of the canvas would find there way into architectural practice as it was conceived, built, photographed and disseminated. It would find an immaterial basis like the light that first bathed and reflected its surface and later would become a kind of metaphor or analogy for built space itself in the work of John Hejduk and LeCorbusier. (35)

In the next chapter I will make the point that these relations as they are immaterial and therefore act invisibly are made visible by specific optical technologies. These technological devices like the camera obscura, the camera lucida, the photographic and cinematic camera and today information and communication technologies ( ICT) (Figure 4 )are in fact each societies response to these invisible relations and their desire to make them visible. It is the complex interaction of these immaterial relations that produces special technologic requirements that necessitate refinements of older apparatti or the production of brand new ones. A similar story can be told for the conceptions of time and space. They function to redefine a special set of circumstances in which they are imbedded and they produce a context in which the constantly mutating relations, previously described above, can mix and interact . New conceptions of time and space create a context in which specific sets of ideas, which had been previously disproportionate with each other, are now able to align themselves to form new concepts which in turn generate the need for new instrumentations to record them. The Theory of Relativity, The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and The Schroedinger Wave Equation disrupted then known facts about time and space and would have to wait many years for new technologies and instrumentation to prove their pronounced validity. These kinds of discoveries generate new complexes of information that require new definitions of time and space. This process is not always as linear as I have described it here. Many times there are fits and starts, switchbacks even bushwhacks, if I may use such a metaphor, in which information which appeared inconsequential is now seen as significant and new bits of information are transformational and revolutionary as to turn everything upside down. Such is the case for our recent history of optical technologies of which photography, film and cyberculture form an integral part. From the simple devices for the creation of pleasure for which all these instruments were originally invented these instruments, like a lightening flash, became influential in the generation of new ideas about space and time that would influence Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” 1917 and Albert Eistein’s Theory of Relativity. These changes would first take place in the spaces accorded to them by the image, frame or screen followed by their indirect affect on visual culture in the public space of billboards and giant video screens and finally by the impact they have had on the skin of architecture, fashion, and design. In the end I will argue that the new strategies of configuring time and space that are experimented with locally in each specific media and its later transcription into the broader spaces of visual culture are part of a much larger tendency in which information, and its processing, becomes more dense: that the curved dimensions of space and time can be packed with ever more and more information by incessant folding and plication. (36) I will define this process as visual and cognitive ergonomics. The overall affect of this process is in the end on the brain itself and the way it codes information. I will hypothesize a bi-directional process in which these new experiments with time and space become in(cor)porated into the way neurons and neural networks at a local, for instance the visual cortex, and global level, in which the areas of the whole brain are involved, become organized and interact. These neural networks are configured according to networks of relations that occur first in the visual landscape and are formed from interconnected signifiers. Evolving networked relations in the real world configure evolving networked relations in the brain. For instance primitive man hunting for game might put together animal tracts, the smell of fresh urine, and animal fur tethered to a broken branch as evidence that what he is searching for is nearby. In the modern world these signifiers can vary from groups of objects that have purposely arranged to produce specific meanings, like furniture arranged on a stage in a play, or they can be simply groups of texts consolidated together on a billboard advertisement. When these signifiers are constructed in such away, in the boardrooms of advertising companies and the laboratories of perceptual psychologists, that they “capture” our attention they become phatic signifiers. Paul Virilio calls this a “process of message intensification” and defines a phatic image in the following way. “The phatic image-targeted image that forces you to look and holds your attention-is not only a pure product of photographic and cinematic focusing. More importantly it is the result of an ever-brighter illumination, of the intensity of its definition, singling out brighter only specific areas, the context mostly disappearing into a blur.”(37)

As we live in a world in which the visual landscape is a clutter of these phatic signifiers competing for our attention. I say competing because within the ever-developing field of phatic signifiers new types of signifiers are always being developed. Simply look at the special affects used in Sci-fi movies of the fifties and compare them to those used in the Star Wars Trilogy or witness the effect of the change in movies with advent of Technicolor. What captured our imagination then seems funny and primitive. But special affects are not limited to the movie theater they are happening everywhere constructed images are being formed, located and distributed globally. The devices of cinema, the stage, lighting, cameras, editing machines, special computer programs like after-affects, are being used in television, advertising, and news bureaus. Just as we witness an evolving genealogy of cinematic devices and concepts of the representation of space so to is there a genealogy of specialized devices of special effects to intensify the sensorial and perceptual effect. Ever more sophisticated and intense phatic signifiers are being produced and they are pushing out there more unsophisticated progenitors from the visual landscape in a process similar to natural selection accept the real selection is taking place in the brain as these stimuli compete for the brain’s and its’ neuronal attention. The field of significant signifiers becomes the field of phatic signifiers. Within these fields relations grow which link phatic signifiers together. For instance the use of movie stars to sell products has recently become very popular, the appropriation of movies to structure television programs and vice versa are some examples of the networking of these signifiers in to grand schemata of signification. The visual landscape becomes a network or field of phatic signifiers. This network, as it is composed of elements that developed together in synch and erupted out of the same desire to create an ever more refined and intense image and the end product of selectionist forces that prune off its detritus and excess, is a very efficient system of relations. As they are technologically based and have been created out of the same linguistic surface, in the case of digital technology the binary system, their efficiency translates into a more competent use of space and time. We know this is true as we are witness to the invention of smaller and smaller microprocessors to run smaller and smaller computing devices which have more and more computing power. This in the end has lead to more and more complex abilities and has allowed to society to investigate more and more complex entities including newer concepts of time and space like black holes. (38) These networked relations as they have evolved in the world become the stencils upon which the networks of the brain are modeled. Their complexity and efficiency find their counterpart in a selected neuro-biologic apparatus. As a result technologic apparatti, space and time apparatti and neuro-biologic apparatti all develop in tandem and themselves create a complex set of relations. A little later I will show how these artificial phatic signifiers compete for the neural space of memory with non-artificial stumuli. I will build an argument around the development of a mutated observer of the twentieth-century, of which Thomas is a good example, on a hypothesis that these phatic signifiers are “selected” for by brain above and beyond their non-artificial “real” counterparts and are thus remembered easier and more intensely and in the competition for limited neural space become its master. Before I develop my argument further I would like to step back a little to discuss a fundamental hypothesis and somewhat still controversial theoretical framework of neurobiology called “Neural Darwinism” or “Neural Selectionism.”

Neural Selectionism and Culture

Gerald Edelman in "Remembered Present" building on the theories of Hebb and Pierre Changeux, constructs a concept of cerebral development and cognition based on the Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. (39) This theory posits that we are born with an overabundant population of neurons that he refers to as the primary repertoire. (40) Through a process of amplification of sensitized neurons and pruning of non-essential ones the brains' micro-architecture, the structure of the connections of the units of nervous system referred to as neurons, which can be visualized with a microscope, is sculpted by relevant inputs. The primary repertoire is the result of genetic influences that describe a blueprint in space and time that is followed by millions of migrating neurons during development. A “secondary repertoire” is formed after conception as the result of an interaction between the world that person is born into, which is in flux and can change from one generation to the next, and the neurons and connections of the primary repertoire. Those neurons that develop enhanced firing patterns do to inputs of groups of sensations generated from objects, their signifiers and the spatial and temporal relations that exist between them are selected for over and above those that are not similarly stimulated. These selected neurons are amplified because they are stimulated by these relevant inputs over and over again. Remember that objects as conglomerates of individual sensations share with other objects similar sensations. Therefore the same neuron that codes for that fragment of the object can be stimulated by the same sensation from a multitude of objects that share that attribute. Those neurons that are not stimulated undergo a process called apoptosis and die off. “ The concept that there are mechanisms that act to retain those pathways in which patterns of external stimuli induce activity and eliminated potential connections not so activated has been termed functional validation by Jacobson and selective stabilization by Changeux and Danchin.” (41) The resulting population of neurons reflects these interactions and is dominated by those that are frequently stimulated. These sources of stimuli are woven over and over again into the network of relations that exist in the world apart from the body. In the case of vision, visual objects, their signs and relations have many synchronous and interactive qualities such as color, shape, motion, and form. The history of painting, photography and cinema is characterized by an investigation of these qualities and their representation and non-representation. But it turns out that the visual cortex of the brain, which sits in the far posterior aspect of the brain, consists of multiple functionally specialized areas with which to receive these inputs. They are called V1, V2, V3, V4, V5. V1 and V2 mostly send information to the other areas. V1 is called the cortical retina because a topographic map of the retina can be recreated on it. Without getting too deeply involved with an explanation of the neurophysiology suffice it to say that each area has a particular function such that V4 is responsible for color vision and V5 for motion. But we know that objects and their relations share many of these qualities simultaneously. An apple is red, it has a specific shape that we recognize as apple, it is stationary unless given a push and it exists in a physical milieu that gives it a context. One neuron cannot code for all this information and a network of neurons is required. According to Hebb neurons that fire together wire together. As a result of simultaneously coding for all this information together a neural network is formed. When a network is confined to one area of the brain it is called a local map. Local maps like the ones for the visual cortex also exist for the senses of hearing, taste, and touch. Many times however the visual characteristics of an object are connected to other sensory qualities such as smell and sound and emotional qualities like love and pain that are perceived by other parts of the brain. Many times visual sensations will necessitate a response of the whole body and musculature. In this case a sensory-motor loop will be instigated defined by specific neural networks that connect the posterior part of the brain, where information for sensation is located, to the more anterior aspects where action is cognated. This sensory motor loop as we will see will be very important when we discuss classic and modern cinema in relation to movement and time images In these cases the networks expand beyond the restricted domains of a particular sensory system to create what are referred as global maps. Local and global maps are under the same selective pressures as the neurons that form them. Just like neurons neural networks are amplified if they are repetitively stimulated. This may result from the same inciting stimuli or it can result from a networks participation in larger networks in which they play a role. The apple, of our previous example, can play many different roles in many different scenarios that take part in the real world as well as those which are included in memories and obsessive fantasies. In the end the brain, its neurons, synaptic connections, and neural networks are sculpted by the inputs it encounters after birth. The question then becomes what if these inputs are artificially constructed rather then real or organic. What happens when these artificial stimuli are engineered to be more sensational and intense because they have been created with the brain in mind. What happens when fields of phatic supersignifiers manufactured with social, political and psychological intent compete in the space of the world for the brains attention. I will try to answer some of these questions a little later.

Eye-vision, Camera Vision

The act of photographing as an act of will is the repetition and invocation of a number of Neurobiological events coordinating the desire/value in seeing with the act of shooting. Thomas's body movements, which have been mentioned previously in the literature on temporal discussions of "Blow Up", are a kind of improvisational performance in search of the perfect angle he attempts to discover an alignment that brings a harmony between his subjective phenomenological self and the machine/camera. This performance stems from his desire to find the perfect balance between the optical axis of the camera with the optical axis of his eye. It is the non-resolution of these two opposing factors that lies at the heart of the conflict and disjunction of "Blow Up." For Thomas is in many ways the quintessential twentieth century observer. The latest model in the creation of a subjectivity that begins in the chamber of the camera obscura matures through the elided space of the stereoviewer, and reaches a sort of apogee with the experience of cinema and today new media. The central problem explored by this film concerns the problem of the postmodern observer, an observer in whom fiction and reality are interchangeable in the construction of the observing subject. The misalignment of the phenomenological body and the apparatus of the camera is for Thomas a problem of misalignment of how and by what means he identifies "himself". This "disjunctive subjectivity" is the result of a steady reconfiguration of the observer and the associated substitution, the acceptance and finally dependency of the simulacrum as real. The technological shifts that marked changes in the representation as defined by the camera obscura, the stereo viewer and the phenakistascope marked shifts in the viewer /observer relation to reality and his/her willingness to allow these projections to substitute as real facts in the construction of consciousness and memory. “Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain” is an essay which analyzes the reasons and affects of this misappropriation of the simulacra of cinematic projection on the construction of long term memory and its consequence for the construction of subjectivity.

The invention of film was a logical result of technological advances and the matrix of sociological and cultural facts that surrounded and enveloped it. The carnate observer of the nineteenth century becomes the disincarnate body alone in the passivity of watching, which is so characteristic of the cinematic observer. Jonathan Crary, although focusing on the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century observer is aware of certain implications in his predictions for the twentieth century: "The formalization and diffusion of computer-generated imagery heralds the ubiquitous implantation of fabricated visual "spaces" radically different from the mimetic capacities of film, photography, and television... Computer-aided design, synthetic holography, flight simulators, computer animation, virtual environment helmets,.are only a few of the techniques that are relocating vision to a plane severed from a human observer." (42) This prediction is predicated upon an analysis of both a non-linear and linear trans-historical journey of ever more refined technologies in the context of a mutating observer. (43) Non-linear in the sense that the development of these technologies is a history of stops and starts and of erasures and refinements. “ At each level different non-linear dynamics take place, with their own multiple equilibriums and bifurcations between alternative stable states.” (44) It is a history that in its becoming is the result of a multiplicity of histories, cultural, psychological, aesthetic, biologic that develop tangentially and in parallel and are later implicitly conjoined. Much like non-narrative avant-garde film that history is a collage of and fitting together of disparate images and events that together define the character of that historical being. What we know as linear history is the result of an editing process that comes after the fact in an attempt to create a unified narrative and as a result a unified audience of observers who see and appreciate the same thing. As we will begin to appreciate as this essay unfolds it is the power of this narrative cinematic experience especially its affect on phyletic and episodic memory as it creates a unified audience of observers at the most basic level of the neural network. That in fact the mutations in built space that were alluded to in the first quote of this text by Jamison are in fact going on all the time. What Jamison is saying is that sometimes the changes in space and the objects that inhabit that space are ahead of the body's ability to change in relation to them. For the spaces created by one generation of artists architects, city planners and fashion designers must many times await the transformed neurobiogic substrate of the next generation of observers in order to appreciate them. In the present situation the modernist object, space and sense of time have sculpted, through the process of neuroselectionism we spoke of earlier, the neurosynaptic structure of the modernist observer. Post-modern objects, space and time have not yet conspired to construct a population of observers who have the neurobiologic apparatus to understand them.

Any population is made up of a heterogeneous mixture of observers defined by the degree to which their neurobiologic architecture has been configured by specific cultural models instantiated in specific object time/space relations that are constantly shifting. Jamison’s model of the technologic sublime can be somewhat reconfigured using this model. For here what is sublime is defined by what is beyond the brains ability to understand and configure not because it is enormous, or huge, or scarry and not because we can not imagine the interior mechanism of its working but because the configuration of neural networks has been sewn together by another set of cultural circumstances which have configured the objects and spaces of what we all consider is the real world. The neurobiologic sublime is then defined as those object, object and space/time relations that are beyond the brains ability to understand and appreciate and in the presence of which we are helpless. Jamison's post-modern object or space/time relations is thus sublime when a specific modernist subject observes it. Gilles Deleuze expresses it differently as this quote from Gregory Flaxman’s book The Brain is the Screen points out. “Deleuze often refers to Spinoza’s remarkable claim that we do not know what a body can do and it is precisely in this context that we can understand this sense of the unexplored potential, for the brain and body have been reduced to a neuro-network deflecting images from perceptions into actions, a regulated system of feedback that Bergson calls “sensory motor schema such as the rudiments of a dogmatic image of thought Deleuze identifies with Hollywood Cinema.(45) These thoughts are very significant in relation to “Blow Up” because on one hand they allude to a system of imaginary relations that create an imaginary or cinematic neurobiologic substrate and on the other hand they help us diagnose the modern schizophrenic observer. An observer who is the result of the mismatch of two independent long term memory systems which randomly substitute for the other and in the process disrupt perception. Whether we look at Thomas who disappears at the end of “Blow Up or Robert Michel in Julio Cortazar’s “ Las babas del diablo” , who looks at the sky though the image of a rectangle tacked to his ceiling, we are witnessing the effect of the fracture between these two non-congruent systems of memory and as a consequence the systems of representation they have coded for. The how and why of this process of mental destabilization is one of the subtexts of this essay and I think has something to do with the evolution of the construction of the perfect ergonomic object. When I say object I am talking about two parallel discourses that have evolved in tandem. On one hand the material object that has weight, perpetrates a force, can be authenticated by all the senses together, it can be touched, seen, tasted, heard and positioned according to the axis of the body. A camera would fit this description. On the other hand the image as it has evolved from the painting, lithography, photography, film and now virtual reality. For the purposes of this essay I would like to confine myself to that of the image and that of cinema most particularly. Cinema seen in this context becomes a stage in the process of the construction of the perfect ergonomic object. But what makes cinema so intriguing is that if we follow its genesis we must admit that one of the most important factors in this genealogy is how film deals with space and time. It is these new constructs of time and space that allow for a multiplicity of rearrangements of the real/virtual interface especially in fields like architecture, fashion, design, and art as well as city planning, social praxis, scientific research and political entanglements. Thus it is the experiments in time and space within the cinematic field that become folded and deranged as they are appropriated by other discourses that open up new possibilities and alignments for the information in those fields. New connections are built through the new possibilities of continuity. Thus a reverberation is felt along the entire network of disciplines that make up the plane of knowledge as the time/ space waveform travels throughout its volume.

Defining cinematic time and space

Deleuze divides cinematic history between two poles that are defined by classic cinema at one extreme and modern cinema at the other. What differentiates these two is how they deal with space and time not in the real world but as mental processes. How they in fact are linked to cognitive processes of the brain. Classic cinema is narrative cinema or the action film that has made Hollywood famous. As it description implies it is about a story. It is a sequence of events that are linked together with a beginning middle and end. An appreciating audience follows the lineage of these framed events together as one mass being. For Deleuze what defines the narrative or classic cinema is it relation to what he calls the sensory-motor loop. He proposes that every sensation is followed by a response or action. Visual perception is linked to muscular contractions and this is the quality of the movement image a term he borrows from Bergson, who he says never appreciated the time-image, his later designation, because the technology to make these kinds of films was not yet in existence. Deleuze defines the chronological demarcation line where there is a disruption in the chronology of the history of film as 1945 with Visconti’s film “Obsession”. (46) This work of art would change film forever. As a result of the destruction of the social and cultural fabric of Europe due to World War 2 a new kind of film came into being most characteristically defined by Italian Neo-Realism but later followed by the French Nouvelle Vague and to which avant-garde cinematic practice of the sixties was closely linked. In describing De Sica’s “Umberto D” he says “We run in fact into the principle of indeterminability, of indiscernability: we no longer know what is imaginary or real, physical or mental, in the situation, not because they are confused, but because we do not have to know and there is no longer even a place from which to ask. It is as if the real and the imaginary were running after each other, around a point of indiscernability” (47) Inherent in this description is one of the hallmarks of Deleuze’s description of modern cinema the interpenetration of the objective and the subjective to the denunciation and simultaneous reification of both in the creation of the purely imaginary. There is an indiscernible blending and this seamless dissolution is the result of what he characterizes as the breakdown of the sensory-motor schema and the creation of the time-image in modern cinema. Time images which activate modernist cinema are differentiated from movement image which are the hallmark of classic cinema by there disconnection of time from space. Time becomes independent of space because the temporal continuity of the reaction time of the body as it responds to a stimulus in the sensory-motor schema is broken. When time and space are split off from the normal linkages that connect events time and space are reconfigured under the abstract notion of “any-space-whatever.” Sonsigns and opsigns are the neologistic inventions he creates to delineate these differences. Both are the result of the creation of a meta cinema and a meta language with which to read and understand it. Sonsigns are pure aural sensations untethered to the physical body as are opsigns their visual counterpart. Images freed from the body can dance and wander no longer adhering to tonal rhythms “spectacular moments give way to the most banal ones without a sense of rational logic…..In the end the cinema trips into an ambiguity so overwhelming that the imaginary and real become indiscernible.” (48) What in the end distinguishes modern and classical cinema concerns the way modern cinema disconnects one from external physical reality and attempts to bridge the gap thereby created on a different level. “The real difference between classical and modern cinema is not that the latter lacks any global integrity. Rather, in classical cinema the gap is filled in by physical action within a plot, whereas in modern cinema it is filled in by different mental operations, which require the spectator’s active intellectual participation.” (49) One more point needs to clarified concerning Deleuze and film which will be helpful in our later analysis of Blow-up. Deleuze makes another distinction in his taxonomy of film history as he takes his idea of modern and classic cinema one step further and distinguishes between organic and crystalline cinema. He builds this other level of distinction through his idea of a crystal image of which opsigns are slivers. A crystal images is the point of indiscernability when there is a “coalescence of the actual image and the virtual image, the image with two sides, actual and virtual at the same time.” (50) The crystalline regime is made up of these kinds of images and is distinguished from its ontologic counterpart called organic cinema, from which it emerges in three ways. First crystalline regime evokes images as descriptions without there normal linkages to a motor event that would usually follow. Second the crystalline regime confounds the relation between the real and the imaginary and instead invokes the terms actual and virtual. Finally it develops narration out of anomalies, irregularities, and false continuity rather than the field of forces, oppositions and tensions that normally characterize the organic regime.

But these new definitions of time and space that were invented through cinema were not developed in a vacuum, as they were influenced in changes in the appreciation of time and space that were occurring concurrently in the fields of physics, mathematics, psychoanalysis and literature just to name a few. What is more cinematic ideas of time and space spilled over and leaked on to other related aesthetic discourses such as fashion, design, advertising, architecture, painting, sculpture, performance and theater. In the end the changes that we have just seen occurring in the cinematic field in the evolution from classic cinema to modern cinema are reverberating in these other fields as well. Take for instance the Le Corbousier’s, “La Fenetre de Longuer” the horizontal window that he fashioned after the camera shutter inspired by Dziga Vertov’s Kino Eye. Here the traditional vertical window of classic architecture is exchanged for a slice of a horizontal picture framing. No longer constrained by the linear sense of time in which the body stands like a monad to view the sky, the horizon and the earth the horizontal window a fractured almost digital experience where the viewer can walk back and forth in front of its aperture in order to experience an “anyplace any where” in “anytime”. As more of these cinematic time/places populate the visual field they will come to impact more and more the cognating population of viewers. Could the distraction that Vidler talks about in his Warped Space be in fact the result of a rearrangement of the pattern of neural networks in the brain corrupted, so to speak, by these temporal spatial relations. Could a conflict occur in the brain between two kinds of spatial and temporal neurobiologic configurations which disrupt attention leading to such conditions as Attention Deficit Disorder and Alzheimer’s Disease. Is Thomas’s condition, if I may call it that, one of temporal/spatial agnosia leading to a diagnosis mistakenly labeled as Schizophrenia. Or are we in fact prisoners of a process that in the end will give us superior intellect and allow us to multitask with great proficiency and remember things using superior strategies but for the moment makes us seem incompetent. This would seem somewhat at odds to my earlier discussion of cognitive and visual ergonomics. However understood as a process what one uncovers is that the progression towards the perfect object is a path not easily navigated.

The Conspecific Visual Niche

We share nature with all kinds of species. We know from ecology that each species survives because they have adapted themselves to a specific niche which decreases their competition for food and habitat with other species. Each niche is also made up of a set of visual signifiers, as well as auditory, olfactory and somaesthetic ones. I would like to limit my discussion here to those visual cues as it simplifies the argument and is more relevant to the visual arts which is the thesis of this essay. Each species niche is defined by a system of visual cues. For instance the cardinal's beak is shaped to crack open a certain size and textured seed which it can then eat. When building a nest it looks for certain types of materials and a specific habitat in which to build it. It uses visual cues when protecting its habitat and when looking for a mate. All together this assembly of visual information creates a visual map of the world for the cardinal. More importantly those visual cues are imbedded in the construction of the cardinals ecological niche, a conspecific ecologic niche because it is shared by all cardinals, and creates what I would like to refer as a "conspecific visual niche". This conspecific visual niche is the assemblage or web of visual signifiers that make up the cardinal’s visual universe and are an essential feature of his adaptation. Nature is made up of many species each with their own conspecific visual niches. Man is one of them and in a remote time his conspecific visual niche was woven into the great picture of nature. Nature is thus a tapestry of visual niches of which the domain of the human being is simply one of many circumscribed entities. Of course there are visual cues that are not uniquely conspecific and are shared by more than one species. For instance man can eat seeds and fruit that are eaten by other species. Many things can be shared because they possess multiple levels of meaning such as a flower, which is pollen to a bee is a beautiful and romantic thing for a human. Human beings have created and adapted to a "stratigraphic hierarchy" of visual relations which we are calling naturescape, urbanscape, mediascape, and cyberscape. As their names imply each refer to a specific set of signifiers. Naturescape as the name implies is the all the visual signifiers that are naturally occurring to which man must adapt. Urbanscape refers to the set of circumstances that are organized around the city that accommodate a population of individuals living and working together their roads, buildings and sewer systems. Mediascape refers to network of signifiers produced by society which are communicated through cinema, television and advertising. Cyberscape is defined as a whole host of informational technologies of which the world wide web is one. As we move from naturescape to urbanscape to mediascape to cyberscape what we see is the construction of a more rarefied and refined conspecific human visual niche. We share nature with the animal kingdom but very few animals including the smartest primates can surf the internet. Pigeons can adapt themselves to a building but unless they are specifically trained they have difficulty avoiding large glass windows. And this brings up another interesting fact. That as we move up along this axis of this ever more refined system of relations towards specifically human information systems we also find that vision becomes woven into a set of technologies that extend these perceptual capabilities while at the same time further refining their information content.. For example the differences seen between the seventeenth-century observer and a twentieth-century are the resultant of this process. The ontogeny of technological apparatus and its assemblage into systems of visuality, how they are linked to neuroperceptual processes, marks the maturation of a system of visual relations that defines an “ever more” refined conspecific visual landscape; one that is contrived and constructed for the idiosyncrasies of the human visual apparatus and that has been invented with the human visual processing apparatus in mind. These technological devices, invented in the scientific laboratory and originally limited to the context of parlor games, mapped out a seductive visual space that hailed and roused a waiting nervous system. "Although 'set to work' may sound inappropriate in a discussion of optical devices, the apparently passive observer of the stereoscope and phenakistiscope, by virtue of specific physiological capacities, was in fact made into a producer of forms of verisimilitude. And what the observer produced again and again, was the effortless transformation of the dreary parallel images is far less important than the inexhaustible routine of moving from one card to the next and producing the same effect, repeatedly, mechanically. And each time, the mass-produced and monotonous cards are transubstantiated into a compulsory and seductive vision of the "real." (52) The artificially induced seductivity of the stereoscope which Crary suggests is similar to a Rieman space would later be conflated and enlarged in cinema as the sole observer was replaced by an audience and signifiers became supersignifiers. As audiences became used to the cinematic experience and acclimated, as a result of suspended belief, to the idea of substituting the real with the imaginary, the distinctions that separated the two also began to fade. This is the point where we meet Thomas. A product of the construction of a twentieth century observer, he can no longer discern the real and the imaginary which leads to what Roger Callois has termed "legendary psychasthenia." (53) In this context, this term references Thomas's elision not with nature, but with the mediated context of supersignifiers that is compounded by his job as a photographer and his close relation to the product of his labor, the photograph. He has two disjointed forms of memory, one that is a function of his real life experiences, and the other that the physical archive based on his own production of photographic images. "Blow up" is about the process of Thomas's disconnection from reality and his own body as the vividness of the seductive landscape of the "constructed imaginary" is preferred over the real.

Avant-Garde Cinema as a self-reflexive exposure of self

"The often unacknowledged aspiration of the American avant-garde film has been the cinematic reproduction of the human mind." (54)
Avant-garde film, as a reaction to narrative film, is usually based upon strategies of interpretation and the unpacking of meaning. Narrative film, with its discourse linked to the spectators' perceptual and cognitive inclinations and habits, is the one most often adopted by Hollywood and is closely aligned to Deleuze’s category of classic film (55) Avant-garde film has instead linked itself to what Stan Brakhage calls "a naive vision," one that is outside the code-based models of understanding adopted by narrative film where meaning is constructed and inferred from a display of random and novel visual stimuli and as such is closely linked with Deleuze’s category of modern cinema(56). Narrative film is made of a series of images that are linked by certain culturally non-specific viewing conventions and techniques, such as shot-reverse shot, fades and bleeds, which remain hidden in the body of the film. Avant-garde film, on the other hand, investigates and displays the nature of the process of production in order to expose the film as a film rather than reality. We see the scratches in the film surface and unedited, raw footage. We meet the sound engineer and interview the director, thus demystifying the process of cinematic creation. We see the cuts and edits as abrupt changes of vision and scene. We see remnants of avant-garde cinema today in the work of Dogma who use little or non-studio lighting and use video cameras of poor quality in which we can see the grain of the film. Recently Memento a film about the loss of short-term memory used the editing technique itself to express and define what it was like to experience memory loss. Again we are reminded of Deleuze who suggests that the self-reflexive film is an important quality of what he calls the “Crystalline Schema”. The audience experienced an analogous process as the sequence of cuts and visual jumps allowed them to feel as if they to were part of that experience. It is precisely through this process of the deconstruction of narrative conceits that the nature of cinematic experience shifts away from the director/creator and towards a cinema of audience. It is in the cinema of audience that we can fully understand avant-garde cinema and the cognitive praxis that identifies it. This argument is strangely reminiscent of the post-structuralist argument of the nature of the experience of cinema in which the screen is acting somewhat analogously to a Lacanian mirror.(57) Each viewer brings to the theater a different set of culturally informed values through which to monitor this visual experience. No longer bound by a constricted narrative with a finite meaning in a finite context, avant-garde cinema allows for a differential scanning of the filmic sensations, such that each viewer constructs an idiosyncratic meaning from a unique disparate set of stimuli emanating form the screen. Fred Camper, in "The End to Avant-Garde Film," states it succinctly. "Avant-garde film addresses each viewer as a unique individual, speaks to him in isolation from the crowd, invites him to perceive the film according to his own particular experience and perception, to see it differently from the way the viewer seated next to him would." (58) But the extent of this difference and individuality is limited to a certain context, a certain transhistorical discourse which has been built around avant-garde cinema. For the semiologic discourse of avant-garde cinema is not arbitrary. Rather, a cult of signification has been created in a radical context within the confines of an assortment of aesthetic signifiers. Avant-garde cinema developed with the micro-cultural context of Minimalism. "In fact, we can think of Structural film as the avant-garde's minimal strain of film making, equivalent to minimalism in painting and sculpture. And viewers who are familiar with the concerns of the visual arts during this period can make sense of minimal films like Eureka with strategies similar to those viewers use to make sense of minimal art."(59) The signifiers of avant-garde cinema are part of a network of signifiers and their aesthetic relations are bound together by, in this case, a Structuralist/Minimalist field. But the importance of avant-garde cinema as a model for cognition goes further than simply an edifice with which to define individual creativity and construct subjectivity. As we saw with our example of Memento it can in fact represent cognition itself. This is important of “Blow Up” which although having some characteristics of narrative film is a non-narrative one as well. Avant-garde cinema with its techniques of flashback, multiple and parallel complex narrative structure and close-up mimic many strategies used by the mind and the brain. In fact the minds ability to use remembering in telling a story, to focus on one cello player in a symphonic orchestral performance and to concentrate on one individual in a crowd are closer to techniques one finds in avant-garde cinema and non-narrative especially as it grew out of sixties cinema. Avant-garde cinema’s expansion into cybernetic sculpture, Les Levine’s, “Contact: A Cybernetic Sculpture”, Frank Gillette “Wipe Cycle”, kinetic light images such as Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern’s “Circles” and mutimedia-projection pieces like those of Stan VanDerBeeks attest to this radical position of interacting directly with the brain. “Blow Up” use of flashback is in the form of the flash-return in which Thomas returns over and over to the same place in the real to revisit the events of his initial experience in his memory. These self-reflexive paradigms realized here in cinema like flash back, montage and telescoping find their analogous structures in the cultural backdrop in general and in architecture specifically for instance in the transparent architecture of John Haydek. As such they create strategies that become imbedded in inscribed structures and cognitive strategies of information flow in the brain like feedback and feedforward neural networks, parallel processing and remapping to be discussed shortly. Thomas use of the magnifying glass to inspect the photographs and his use of the camera and enlarging device to investigate his own photographs is a metaphor for “Blow Up” as cinema in investigating the nature of the new observer of cinematic experience and memory. In this way this film is truly avant-garde.

Aesthetics and the visual landscape

The visual landscape is an historical stage in which objects and their ideological counterparts are arranged. Aesthetics has two “modus operandi.” Firstly, it constructs what is outside the brain into packages of information that can be understood rapidly and efficiently. It does so by creating and recreating networks which can be appreciated ensemble and whose assemblage is dictated by the proclivities of the neuro-biologic apparatus. That is to say that the connections between objects, their relations and the spaces they occupy are arranged spatially and temporally according to the prescribed architectonic arrangements of neural networks in the brain. The history of aesthetics is partly an unconscious dialogue between the evolving neuro-biologic structures and the mutating cultural/visual landscape. In this way aesthetics can be seen to be "ergonomically" activating. Aesthetics constructs and organizes the visual landscape according to prescribed rules that are tuned to specific abilities of the human nervous system, allowing it to respond with greater efficiency. As we have already seen the nervous system has been sculpted by certain political, historical, psychological and social relations that form homologous interdigitated ensembles of coherent meaning. Aesthetic production being as it is an output of that inscribed neurobiologic structure will reflect that condition. Thereafter that very production will provide the scaffolding for the next neural cultural inscription. Another reading of the history of art is its’ long term effect of reordering objects, space and time according to the rules of visual and cognitive ergonomics; rules that define an ontogeny of interactions between the evolution of those objects and spaces and the evolution of the nervous system. Secondly, it creates variability in the visual landscape. New forms are constantly emerging as artists reconsider known forms in new contexts as well as creating new objects. As we will see later, this idea of a "variable discourse" is fundamental to the developing brain and forms one of the linkages to the reception of avant-garde cinema. The visual landscape especially as it becomes encoded into the cinematic field is the product of historical debates as to what deserves attention; culture and ideology can be critical. We have just emerged from a period in which ideology played a fundamental role in its construction and we have now entered into a time in which issues of gender and race are playing even greater roles in constituting what receives attention. Notice the plethora of shows in which artists from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries are contributing. This is more than just a fad but is rather a result of the globalization of art and the desire to expand the vocabulary of the aesthetic formation away from its historical Western-European dogmatic past. It is through the historical discourse of aesthetics and its sub-discourses of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, advertising and media (including MTV) that culture and ideology affect the visual landscape.

Visual and Cognitive ergonomics

"Man sets up the world toward himself and delivers Nature over to himself...........Where nature is not satisfactory to man's representation, he reframes or redisposes it. Man produces new things that are lacking to him. ..............The Open becomes an object and is thus twisted around toward the human being." (60)

"This initial paradox cannot but produce others. Visible and mobile my body is a thing among things; it is caught in the fabric of the world and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself. Things are an annex or prolongation of itself." (61)

But what is cognitive or visual ergonomics? The word ergonomics comes from the Greek words ergon, to work, and nomos, pertaining to a set of laws. Ergonomics is concerned with designing the most efficient and physically effective interface between humans and their workstations. In creating an ergonomic design, the object, system, or environment should be designed according to the physical and mental characteristics of its human users. (62) In its early manifestations ergonomically astute designers limited themselves to the proportions of the musculoskeletal system. Designers have also realized the importance of crafting spaces that are ergonomically designed for the senses such as sound and sight. And recently cognitive ergonomics, which takes into account perceptual and cognitive strategies in the design of computer-worker interfaces, has come to be investigated. For the purposes of this discussion I would like to make the following distinctions. Although cognitive ergonomics evolved from visual ergonomics it is differentiated from it. Visual ergonomics is a term that defines a composite of strategies through which nature is represented in the non-plastic art and is reformed and organized according to implicit and explicit knowledge of neural processing whereas cognitive ergonomics relates to the way that artificial information is reconfigured for the process of cognition occurring in the brain. Because as we have seen previously persistent strategies of representation found in painting and drawing continue to be important in newer strategies such as photography, cinema and new media visual ergonomics continues to operate presently along side cognitive ergonomics many time serving as its foundation and at others serving as its schemata. Cognitive ergonomics is especially important in the creation of virtual reality programs as the need for information parsimony is the greatest. In the desire to create a sense of real space virtually with the extant technology now at hand it is more important than ever to know the specific proclivities of the nervous system so that programs can use the limited technology to the greatest effect conserving weight and space in these applications. As cinema exists midway between these newer applications and early aesthetic forms and only recently been joined to new media applications I would like to continue to use the term visual ergonomics in the following discussion keeping the above discussion in mind.

Networks and the Brain

Before going on with this explanation I think it is necessary to reveal some more contemporary issues of neuroscience. ( I have been trying to expose the reader slowly to this material in specific contexts to maximize understanding)) An intricate web of genetically engineered, synchronous and diachronous events controls the in utero development of the fetal brain. Through DNA instructed timed encoded directives (the process of heterochrony) neural development proceeds in an orderly fashion resulting in what is referred to as the primary repertoire, a degenerative and variable nervous system at birth. (63) 'Degenerative' in this context means that there is a vast and varied population of nervous cells (neurons) with a multiplicity of possible ranges for stimulation. This has two major consequences; more then one combination of neuronal groups or networks can lead to an specific output and a single group can participate in more than one kind of signal functioning. “ a conceptual network ( a neural network coding for an abstract thought) would be a large network involving broad areas of unimodal and polymodal association cortex. Because it would include many parts of many networks with common connections it would be not only by widely connected but also robust.” (64) Variable refers to the fact that this genetically proscribed nervous system is the result of a genetic assembly of structural components which themselves are the result of selective changes occurring over the history of that species. “Evolution suggests that these sense organs specify internal states that reflect past experiences of our ancestral history. Once we are born these ancestral circuits ( comprising the inherited functional architecture of the brain, are further enriched by our experience as individuals.” (65). That genetic code and the primary repertoire it has designed contains many vestigial remnants of evolutionary experimentation that are no longer significant for the modern human. Thus neurons that code for a prehensile tail used by our primate ancestors is no longer relevant to the life of a modern human. We no longer hang or swing from branches in the trees. Yet at birth neurons that could code for the perceptual and motor perceptions that are connected to the tail hypothetically could be present. A variable nervous system is primed to adapt to any number of environmental conditions that it could hypothetically confront within certain limits. Those limitations are the result of two kinds of developments. On the one hand there are limits of the neurophysiologic and neuroanatomic systems themselves. Sensory systems for instance are limited as to what they can respond to. On the other side of the equation there are limitations as to what is possible to be created given the possible technologies available. The history of early man is a testament to this fact. The level of sophistication in tool making limited the kind of stone tools that could be constructed with a kind of revolution taking place between 0.3 and 0.12 myr BP when they learned to obtain a flakes of flint from designated cores of stone called the Levallois Technique. (66) The fact, for instance, that the appearance of objects have evolved over time and that cities look different because the architectural styles of the buildings have changed does not mean that we will not recognize them. Of course we know that we do. Perhaps as we have already discussed our perceptions of the same object may change with time but in general we recognize a fork as a fork. I think that this fact has important implications on how the brain is set up.

As was noted before the visual cortex is divided up into regions which code for specific kinds of information like color, form and movement. Vision requires first a parcellization of visual information and the distribution of these individual qualities to their respective areas for analysis before they are undergo another level of divergence to association areas for further analysis before undergoing binding. For instance spatial coding is done in the parietal lobe especially area PG whereas object recognition accomplished down stream in the temporal cortex including prestriate and inferior temporal areas. The implication of this fact is that all objects whether real or imaginary are first broken down into fragments before they are reconstituted. This fragmentation has implications for how the objects are reconstituted and the possibility that the fragments themselves can develop their own relations such is the case with the fetish. Although the appearance of objects in their full and whole form display much variation when they are broken down into fragments, especially at a size below the visual systems ability to make fine discriminations at the level of form, movement and color much of this variation dissipates. In addition their reformulation into perceived whole forms becomes more an issue of temporal codes that connect dissimilar forms and disparate areas of the brain together. “In other words the making of images is a spatially parcellated process. But since our experiences appear integrated to our mind rather than parcellated, we must consider how integration occurs. Our idea is that timing, that is, synchronization of separate activities, plays an essential role in integration.” (67)

Like the memories in the brain cultured memory system is a recatagorical system. New configurations are bound to preexisting forms or inform preexisting groups of forms and are negotiated through these historical forms just as new memories are compared to long-term memory in perception. A variable nervous system has much flexibility and plasticity which allows it to mold itself through the manipulation of populations of cells, different distributions of inputs and outputs can result through the synchronous firings of differing populations of cells, to changing environmental contingencies. This primary repertoire is primed to receive information from most environments. Neurons and networks form a vast array of spatial connections. But even though the brain has a vast amount of potential at this point it must await directives in the form of organized perceptions to actualize its potential. The helplessness of the newborn attests to this. Notice I used the word organized sensation. The world is a vast array of organized information; a huge repository of inscribed cultural memory that sculpts the primary repertoire into the secondary repertoire. That array is more then spatial it is temporal as well. As we will see explicit and implicit temporal relations exist in the configuration of real and imaginary objects and to the real and virtual spaces they inhabit. The environment that the brain encounters sculpts the brain according to the brain's inherent susceptibilities of stimulation. We know about the eye’s ability to perceive the visual spectrum but not ultraviolet radiation. At higher levels of cognitive function and at more abstract layers of information the brain also experiences certain constraints. Our previous example of the sublime object of regard such as Marcel Duchamp, R. Mutt seen by viewers in the early nineteenth century might be an example of the limitations of the brain in reference to abstract thinking. Although these higher functions of abstract thinking develop later, think for a moment of the late arrival of language learning in the infant and are in fact the consequence of the developing organisms relation with to the environment it is the micro-architectonic structure of the primary repertoire that allow the brain to have a degree of informational susceptibility. (68) This occurs as a result of a process termed selectivity and "selection occurs among populations of synapses, strengthening some synapses and weakening others, a process which leads to the formation of the secondary repertoire. The ultimate consequence being that certain circuits and neuronal groups in such repertoires are more likely to be favored over others in future encounters with signals of similar types." (69) The outside world presents vast arrays of variability to the developing child. Cultural discourse is involved in a complex feedback and feed-forward looping system with specific political, social, political and technologic relations that transform it and the same time are changed by its transformed meaning. For just like in the brain different relations that form networks contribute different levels of energy to it depending on the specific context they are operating in. At certain times different cues are earmarked as important and others unimportant. Those assigned as important are repeated and appear over and over again and become involved with other systems of networks that share common heritages or meaning. As a result these "degenerate stimuli" form nodes in a complex array of meaning systems. This has some implications for the brain that builds its networks through a process of neuronal group selection. First neural networks stimulated over and over again by these specific repeating stimuli undergoes transformation through a redistribution of their synaptic weights and begin to operate faster and more efficiently. Secondly the repetition itself becomes folded into other repetitions of other networks where they share a common stimuli or context in which they are displayed. Thirdly they are woven into a tapestry of historical and genealogic unconscious and implicit relations that create cultural memory. Finally these networks attract other immature neurons, called pluri-potential neurons that are transformed in the context of this information and take part in the network. This helps explain the brain’s exuberant growth during early development. This process is similar to the activation of the beta lymphocyte by antigenic influences. As a result the network becomes larger and more complex. On the other hand those networks that are not repeatedly stimulated do not attain a level of efficient firing to allow them to compete with those neurons that are repeatedly stimulated and tend to be crowded out and undergo a process referred to as cell death or apoptosis. “One particularly interesting aspect of neural development is that the brain overproduces neurons, possibly by a factor of two, and the extra cells are lost by a process of cell death. Similarly, a large proportion of the cortical synapses are lost during development perhaps as many as 50 percent.” (70) The color category red may stimulate neurons sensitive to this particular wavelength. Even though on some rare occasions individual neurons could serve as units of selection, in actual fact groups of neurons provide the sufficient basis for mapping. The repetitive nature of red things in the environment stimulates those neuron groups repetitively. Repetitive stimulation leads to greater efficiency in the neuronal groups facilitating action potentials and later aiding in the release of synaptic chemical messengers which transmit the information to the next neuron. The color red colors things: things that have shape, that move, and which have texture. Notice that we don't see things but categories of things. The real is parceled into bites of different categories to which a pre-programmed brain (gross functionality) is tuned. Some of these relations occur synchronously over and over again. Consequently, groups of neurons in the visual part of the brain known as the visual cortex are repetitively stimulated together. In this case, neural networks are called local maps because these neurons are tethered together in the local area of the visual cortex.

The construction of local mapping conforms to what occurs in a general way on the outside. I say in general way because what is coded is in fact is only the salient features of the external world. “The correspondence between the structure of the neural activity pattern in early sensory cortices and the structure of the stimulus that evoked the pattern can be quite striking.” (71) The color red and its associated object relations like movement and shape are linked to other sensations as well, such as taste and smell. The resulting maps are projected upon one another through a process called reentry. Interneurons tune groups of specified neurons synchronously through such methods as oscillatory potentials of 40 HZ. “One possible solution to this conjunctional problem is to superimpose a temporal dimension to the spatially segregated, but anatomically connected, functional events in the thalamocortical system. The addition of a temporal component to the topographic representations of the sensory areas could sustain an indefinitely large number of representations.” (72) The mapping becomes truly global when desire and other emotions are linked into the map(s) through the hypothalamus and followed by thalamocortical outputs to the precentral gyrus leading to action. What is crucial is that the rules that determine connections between individual neurons goes for networks and maps as well.. Amplified maps develop efficient connection between their constituent neurons and this in turn gives them an advantage when competing for information with other networks. Poorly amplified maps cannot compete as effectively and in the struggle for neural space find themselves at a disadvantage. This becomes important when one considers the relationship between organic/real stimuli and those that are artificial and phatic. Doesn’t it make sense that these phatic stimuli as they are engineered to capture attention, are mechanically reproduced throughout the visual landscape and within the context of modern society have been ordained as of crucial importance would create and amplify neural maps more efficiently and in the end would dominate the neural space of memory in the brain. That as these phatic signifiers form networks with other phatic signifiers to produce super networks... The question then becomes, “What about the other side of this equation?” Just like the thalamus of the midbrain sends inputs to the cerebral cortex, the cerebral cortex in turn sends back messages to it. Are the inputs from the environment which sculpt the brain followed by outputs from the brain that sculpt the environment in ways that are determined by a set of a highly determined strategies used by neuronal networks? Does the brain change the environment to produce a kind of environmental memory that will create contingencies that will activate neuronal networks more efficiently? Is a visual landscape full of phatic signifiers a kind of historical map that denotes a series of interactions between visually significant ergonomically efficient sensory packets and the developing brain? Is the process of neural selection sped up as a result of this system of culturally derived remnants interacting with successive generations of unformed neural tissues? The construction of the new observer, in this case of Thomas, is the result of technological, sociological and cultural vectors that modify the inhabited conspecific visual landscape and recursively feedbacks upon the brain. The radical shift in the visual landscape of modernism delineates a radical shift in which the observer "increasingly had to function within the disjunct and defamiliarized urban spaces, the perceptual and temporal dislocations of railroad travel, telegraphy, industrial production and flows of typographic and visual information." (73) This quote served as an explanation for the psychological consequences of the reformulation of the city at the end of the nineteenth century which heralded Modernism but the same could be said for the radical changes we see today as a consequence of new technology. These radical shifts in temporal and spatial coordinates create changes well beyond superficial appearance They imbed new temporal and spatial machines into the cultural and visual landscape. They are added to a succession of such temporal and spatial remnants left over from past experimentations creating new foldings of time and space; many times making the systems that they came into contact with more efficient. As such they become the backdrop upon which objects and their relations are perceived and cognated. To continue with the argument of this text they have consequences for the developing brain by creating new patterns and connections at the neural synaptic level. This in the end could have two hypothetical effects. On the one hand it could create a mind which could learn information more quickly. What ever its cause children’s ability to operate computers and understand computer logic usually outdistances there parents. Is this because of early experience and practice or is the logic of the way a computer is set up more in tune with the more contemporary brain and mind? On the other hand it has created an observer subject to distraction, displacement and disjunction.

Perceptual and Motor Memory: The Perception-Action Cycle

There are so many definitions of memory that any one definition is bound to be deficient. This very fact is in itself a proof that we can only guess at what it is. However if I am to continue my exploration of the twentieth century observer I must first come up with a reasonable definition and then proceed with analysis of the way the very territory of memory is the site where transformation of the observer takes place. For the first part of my analysis I would like to rely on some of the definitions and research of Joaquin M. Fuster in his book Memory in the Cerebral Cortex . (74) On pages seven and eight of this essay I introduced under the heading the “Taxonomy of photo-cinematic memory” the terms phyletic and episodic types of memory to refer to different types of artificially produced images. I would like to again delineate these types of memory under the rubric of phyletic and individual memory. (75) As stated before phyletic memory is the state of neural network configuration at birth and as such represents the endpoint of a multitude of evolutionary experiments which directly affecting the genetic code. This phyletic memory allows the brain to distinguish the elementary sensory features of the world that, as we will see later, are essential for the construction of the multitude of neural networks essential for individual memory. But there is a motor phyletic memory as well. Just as the animal is able to sense elementary features of the environment it is also able to perform a variety of motor behaviors that may be complex though stereotypical. This phyletic memory is similar to what we called the primary repertoire. Through a process of neural selectionism, based on a model first introduced by Hebb, synchronous converging stimuli alter membrane potentials of neurons and groups of neurons allowing them to fire together with greater ease thus creating connections between them. Neurons that fire together wire together. Some of these connections will be purely spatial but others will be temporal and consist of recurrent and reentrant circuits. Certain groups not so stimulated will undergo apoptosis or cell death. In the end a secondary repertoire will be formed consisting of these neurons and their cell assemblies that best resemble those stimuli that are most recurring in the world that they are born into.

What is important for us here is that through this process of neuronal group selection, or some analogous system, the sensory and motor systems of the brain, which in their early stages of development were primitive and fairly distinct, become linked up as a contiguous system of inputs and outputs, convergent and divergent information bundles, called the perception-action cycle. This cycle is made up of two systems which are in constant communication with each other and are identified by well established cortical substrates although for motor memory the situation is somewhat more complex. The evidence for localization of perceptual memory in the posterior part of the brain including the occipital, parietal and temporal regions is well established. From a neurophysiologic point of view, where functions are stressed above strict anatomical demarcation, these areas are referred to as the primary sensory cortex, the peristriatal association areas and the distant posterior association areas in which multimodal sensations are combined. On the motor side the situation is more complex. First of all motor memories are inextricably bound to such things as kinesthetic sensations. Secondly the source of any action is not linked to a specific stimuli, except in the limited case of a reflex arc, and is instead emanates from a very abstract set of conditions. Thirdly motor actions are not as well localized as purely perceptual phenomena and are the concerted result of other stimulus like that coming from the cerebellum that modifies the outgoing impulses. Having said this for the sake of this conversation I would like to limit our discussion of the seat of motricity to the frontal cortex specifically to the areas of the prefrontal cortex, the premotor cortex and primary cortex. These systems operate as large interconnected neural networks that are linked to each other. The prefrontal cortex represents almost one-third of the frontal cortex and is the last of the neocortical levels to reach maturity. It plays a role in the temporal organization of behavior. It has been called the organ of creativity because it is important in planning prospective, future actions. It is also important in short-term sensory memory because what we do in the future is so much based on what and how we did it in the past. “The two sets of prefrontal neurons and their respective networks would represent two mutually complementary and interactive representations-one retrospective, the short-term memory of the cue, and the other prospective, the short-term memory of the forthcoming response. The second would be what Ingvar has called a “memory of the future.” (76) The premotor cortex is interposed between the prefrontal cortex and the primary motor cortex our next area of discussion. As such it acts as an intermediary in the discharge of motor set, the series of linked motor subprograms that together constitute an action. Premotor neurons encode motor acts rather than actual individual movements. They are interested, metaphorically speaking, in such things as the coordinates of space that the movement will take place in, the sequence of motor acts and finally the actual goal. The primary motor cortex, our last category, is no longer thought to be the defined by a set a genetically proscribed somatotopically organized cortex in which a specific area of the cortex controls a specific muscle group, Instead recent research has fostered the conclusion that instead there is tremendous functional overlap and distribution where somatotopy is defined by neuronal innervation of a group of synergic muscles. (77)

These different systems are all arranged together in an hierarchical arrangement. Perception begins in the primary cortices with the particulars of sensory analysis and continues into the peristriate and association areas following a gradient of ever more synthetic and abstract types of information processing while the motor hierarchy displays the opposite pattern beginning with the most abstract temporal based information in the prefrontal areas followed by the particulars of movement in the premotor area and finally resulting in the microgenesis of action in the motor cortices. Yet in spite of their arrangement the interaction of each subsystem to itself and to the larger system as a whole is far from linear and can in fact by overlapping, eccentric and bi-directional depending on synchronous and parallel processing strategies. (78)

Neural Networks and memory, building a global apparatus

“My basic claim is that a memory is a cortical network, an array of connective links formed by experience between neurons of the neocortex, and that the function of cortical neurons in memory derives exclusively from their being part of such networks…At all levels and for all kinds of networks, the information networks contain is defined by the structure of each network- that is, by its neuronal elements and the connections that link them.” (78)

The visual apparatus, the eye, visual cortex and brain, are subject to the same connectionist model as the rest of the brain. One of the problems for this model is how a parceled input of the external reality is integrated into the seamless consciousness we appreciate. The brain is not instructed by specific objects in the environment nor do we hold on to the memories of every object and every possible orientation of those objects. Instead we remember categories of “characteristics” of objects such as colors, lines, corners, and movement. I have already explained how information from external reality is broken up into parcels of characteristics by the visual cortex and undergo various levels of integration as they are processed.(79) But these areas like V3, V4, and V5 are connected to each other through interneurons at all levels of the cortex. Through a process of reentry, the perception of the world is tethered together through a process called binding into the “seamlessness” of consciousness. Ernst Poppel divides binding into three categories. At the primary level of visual binding, spatial binding of identical features in different regions of the visual field occurs, and may be a prerequisite to establish contours and surfaces (topological primitives). The second kind of binding within a sensory modality deals with the binding of different qualities. This is linguistically based and presumably the system must determine which qualities are bound together. This second level of binding is dependent upon an a priori internal representation of the perceived object to which the perceived object is compared. The third level deals with the binding of information coming from different modalities which occur in the same scene. (80) Although different kinds of internalized temporal relations are hypothesized for each of these categories organized through reentry by certain kinds of oscillatory potentials and excitability cycles, another explanation may be found in the way the "real/virtual interface" is constructed to create "temporal dispositions" that favor different kinds of binding. I think Poppel’s description could be read in a different way. Space and time as it is imbedded and forms the real/virtual interface configure neural networks through the process of neuronal group selection during critical periods of development which facilitate binding strategies in the nervous system. In turn the nervous system then feeds back on the world further organizing the dispositions of objects and object relations through the use of aesthetic codes both in terms of their spatial and temporal relations. Art and artists as they mediate the aforementioned immaterial social, political, aesthetic, historic, psychological and economic relations in the form of architecture, painting, design and fashion are constantly experimenting with time and space. This experimentation can create new kinds of time and space relations some of which bind the fragments of the real/virtual interface in unique ways. Like evolution only certain of these experiments will persist. In this case those that have special spatial and temporal qualities that allow more efficient linkages between neurons or neural networks; those that make the nervous system more efficient and more complex. This double meaning is the essence of visual ergonomics. On one hand the system, meaning the brain and the world, develop conditions which facilitate the creation of network relations that make them fire more efficiently and thus increase their selectivity and on the other allow them to be connected to many levels of meaning both explicit and implicit. What this complexity means for the brain is that each neuronal networks will develop spatial and temporal configurations that allow them to interact with many more neural networks both locally and globally creating meta-networks. What this means for the world is that the objects, and their relations, which will be integrated into huge matrices of meaning through multiplexing and folding with other objects. That these new associations can through the process of neuronal group selection sculpt and facilitate the brains innate capabilities in some cases actually increases its potential for thinking and acting. Oscillatory potentials exist as implicit relations between objects in the world at their more abstract level. In our discussion of the role of the frontal lobe we saw that it is in the prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobe that abstract thinking and timing occur. These oscillatory potentials could be the product of linguistic or aesthetic codes. Language imposes meter, grammar and logic whereas aesthetics imposes formalistic and factographic structures upon the world we perceive.

When we look at the central nervous system we are impressed by its hierarchical and non- hierarchical processing mechanisms. That is to say that when we look at the visual cortex and its surrounding association areas we are looking at the a system that goes from a concrete topographically mapped system to one which is abstract and non-topographic. I described just the opposite situation for the motor system as it goes the abstract to the particular. As Fuster states, “ The networks of phyletic memory and the lowest and most primitive components of individual memory networks…..can be viewed as topologic feature maps, in that their neurons encode sensory and motor feature. At higher levels of individual motor memory, however, the concept of feature becomes progressively more dependent on idiosyncratic connections and less on concrete physical parameters.” (81) Could realty be constructed in a similar way with discrete layers of relations imbedded and subsumed into each other. We all know this is true as in the physical world there are concrete and abstract relations. Aesthetics is one means to form these abstract connections through the organization and linking together of raw sensations into images, figures, patterns and eventually into concrete lumps of signification. Aesthetic paradigms are reflected in the way the "real" looks and how the objects in the "real" are organized in the construction of the visual landscape. Each aesthetic paradigm organizes different sets of partial relations into wholes that appear stylistically different and are therefore recognizable as different. This is a kind of binding, similar to the one we spoke of already in the brain and it too creates a series of world pictures that get woven into each other. Could these two kinds of binding be working together to make the brain a more efficient machine? Have these two types of binding evolved together in tandem with strategies of aesthetic configuration organizing the world in ways that connect to possible neurobiological strategies either latent, part of phyletic memory, or manifest, the result of neuronal group selection and vice versa? In spite of all the artistic research done in the sixties and seventies on time space relations in art we still pay too much attention to spatial configurations when we talk about aesthetics and its determining factors. Objects and their relations have temporal signatures which are tethered to aesthetic temporal signatures that define for instance the different periods of art from say Romanticism through Impressionism through Constructivism through Surrealism through Abstract Expressionism through Pop Art and into Post-Modernism. Aesthetics configures implicit rules that tether different objects on a canvas through, for instance, viewing strategies and linguistic codes that act similarly to reenty in the brain allowing the fragments or images of the work to be appreciated together as one whole or differentially as a network of pulsating styles sometimes referred to as bricolage. I would like to call this process “matching reentry”. The brain therefore has specific cognitive strategies it uses based on its’ neuro-anatomic and neuro-physiologic possibilities that aesthetics as it constructs the world takes into account either by chance or explicit instructions. As the process is bi-directional aesthetics may then help configure the brain as it affects strategies of binding through temporal signatures.

Just as sight is restricted to certain specific wavelengths of the visible spectrum that are the result of the specific anatomic-physiologic proclivities of a rod-and-cone based retina, the brain also has certain predispositions and limitations due to its anatomic-physiologic characteristics. The primary repertoire and phyletic memory are the latest developmental stage of the metastable process of evolution. As such the spatial configuration of neurons across the cerebral cortex are fixed along prescribed horizontal and longitudinal axis. For the most part the human brain at this state is a huge feature detector awaiting directions from the world as to how to link these fragments into sensible wholes. (Of course this is different for different species in which for instance running at birth is essential for their survival) Temporality plays a role in this process as the primary repertoire matures into the secondary repertoire. However certain kinds of temporality may be more efficient than others in the transfer of information. There are limits to the temporal coding patterns in the central nervous system as certain frequencies are preferred over others. “These findings suggest that 40-HZ oscillatory activity is not only involved in prmary sensory processing per se, but forms part of a time conjunction or binding property that amalgamates sensory events occurring in perceptual time quanta into a single experience. Indeed 40 Hz oscillator activity is prevalent in the mammalian CNS, as seen at both single-cell and multicellular levels. This oscillatory activity… has been viewed as a possible mechanism for the conjunction of spatially distributed visual sensory activity or multiregional cortical binding.” (82) Could this suggest that certain external relations could be coded more efficiently if they came close to matching the brain’s inherent temporality ? For instance those that are already prefigured to “link into” this 40 Hz oscillatory potential. Aesthetics that is ergonomically entrained may reflect these neural dispositions. Today aesthetics may in fact reflect a transhistorical discourse which concerns the construction of a visual landscape, real or imaginary, which is maximally organized to capture attention and transmit information from outside to inside the brain. One must not think this history a series of smooth transitions or a “smooth ride”. Aesthetic history is rather a series seizures and disruptions that manifest themselves as experimentations gone awry. Test tubes that blew up in the face of their practitioners. Holwegs, to use the German word for paths that lead to abrupt ends in the nowhere place of the forest, that left artists and their contemporaries unknown and destitute. But in the process these experiments left a residue that combined over time with already known established forms creating new ones that as a result of these new combinations were able to configure the nervous system in more complex and efficient ways. We have been calling these stimuli “visually or cognitive ergonomic”. Perhaps what Paul Virilio calls the phatic image, an image that makes you want to look at it, is related to this concept. That the abstract relations that signify high order cognitive function may in fact be the result of developmental processes which inscribes aesthetically contrived relations, as they exist in the world of objects as “reentrant configurations”, upon the brain. In this way the “reentrantly configured environment” would have to undergo little transformation from its abstract code in the world to its abstract perceptual code in the brain. It might also be hypothesized that certain constructions of the external world, or of the pictures that represent and mimic them are unconsciously built in ways to facilitate the occurrences of such temporal relations. In the evolution of aesthetic styles certain forms begin to replace others in the visual landscape and with time these forms recur over and over again. There is a competition between these styles and forms in real time and space with certain styles replacing others as the social, political, aesthetic, psychological and economic relations that helped form them create different pressures that allows one style to predominate over another. I am hypothesizing that these forms have both spatial and temporal components and as they replace already existing forms with new ones these spatial and temporal relations become preponderant. (Time and space then can be viewed like the history of optical machines as devices that render their abstract qualities in accordance with a mutating and transforming cultural context.) It is in fact the differences in the spatial and temporal components that makes them more “evolutionary fit”. (However must take this in the context of an homologous set of relations. Sets of relations that may like the subculture of the Beats or Rastafarian be antithetical to the existing predominant hegemony of forms.) Because one should not forget that the brain is changing to in ways that match those occurring in aesthetics because through the process of neuronal group selection aesthetics and its partner culture are sculpting the brain as well. These preponderant temporal and spatial patterns become more and more available to the developing brain and as such cause repetitive excitations in the networks that code for them.

Towards the beginning of this century cinema began to have a tremendous effect on how art was made. We already spoke of Marcel Duchamps’ Nude Descending a Staircase and the work of the futurists. But painting was not the only practice to be effected by film. Architecture would begin its long dialogue with it during that time as well. Beatrice Colomina’s comments on Le Corbusier’s windows are a pertinent here. “With Le Corbusier’s “fenetre en longuer” we are returned to Dziga Vertov, to an unfixed, never-reified image, to a sequence without direction, moving backward and forward according to the mechanism or the movement of the figure.” (83) Le Courbousier in his desire to make architecture that would reflect his time adopted cinema into his practice. In doing so he also imbedded temporal and spatial relations that were invented by this new art form. In this case it was a time that no longer passed from past to future but in this case from future to past. The space of the traditional window that had been based on the vertical body viewing nature in one significant moment now became cut off in unpredictable ways and time began to become digitalized as the viewer could move forward or backward in front of it making the future past. The twentieth century has witnessed this imbedding of cinematic relations into architecture over and over again. As a result more and more of our visual space has been rendered cinematic. From the transparent buildings of the mid century, to the dynamic digital billboards that mesmerize us, to the digitally inspired works of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa architecture has acted as a mediator of cinematic apparatus and discourse reconfiguring the real worlds temporal and spatial relations into the real/virtual interface. Naturally these relations as they occur repetitively and are overwhelmingly dispersed throughout the world would have effects on the brain. Neural networks would be built and configured in line with this new landscape.

Aesthetics may also discover novel combinations of visual stimuli that elicit more efficient temporal reentrant firing and unleash nervous connections, held in check, which for instance could code for more complex types of information if given the correct algorhythm with which to connect. Like hypertext, for instance, layers of information can be built upon each other through restructuring its codes in folded, multiplexed temporal and spatial relations. Architecture as well has its own history of such building of complexity and folding of its material foundation. “In Rebstock Eisenman starts to work instead with a type of com-pli-cation that is no longer a matter of linear juxtaposition in an empty space or canvas but rather assumes the guise of a great transmorphogenic irruption in three-dimensional space. ………… Thus the Idea of the project passes from a punctual dislocation of a Place to a multilinear smoothing out of a Site, and from notions of trace and archaeology to notions of envelopment and actuality…” (84) In a dynamic and constantly evolving nervous system mappings that results from these new collages of information and for which new forms of reentry and parallel processing would be necessary for their use might be favored. The transhistorical discourse of visuality would therefore be a history of an interchange between an evolving externalized reality, reflecting changes in the aesthetic discourse with changes in the nature of objects and their relations, and an evolving adapting nervous system which codes this new visuality in ever more efficient reentry-driven global neural maps. What I am saying is that temporality is ingrained in the processing of certain physical counterparts of nervous excitation. That objects and their relations and the context they exist in have certain kinds of excitability signatures that are reflected in specific kinds of neural temporality which act to link neural networks together. But one must also remember that these new combinations of spatiality and temporality may occur because of chance like a Surrealist poem that emerges out of automatic writing. That this random occurrence might lead to a novel combination of object and object relations which by chance might coded by a more ergonomic coding property. With a variable and plastic/mutable nervous system chance encounters can have lasting and positive effects.

Ergonomics, mimicry and memory

“I referred to synergies earlier, but consider this: if the target units controlled by the brain are collectives or synergies rather than the individual muscles themselves, the brain’s functional load underlying their control will be greatly reduced. The extent of this reduction will be proportional to the degree to which subsets of muscles are activated simultaneously in a given movement execution.” (85)

As I mentioned earlier cognitive ergonomics that takes into account perceptual and cognitive strategies in the design of computer-worker interfaces, has recently grown in importance as industry has digitalized their technologies. We also made the distinction between visual and cognitive ergonomics and stated that visual ergonomics was a forerunner to cognitive ergonomics and was instrumental in transforming the real world through painting and sculpture and early on photography and cinema. We also mentioned that cognitive ergonomics had become more important for the development of cinema and new media. For the purpose of this essay I would like to stick to the more limited condition of cognitive ergonomics as it relates more directly to cinema. I would like to define cognitive ergonomics as a process through which objects and their relations as they exist in the real and now virtual world are organized according to evolving and mutating connections. These connections are spatial but they are temporal as well. In the end cognitive ergonomics has three levels of operation. First it captures the body’s attention by creating powerful attractors which quickly bypass primary concrete processing and stimulates higher and more phylogenetically advanced areas of the nervous system like the forebrain. Second it organizes objects and their relations in such a way as to make their perception easier and faster for the nervous system. It organizes information according to the nervous systems own innate neurobiologic predispositions both in the spatial organization of its neural network configurations and in terms of its existent temporal strategies. Finally cognitive ergonomics, through its activities in the external word, through the process neuronal group selection is an important force in reconfiguring neural networks in ways that allow them to operate most efficiently. What this implies is a set of conditions organized in the real world that feedbacks on the developing nervous system to alter its’ neural assemblages and just as importantly a now changed nervous system changing the world to conform to these changes. But we know the world is in constant flux as the throng of mutating, sociologic, psychological, economic, technologic and aesthetic relations, as a consequence of their summated potential, are radically altering the conditions in which objects, their relations and the spaces they occupy live. The fact that the brain has critical periods of development during which it has maximum flexibility or plasticity relegates the environments ability to change the brain to a specific time envelope to one generation at a time. Thus the changes its altered neurobiologic substrate can have on the environment are limited as well. Cognitve ergonomics is also important in shaping this generational flux. The changes wrought on the real/virtual interface one generation after another create a genealogy of such changes over time which are imbedded in the world and act as a foundation for further developments. Each field such as architecture, paining, fashion, and design create individual mutating memory systems that through their interactions with the other genealogies create cultural memory. Cognitive ergonomics unconsciously creates strategies that organize this information reducing “information drag and friction” both synchronously and diachronously.

Cinematic Memory and the “cyborg-ization” of neural networks

"It took researchers two months to train each blue jay to recognize, on screen, moths as food items, but once they did, researchers say the birds went at the images with such vigor that they had to place a protective shield over the screen to keep the jays from shattering the monitors." New York Times (86)

In cinema the variability found in nature is constrained and approximated by its conventions for instance its narrative or non-narrative style, its apparatus and its cultural discourse and then projected upon the screen. Stretching as a large, two-dimensional, rectangular map spread in front of a primed audience it becomes a reservoir of stylistic conventions which are the result of a history of experimentations within its own media and with those of the cultural and ideological fields in which it is folded. “The fact is that, in Godard, sounds and colors are attitudes of the body, that is, categories: they thus find their thread in the aesthetic compositions which passes through them, no less than in the social and political organization which underpins them.” (87) In this way the cinematic experience is linked up to the same set of conventions and codes that shaped and pruned the neural networks of the brain in the first place. The word pruned is important here because it refers to the way that fruit trees are cut in order for their branching to multiply. Here it refers to the way that films are edited to reduce their film load to that which is just necessary to tell the story adequately and believably and relates to the way that the number of neurons in the primary repertoire of the brain is first reduced by the process of neuronal group selection. In the early days of cinema the viewer could not easily make the distinction between the cinematic and real world. We all know of the famous story of the panic of the first audience viewing a train on the movie screen. The audience had to first learn cues of the difference between real and cinematic images. As the twentieth century unfolded more and more of the visual landscape became cluttered with photographic and cinematic paraphernalia either in its pure form as pictures in magazines, billboards, video dispays or internet quick time movies or in its coded form in the way buildings look, urban landscape is configured, design is organized or novels are written. Today the balance of the natural and unnatural, organic and artificial has flip-flopped so that the majority of images we perceive and cognate is in fact artificially contrived. My uncle Moni thought the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that he viewed on the television was a movie and had to be reassured that it was a real event. As a result early childhood memories, what I am calling originary memories, are just as likely to be based on artificial stimuli as organic ones resulting from for instance from a child’s long hours in front a television or computer screen during critical periods of object formation and language learning. . Add to this the specialized conditions of these artificially contrived stimuli their phatic potential in the context of a preschool mediated context of cartoons and toy commercials, their ubiquity and linkage to toys they see in shopping center malls and one does not need to be a brain scientist to understand how these types of networks come into being. These early artificial memories become the building blocks of long-term memories which link up with other like memories to form long-term artificial memory or virtual memory networks. These networks form the scaffolding upon and through which new stimuli and new memories, some of which are based on organic stimuli, are folded and woven together. Just in passing I would like to add the that the special temporal qualities of cinema, its’ 24 images per second, and video, its’ 30 images per second, superimpose another temporal coordinate system on the 40Hz oscillatory potential system already in place. When we watch a film our motor apparatus’ has been harnessed to a chair and as the lights are dimmed we transported into a semi-camatose state not unlike a dream where during REM sleep all the muscles of the body are shut except the tiny muscle of the inner ear. Apparent motion, the motion of persons on the screen, simulates our own body's mobility and substitutes itself in our minds eye replacing the normal network of impulses that would configure our own bodies in motion. Thus begins the process of disjunction that causes a de-linking of what Delueze calls the cybernetic cyle and what we are referring as the perceptual-motor dyad. But Deleuze must wait for the birth of modern cinema which he places around 1945 with Visconti’s “Obsession” for this real break to occur. He finds in classic cinema a kind of organicity that is the product of early cinemas dependence on narrative and its investigative analysis of the movement image in which sensation is always followed by an action. It is only later after 1945 that cinema becomes truly modern because this link is broken. A new definition for cinema called the time-image erupts after the war and is defined by a disruption of the perceptual-motor cycle leading to a virtual cinema. It is characterized by what he calls an opsign, or optical sign, which is a visual sensation unaccompanied by a motor component. In our neuro-aesthetic model it is defined by a disruption of the classic relation between the posterior perceptual brain and the anterior action oriented brain. In early cinema the relation of perception to action always maintained a temporal continuity between the past and the present. The body needed to know what the future would hold so that an appropriate action could take place. By its very nature the motor apparatus is predictive. If a baseball is thrown the arm knows where it needs to go to catch it. The body enforces a kind of temporality. Released from this requirement of the body modern cinema is freed from its restraint but it is also freed from narrative time. Past becomes future and future becomes the past. A new kind of non-time joins the idea of non-place. It is to this modern cinema that Antonioni’s “Blow-up” is indebted and is about. For the construction of the twentieth century which the main character Thomas embodies concerns the rupture of the body from the perception-action cycle, the substitution of real memories with virtual ones with the consequent relocation of the actual/imaginary interface towards the imaginary and the final breakdown of temporal contiguity with the future becoming the past and the past becoming the future. As a result the basic neural network structure that is sculpted by these relations is also changed. We must remember that we discover Thomas when he is already a man. His mental and physical condition has already been formed by the twenty-five or so years that preceded our introduction. Years in which modern cinema would have become the predominant form. Years in which the relations that created it like the political, economic, and social conditions caused World War Two would have become imbedded in the world and reconfigured in architecture, painting, media, fashion, and design as well as the plastic arts. For after all cinema is a moving picture of a moving picture. A picture for the Italian Neo-Realists’ that captured as closely as possible the essence of the world around them without the artificial “aesthetification” that would characterize later film practice. Twenty years in which those conditions would serve as a template for the configuration of his brain. What effect these conditions would have on the memory structure itself is the question we will next investigate as a way to understand Thomas’s mind’s disarticulation at the end of the film.

The nature of his predicament concerns the body as it is caught in between two diametrically opposed mnemonic fields. On that references the constructed time-space of the photo-cinematic visual landscape (what we will call the cinematic field) and that of the field of internalized representations developed through a life of relations with the space-time of the organic, "real". (88) These memory fields are quite different. The cinematic one, as the most recent stage in the developmental process of cognitively ergonomically constructed phatic stimuli, represents the most parsimonious approach to the identification and animation what is necessary to convey an illusion of the world though the plastic arts and the other the real which is connected through the bodies action in the material world, its’ necessity to predict the outcome of its performances in the context of a complex array of “non-homo-geneous sensations”. (89) Cinematic memory is different than that its real declarative and non-declarative counterpart because it is split and dissociated from what has been termed the “cybernetic cycle” which is comprised of a perceptual and motor component. In this cycle every percept is linked to a motor response and there must always be a degree of complicity between the coding of the two. That complicity requires energy to be expended in order to maintain a state of constant translation. Cortical and subcortical structures, like the cerebellum and the hippocampus link the two systems to each other as part of huge neural network systems. (90) The function of these ancillary systems may be to translate one code into another as well as reroute information to other systems which in their own translations extract information that allow for a picture with greater density of information and perhaps even a multidimensional quality. All which together make for a more accurate body adjustment to the incoming data. However this is not without cost. What this could mean is that in their need to be linked neurons and the networks they form must share basic codes imbedded in “linguistic like” structures, like the shared neural signatures that simultaneously stimulated neurons coding for converging inputs share, that allow for their easier deciphering. As such they are tethered together at some level like Siamese twins joined at the hip. The process by which they became unlinked first commenced in the reclining passive state engendered by the conditions of viewing films in the darkened movie theater in which visual perception was not necessarily followed by an action. Of course classic cinema still depended on this connection in the minds eye to create its narrative structure. Narrative cinema with its linear story line still respected notions of the past, present and future and the mind was able to project the outcomes of actions in the future. Modern cinema, on the other hand, rejected this type of mind projection through the introduction of the time-image in which the motor component was unleashed from its perceptual counterpoint. Finally avant-garde cinema by focusing on the apparatus of cinema, and creating a foundation based on the grid released space from time completely as seen most distinctly in Andy Warhol’s, “Empire” or Yoko Ono’s “Buttocks”. (91) Today video artists like Douglas Gordon and Ackerman are using video installation to put motricity back into the cinematic experience as the subject must ambulate through the cinematic field.

In modern cinema the cinematic memory field is piggybacked on the perceptual component in the posterior part of the brain and as such is released from the frontal cortex and the body’s grip. In this way cinematic memory develops a unique kind of uncanny intensity that is usually found in hallucinations and dreams. (92) Hence it is the excision of the motor act from modern cinematic memory is what makes it so different. The large neural networks that link anterior and posterior brain are pruned and as a result the cinematic memory no longer carries the baggage of the motor act. It does not require that the body to react with a movement. Delueze analyzes this difference in steps. He first quotes Robbe-Grillet when describing the real memory as a sensory-motor image which is organic and cinematic image as purely optical and inorganic. “ It would seem first of all that the sensory-motor image is richer, because it is the thing itself, at least the thing as it extends into the movements by which we make use of it. Whilst the pure optical image seems necessarily poorer and more rarefied: as Robbe-Grillet says, it is not the thing, but a description which tends to replace the thing, which erases the concrete object, which selects only certain features of it, even if this means making way for different descriptions which will pick out different lines or features, which are always provisional always in question, displaced or replaced …… it is of interest to view the cinematic experience, not as some mimicry of the "real," but instead a reified construction of it”. (93) Later on he further elucidates this cinematographic image by referring to Bergson. The sensory- motor image, which will construct the sensory-motor memory or what we call the real memory, links a perception image to an action image. The purely optical image which will create a cinematic memory is a very different image first of all because it is a rarefied and pruned image and second of all because its does not link itself to a physical act. In other words “the optical sound image in attentive recognition does not extend into movement, but enters into relation with a recollection-image it calls up.” In the final analysis the point is that “they tend ultimately to become confused by slipping into the same point of indiscernibility.” (94) Later on Deleuze develops this point further and gives the grounding on which to evaluate Thomas and his crisis of identity. “We gave the name opsign (sonsign) to the actual image cut off from its motor extension: it then formed large circuits and entered into communication with what could appear as recollection-images, dream images and world images. But here we see that the opsign finds its true genetic element when the actual optical image crystallizes with its own virtual image, on the small internal circuit.” (95) Is his use here of the word circuit a substitute for the word network and is he implying that these changes are taking place at the neuro-biologic level? I think he is and we will see later what exactly that model is. The key here is that the there is a dialectical relation between opsigns and the memories they create with a virtual image. It is this virtual image when it is insinuated into networks that are the result of sensory-motor images that problems arise. The lines of default occur when the sensory-motor representations and the purely optical opsigns make up large neural networks. The need to work together and efficiently is difficult because metaphorically and hypothetically these two systems of memory although insinuated together don’t line up because they have been coded differently. It is as if a kind of mimesis occurs between two incompatible systems in which even though much of the structures appear morphologically alike at the deeper levels of their structures they are dissimilar. Like two strands of DNA with similar structures but whose tertiary structures are dissimilar and which causes there bending to bend not alike. One is reminded of Roger Callois and his idea of legendary psychasthenia in which the idea of self is elided with ones surroundings dissolving the boundaries of self and non-self. In this case it is the disruption of the self is caused by the inexact replications of the world that become interdigitated together in large artificial-organic memory networks in the mid-twentieth century; memories that use significantly different codes for time and space relations. Linear and declarative structures are organized with non-linear, non- narrative, and parallel relations in which time and space are fluid. As we will see the opsigns as pure perceptual phenomena do not contain the neuro-physiologic signatures that allow the body to read them correctly and they become hallucinogenic. Real and virtual become inextricably aligned in fragile memory structures that blink on and off, forever.

Blow Up: The construction of the Twentieth century observer

"If the photographic illusion, as later the cinematographer illusion, fully gratifies the spectator's taste for delusion, it also reassures him or her in that the delusion is in conformity with the norm of visual perception. The mechanical magic of the anagogic representation of the visible is accomplished and articulated from a doubt as to the fidelity of human vision and more widely as to the truth of sensory impressions."(97)

The world that assaults Thomas and now all of us is a conglomerate structure in which real and artificial stimuli are sutured together in the landscape of real organic relations as well as those of the cinematic screen and the computer LED. The disruption of the psyche which is the subtext of "Blow Up" and eventually leads to Thomas's acceptance of an imaginary tennis game as real, is a result of the Neurobiological consequences this insinuation of the artificial landscape upon and into that of the real which together form the template for the sculpting of the brain. The terrain of the visual landscape is a experimental laboratory where these relations can be formed and played with. Their secondary affect on the brain and the brain’s recursive feedback upon it create a kind of symbiosis. One must keep in mind however that there are limits at the margins of each system and that when these limits are reached a kind of noise erupts making coherence impossible. Such is the situation Thomas finds himself in the mid-twentieth century as these two competing systems of representation and analysis are as of yet not necessarily simpatico. Mutations in object form and built space brought on by the invention of photography and cinema are well beyond his brain’s adaptive ability to comprehend thoroughly and weave these new relations into the fabric of his mind. As I have said before he is the product of two competitive and sometimes conflicting mnemonic codification systems. One a product of a kind of mimesis in which similar and synchronous originalities (one from nature and its corresponding Neurobiological counterpart) undergo a synaptic merging and the other, a product of disparate technologies teleologized around an ergonomically driven set of relations. Real and simulated neural networks create pure and composite local and global mappings. Since simulated entities, being ergonomically contrived, act as supersignifiers they will call out to the brain, organizing its neural substrate in powerful ways that overwhelm other inputs. Real inputs and the networks they form will be pushed out because as we have seen inputs that are more ergonomically constructed and appear more frequently will create the most efficient neural networks. The result is a brain that is more and more a product of artificial phatic inputs. This is the predicament of Thomas. As a photographer obsessed with his own images and highly attuned to other like images, his memory systems have been either displaced or replaced by this competitive system of signification. Thomas's discovery of the murderer and his gun hidden in the bushes is a revelation of monumental proportions. It is a disclosure of the limitations of his body. A body caught in the habits of its own physiognomy and impotent in the face of superior technology. From this point of disclosure, Thomas embarks upon a journey of re-visitations. He goes back to the park to revisit not the space where he was a witness, but back to a space he discovered in the photographs of that place. His gaze shifting as he inspects the site is a re-enactment of similar ones he formulated when viewing the photographic representations of the site. He finds the dead body that is really a reaffirmation of the death of his own body as perceptual organ. The dead man's eyes are open. He circles the body, and touches it leaving only when he thinks he hears something. But does he? Or is the sound of a broken branch another token of the body's dismay or lack. Is this what Roland Barth means when he says "... which I would like to call the Spectrum of the Photograph, because this work retains, through its root, a relation to "spectacle" and adds to it that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead." (98) The broken twig is a delusion resulting from a kind of noise that erupts in the grating of memory systems. For the basis of this memory is the photograph of an event he thought was "very still, very peaceful". Returning to his studio, he finds it ransacked and all his photos gone, except one. The blown-up detail is of the dead man, barely perceptible in the landscape of grain that has the appearance of a microscopic slide of brain tissue. With all the evidence of his experience gone, he panics and continues his journey. He follows what he thinks is Vanessa Redgrave, the woman in his pictures, into a rock concert where the Yardbirds are playing but she disappears. He ends up at a party looking for his agent, Ron, whom he entreats for confirmation. He says, "We've got to get a picture of the corpse," to which Ron replies, "I'm not a photographer." Thomas replies, "I am." Clearly, Thomas needs the photographic evidence as corroborating proof to his own sensorium. Ron, sensing something is amiss, asks, "What's the matter with you?"... "What did you see in that park?" Thomas can only reply that he saw "nothing." He had seen nothing. He wakes up alone surrounded by the remnants of the party of the night before. The next scene is in the park where, for the third time, he re-visits the site. This time, the body is again missing as his camera dangles limp from his hand. He again inspects the site but the directness and forcefulness of the gaze is lacking. He is no longer sure what is real or what happened. It is as if the two accounts have canceled each other out and left him as an amnesiac. This leads to the final rupture of the film where Thomas willingly accepts the imaginary tennis ball as real, even to the point of retrieving it after it has apparently been hit out of the court. This marks an end point in the ontogeny of his bodily disconnection and a final collapse of the real.


Networked relations in the real world configure network relations in the brain. Photography, cinema and now new media have done much to change the way time and space is encoded into the networked relations of the world and have done much to reconfigure the real world into a real/virtual interface. Fields of phatic signifiers have been artificially created to capture the attention of the human observer. Utilizing a strategy I have termed cognitive ergonomics artificial stimuli have been engineered to have superior attention grabbing capabilities beyond their naturally created counterpart. As such these artificial stimuli compete more affectively for the neural space as they configure superior neural network configurations that are faster and more efficient. These ergonomically contrived network systems have selective advantage over those that are not and thus crowd out those less selective neural networks. Somewhere in the midst of this ontogenetic process we meet Thomas, the main character of "Blow-up" who suffers through a predicament beyond his control. A kind of disease of the late twentieth century we might call "artificially induced disparate memory syndrome" in which organic and artificial memory systems compete for consciousnesses attention leaving the subject distraught and disassociated.

Notes and Bibliography

1. Postmodernismor, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson, Duke University Press, 1991, page 38.
2. The Deleuze Connections, John Rajchman, M.I.T. Press, 2000, page 11.
3. Much has been written about the reasons for this and a whole field of cinema studies has developed around what is referred to as “Cognitivism” by Noel Carrol and others. For an in-depth analysis of these theories see Post-Theory, Reconstructing Film Studies, Edited by David Bordwell and Noel Carrol, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.
4. Privacy and Publicity, Beatriz Colomina, M.I.T. Press, 1996, page128.
5. I am using the term cinematic/virtual image to update this discussion to reflect changes occur in cyber-culture as well as to draw attention their historical relations.
6. The Vision Machine, Paul Virilio, Indiana University Press, 1994., page 14.
7. Ibid, Virilio, 1994, page 13
8. “Today professional and amateur photographers alike are mostly happy to fire off
shot after shot, trusting to the power of speed and the large number of shots
taken. They rely slavishly on the contact sheet, preferring to observe their own
photographs to observing some kind of reality. “ Ibid, Virilio, 1994, page 13.
9. “A Short History of Photography”, Walter Benjamin,
10. “ Techniquies of the Observer”, Jonathan Crary, MIT Press, 1990.
11. Ibid, Rajchman, 2000, page 122.
12. “The Remembered Present”, Gerald Edelman, Basic Books Inc., New York, 1989, pg. 44.
13. “Before Photography, Painting and the Invention of Photography”, Peter Galassi,
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1981, pg.12, “It is, in other words, a tautology, which in effect remands the interpretive burden to the scientific tradition. The object here is to show that photography was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition.”
14. “Les Commissariat aux Archives, Les Photos Qui Falsifient L’histoire”, Alain Jaubert, Edition Bernard Barrault, 1986.
15. Eduardo Cadava has pointed out in his introduction to his seminal book, “Words of Light”.
16. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”, Louis Althuser, in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, translated by Ben Brewster, New Left Books, London.
17. “Neuronal Models of Cognitive Function”, J.P. Changeux and S. Dehaene in Brain Development and Cognition, Ed. by Mark H. Johnson, Blackwell,1993, pg. 363-397.
18. Ibid, J.P. Changeux and S. Dehaene, 1993.
19. “Engaging Perspectives: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Problem of Vision“, Kate Linker, pg. 221 in Hall of Mirror, Art and Film Since 1945, organized by Kerry Brougher, MOCA, 1996
20. Ibid, Edelman,1989, pg.50.
21. For detailed analysis of this concept please see Maya Dern, “Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality” and Colin MacCabe “Theory and Film: Principles of Reality in Film Theory and Criticism edited by Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, and Leo Braudy, Oxford University Press, New York, 1974.
22. “Scopic Regimes of Modernity, Martin Jay in Vision and Visuality, ed. Hal Foster, DIA Art Foundation, Bay Press, Seattle, 1985, pg.9.
23. Ibid, Martin Jay, 1985, pg.16.
24. Ibid, Martin Jay, 1985, pg.17.
25. Critique of Judgement, Immanuel Kant, translated by J.H. Bernard, Hafner Press,1951
26. Ibid, Kant, 1951.
27. I am using architecture as an example keeping in mind that this argument could be made for design, fashion and art just as well. I am addressing the neural network configuration of the brain aware of the fact that I may be making an argument for the mind.
28. Privacy and Publicity, Beatriz Colomina, MIT Press, 1998, pg 73.
29. The Brain is the Screen, Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema, editor. Gregory Flaxman, University of Minnesota Press, 2000, pg.31.
30. Warped Space, Anthony Vidler, MIT Press, 2000.
31. Architectonic is a word that is used in neurobiology to describe the distinct cellular organization of specific areas of the brain. For instance the columnar arrangement in the visual cortex.
32. It is now widely appreciated that the process of plasticity extends well beyond the early life of the human into adulthood and is responsible for such phenomena as “Remapping” in which neural networks become reconfigured in order to take over the function of adjacent areas which have become non-functional due to loss of afferent input. “ Finally, some reorganizations may not mediate recoveries…but may produce further malfunction by producing inappropriate responses to sensory stimuli. For example , mislocalization to an amputated arm of sensory tactile stimuli on the face in humans may be a result of the reorganization of the somatosensory representations so that cortex normally activated by the arm is activated by receptors in the face, as can occur in monkeys with sensory loss. “The Reorganization of Sensory and Motor Maps in Adult Mammals”, Jon H Kaas, The Cognitive Neurosciences, ed. Michael Gazzaniga, MIT Press, 1995.
33. Kracauer, Seigfreid, “Photography” In The Mass Ornament: Weimer Essays”, translated by Thomas Y. Levin, Harvard University Press, 1995.
34. For instance Johannes Muller’s work in 1826 on subjective visual size in relation to the retinal image, Edvald Hering’s theories on visual space perception in 1864, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz’s theories of three color vision and specific nerve energies, 1860 and Charles Wheatstone on binocular parallax and stereoscopic perception, 1838 are occurring at around the same time as inventions such as the chromatrope, for blending surface colors, the zoetrope which was incidentally invented as a toy bases on the persistence of vision and only later was used to create a moving image, and the polariscope which by the use of polarized light causes the creation of complementary colors and a variety of optical illusions. The end of the nineteenth century was also notable for a plethora of devices which had direct connections to the photography and cinema such as the Wheatstone Stereoscope, Chronophotographic camera used Etienne Jules Marey, Emile Reynaud’s projecting praxiniscope, the Zoetrope, Georges Demeny’s phonoscope, Ottomar Anschutz’s electrical tachyscope and finally the cinematic camera’s used by Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers.
35. Ibid, Colomina,,1996.
36. I am using the term curved here to refer how light is curved by intense gravitational fields emanating from a black hole
37. Ibid, Paul Virilio, 1994, pg. 14
38. For the sake of this discussion I am limiting myself to a discussion of the visual apparatus, visual field and visual landscape. The visual apparatus consists of the eye, its appendages, such as the eye muscles, and its connection to the brain. The visual field is the visual limits of the spatial and temporal projection of the world on the retina. The visual landscape is all the cultural artifacts that clutter the visual field. I am also only talking about the field of phatic signifiers at this time although I am aware of a diametric opposed field which exists in parallel called the field of discursive signifiers which is a reservoir of signifiers at odds with the academic suppositions of the field of phatic signifiers. It is to this field that artistic practice can at times be tuned and from which it can extract new variables to contaminate the ongoing discourse.
39. “Neural Darwinism”, Gerald Edelman, Basic Books, 1987.
40. Ibid, Edelman, 1987, pg. 5,6.
41. Ibid, J.P. Changeux and S. Dehaene, 1993
42. “The Techniques of the Observer”, Jonathan Crary, MIT Press, 1990.
43 Mutating here in the sense of a changing neuro-synaptic configuration.
44. “A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History”, Manuel De Landa, MIT, 1997, pg.
45. Ibid, Flaxman, 2000, page16.
46. Ibid, Deleuze, 1986, pg. 4.
47. Ibid, Deleuze, 1986, pg. 7.
48. Ibid, Flaxman, 2000. pg.32.
49. “The Film History of Thought”, Andras Balint Kovacs in The Brain is the Screen ed. Gregory Flaxman, University of Minnesota Press,
50. Cinema 2, The Time-Image, Giles Deleuze, University of Minnesota Press, 1995, pg. 69.
51. Although KinoGlaz ( Kino Eye) was made in 1924 way before Visconti’s Obsession which Deleuze marks as the dividing line of modern cinematic practice I use this as an example because many of the practices used in this film were in fact counter to the Hollywood films being made and sound more like modern cinema experimental films of the sixties. Here is a quote from Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Annete Michelson, University of California Press,
Kino –eye is understood as that which the does not see. As the microscope and telescope of time. As the negative of time. As the possiblity of seeing without limits and distances. As the remote control of movie cameras. As tele eye, as X-ray eye, as life caught unawares ect. ect.. Later sounding more like neo realism, “Not filming life unawares for the sake of the unaware. But in order to show people without masks, without makeup, to catch them through the eye of the camera in a moment whey are not acting, to read their thoughts, laid bare by the camera.”
52. Ibid, Crary, 1990, pg.132.
53. ‘Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”, Roger Callois in October: The First Decade, 1976-1986. MIT Press, 1988.
54. Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-1978, P. Adams Sitney,
Oxford University Press, 1979.
55. “Cognitive Approaches to the Avant-Garde”, James Petersonk, In Post-theory, Reconstructing Film Studies, Ed. David Bordwell and Noel Carrol, University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.
56. “From Metaphors of Vision”, Stan Brakhage, in Film Theory and Criticism, Ed. by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, Oxford University Press, 1999.
57. The Seminars of Jacques Lacan, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Norton, 1991.
58. The End of Avant-Garde Film, Fred Camper, Millennium Film Journal# 16, 17 , 18.
59. Ibid. James Peterson, 1996.
60. The Primacy of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Northwestern University Press, 1964.
61. Poetry, Language and Thought, Martin Heidegger, Trans. By Albert Hofstadter, Harper Books, 1975.
62. Human Dimension and InteriorSpace, J. Panerio and Martin Zelnick, Whitney Library of Design, 1979.
63. Ibid. Edelman, 1989.
64. Memory in the Cerebral Cortex, Joachim M. Fuster, MIT press, 1995.
65. Ibid. Fuster, 1995.
66. The Origins of Cultural Diversity, Janusz K. Kozlowski, in Origins of the Human Brain, ed. Jean-Pierre Changeux and Jean Chavaillon, Foundation Fyssen, Clarendon Press, 1996.
67. “Making Images and Creating Subjectivity”, A.R. Damasio and H. Damasio in The Mind Brain Continuum, ed. by Rodolfo Llinas and Patricia Churchland, MIT Press,1996.
68. Informational susceptibility is a term which defines how the predetermined arrangement of the primary repertoire provides the basic building blocks with which to build understanding. It is important to mention here that it is my opinion that language is always implicit in the way that the world is configured. The developing child must build the neurobiological apparatus to sense it. That is to say that the child interaction with the environment helps it build the neurobiologic apparatus with which to perceive the inherent linguistic metaphors that are built into the world. Selective development as it is slowly sculpted by these unconscious relations is a process of building categories of superimposed and collaged networks, local and global, that eventually will give the brain the structure to understand and produce language.
69. Ibid. Edelman, 1989.
70. Brain Development, Plasticity and Behavior, Bryan Kolb, in Brain Deveopment and Cognition, Ed. Mark H. Johnson, Blackwell. 1993.
71. Ibid. Damasio and Damasio, 1996.
72. “The Brain as a Closed System Modulated by the Senses”, R. Llinas and D. Pare in The Mind Brain Continuum, ed. by Rodolfo Llinas and Patricia Churchland, MIT Press,1996.
73. Ibid. Jonathan Crary, 1990.
74. Memory in the Cerebral Cortex, Joaquin M. Fuster, MIT Press, 1995.
75. I think the term individual memory is more clear and introduces the idea of how the unique qualities of the human being can be developed.
76. Ibid. Fuster., 1995, pg. 181
77.We will see later in our discussion that when we talk about the categories of cinema that perhaps these designations link up to some of the Deluzian models of the sensory-motor schema. That the movement image could be linked to the latter designations of the premotor and motor cortex while that of the time image might might find some relation to the time based prefrontal cortex.
78. Ibid. Fuster, 1995, pg.97
79. Parcelization can also refer to polymodal experience. Most of our experiences are based on images of several sensory modalities occurring within the same window of time. Since the early sensory cortices for each modality are not contiuous and are not directly interconnected, it follows that our polymodal experiences must result from concurrent activitiy in several separate brain regions rather than a single one.” In “The Mind-Brain Continueum” R. Llinas and P.Churchland, The MIT Press, 1996.
80. “Temporal Mechanisms in Perception”, E. Poppel, In Selectionism and the Brain, ed. O. Sporns and G. Tononi, Academic Press, 1994.
81. Ibid. Fuster,1995.
82. “Binding by Specific –Non-Specific 40 Hz Resonant Conjunction”,R. Llinas and D. Pare in The Mind Brain Continuum, R Llinas and P. Churchland, MIT Press, 1996.
83. , Privacy and Publicity, Beatriz Colimina (MIT Press, 1998): 73.
84. Constructions, John Rajchman MIT 1998.
85. I of the Vortex, from Neurons to Self. R. Llinas, MIT Press, 2002.
86. “ What do Blue Jays Like To Eat: Ask a Virtual Moth”, Carol Kaesuk Yoon,
New York Time, October,13, 1998.
87. Cinema 2, The Time-Image, Gilles Deleuze, University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
88. In the case of Thomas and his character in the 1960’s this mutation occurring in built space was still in its formative stages and neither form predominated. Today one might say that the cinematic field with its link to the virtual computer based realities predominates
89. What I mean here by non-homo-genous sensations refers to a stimulus array that is shared by all the phylum of nature living together in the matrix of relations we refer to as nature. Whereas in the cinematic field these phatic relations have been constructed for the proclivities of the human nervous system. They are thus more specific for it being tuned to its neuro-physiological channels.
90. “ While sensation and perhaps certain aspects of perception can proceed without a contribution of the motor apparatus, perceptual catagorization depends upon the interplay between local cortical sensory maps and local motor maps: these, together with thalamic nuclei, basal ganglia, and cerebellum, interact to form the global mappings that permit the definition of objects as a result of continual motor activity.” Neural Darwinism, Gerald Edelman, Basic Books, 1987.
91. Virtual reality is the latest formation in the genealogy of this discourse and as such reinvents space and time in terms not of an observer or real subject but simply as a machine with machine memories. For the purposes of this discussion however we are restricting ourselves to the cinematic field and cinematic memory with the hope that it will open up possibilities for later understanding time and space in relation to new technologies.
92. We already discussed the way the body is shut down during dreaming. Can you imagine an animal in the bush whose body was moving in relation to the action of a dream? It would be an easy target for a predator.
93. Ibid, Deleuze,1996, page 45.
94. Cinema 1, The Movement-Image, Gilles Deleuze, University of Minnesota Press, 1996. page 45 and 46.
95. Ibid. Deleuze, 1996.
96. “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”, Roger Callois in October the First Decade, 1976-1986, ed. Michelson and all, MIT Press, 1988.
97. “Machines of the Visible”, Jean-Louis Comoli, in Electronic Culture, ed.Timothy Druckery, Aperture, 1996.
98. Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard Hill and Wang, 1981.