15 May 2017

VISUAL DYNAMICS V: THE FUNCTION OF THE VISUAL BRAIN


Our mission to uncover the fundamental material properties of both the eyes and the visual cortex has been satisfied.  In this entry, I want to lead into a new exposition as to how visual art can tell us more about the practical functions of the visual brain.


MASTER AND SERVANT 

The reasons as to why humans create and find value in artistic creations are as legion as the works themselves.  A consumer might suggest that we create art for simple amusement, an outgrowth of the desire to seek novelty and satisfaction from the senses.  An academic might offer that we create visual representations of language to translate new intellectual perspectives and extract abstract meaning from the experiences of life.  A Jungian analyst might add that art is the gateway to the unconscious life of Mankind.

These are just a small sample of the possible justifications that we could use to determine the value of visual art, though as we notice, all of those examples were extensions of the sensitivities of the people that have offered them.  All of these individuals would relate into the imagery something of their own learned experiences with it.  Repeat communion with the imagery stimulates something that is already within them, something that is associated with the manner that they have learned to extract value from life.

Man-made imagery suggests that there is always much more than meets the eye.  We are starting to understand something new about the relationship between object and purpose.  The value of art associates to its perceived practical results to the brain, rendering the impression that we also create to affect some kind of change in the world of action.   

Artworks can thus be seen as "catalysts of potential" that stimulate new practical programs within the strategic spaces of the human brain.  A visual work of art is therefore related to the practical architecture of the brain and its desire to seek new information about the world, thereby formulating new perspectives and strategies surrounding it.

The mental maps that the brain produces shape our perceptions about the living world, enabling us to formulate a more sophisticated relationship to our external reality, and with the consistent influx of new and novel information patterns, the process is kept in a state of constant renewal.  As you are receiving sensory information from the world, the brain is marrying and extrapolating that information against its own record, producing an ever-changing mutational complex of strategic maps on-the-fly as it moves through hard space.  This is an ancient and pre-existent process of our organism that does not require instigation from our will in order to occur naturally since so much of its activity is initiated unconsciously.  However, we can intelligently influence its dynamics by being considerate to the stimuli that will inform the development of the new strategic maps our brains create.



This speaks to the dynamic creativity of our organism and the oft-overlooked relationship between the brain and the material world.  We are the victims of a logistical game that has abstracted the mind from the subjects of the world, and in turn, corrupted our intelligent relationship towards it.  

Out of this atomised approach to the world of experience, it is common for us to mistake phenomena and the mind to be totally divorced and disconnected entities that share no real causality between each other.  The erroneous idea that we can relate to the world as indifferent and not in any way an extension of the expression of our own organics is untenable when faced with the manner to which our brain exchanges with its sensory experience of life.  

There certainly has been a disconnect: not between organism and subject, but between the rational intellect and the world.  In the West, we are culturally contained within this false abstraction that the world only exists "out there" and that we merely exist "in here," blinded to the much more subtle reality that what we take as 'the world' is produced form in the image of the same complex instrument we are using to abstract ourselves away from it.  

The world is rendered in the image of the human organism as each creatures' reality is a unique expression of theirs, and the external world is communicating with us always in a symphonic exchange of information, translating into the mental maps each of us use to inform our own impression of human reality.  But the degree to which this relationship is fruitful or lacking is determined by our awareness and attention to its powers and processes.  In order to organise a more effective and truly rational relationship to the natural world, we need to forge new maps of relating to it.  Mental maps where mind, subject, and both conscious and unconscious process are reconciled within a system that complements the holistic properties of the brain and not merely, the prejudices of contemporary intellectuals.

Returning then to our central analysis: visual art confirms that new and novel maps of information can be generated as outgrowths made from the exposure to the power of unique and novel imagery, and the creative act that fulfils them is itself an outgrowth of deeper powers in the human body. 

Visual Dynamics and the creative process are portals that compliment the practical desires of the brain to seek new and novel information about the phenomenal world.  These practical desires of the brain crystallise within hard space as creative emanations of that command, and as a consequence, take on the practical utility for information extraction that the human brain is predisposed to discover. 

In other words, visual art is an extension of the human brains' function to seek new and novel ways of extracting information about the world.  The brain interacts with art via the power of vision to serve the intended function of acquiring the new material that will generate its new maps of reality.  I reason that by acquiring new and novel representations of sensory reality, the human brain is able to synthesise vastly more efficient mental maps of potential than without them, resulting in a much wider field of cognitive flexibility.  Cerebral abstractions are not enough on their own; the analogue abstractions of mind and forms must be synthesised into embodied artefacts of tangibility in order to catalyse the human cerebral process into wider and more creative maps of potential activity in the world of action.  These new styles of relating to the world re-rendered through the forms of aesthetic expression, offer innovative and alternative ways of thinking, and in turn, new and useful systems emerge within the mind as its consequence.

The senses are outgrowths of the organic utility to retrieve new information about the sensory world, and we also use this information to model our behaviour and perceptions about reality.  This also serves to illustrate the distinction that individual people do not necessarily interpret reality but that individual brains interpret reality through their uniquely calibrated map variations.  And the methods that these brains use to construct their calibrations from the complexities of life is determined by the respective powers and limitations, not only of their own intelligent systems, but also, of the created outgrowths that their culture has organised to help arrange the information that will compliment the processes of information integration and interpretation.  If we look comparatively at all human cultures, we understand how they are all unique expressions of this process.  

Our merchant, academic and Jungian analyst can all be satisfied under this new understanding as they all have organised their own responses to life from this very same process of information acquisition, integration and reinterpretation.  Visual art is a created outgrowth of the brains' evolutionary necessity to seek new information about the world, and as we shall see, the properties and consequences of vision are subservient to the properties and consequences of the human brain.  The master commands the servant and the servant obediently operates; the consequence of that operation eventually returning to embellish the master organ.


THE ELUSIVE ESSENTIAL

Were it not for the advanced harmonics of our evolutionary systems we would be drowning in an ocean of sensory information.  We would only perceive chaos.  The body has sensitively evolved over the millennia as a response to the conditions of its natural environment, and through its brilliance, the body can rearticulate the environmental signals into an instructive experience of the phenomenal world.

Through consistent over-exposure and normalisation, we have come to take the subtleties of this arrangement somewhat for granted even though we are informed and motivated by its influences consistently.  Another aspect of this problem has to do with the fact that it is simply not necessary to understand the deep dynamics of our organism in order to fulfil the major prerequisites of evolutionary demand.  

We have, however, evolved with the intelligent capacity to understand these qualities on a deeper level should we so desire and one could argue the point that it is a part of our wider prerogative to penetrate these fields as a way of harnessing the fullness of our organism, and thereby, propel our evolutionary maturation.  

Personally, I would argue that it is an essential component of any higher organism to know itself through the available means afforded to it by Nature; and by subsequent action, rearticulate those insights into an effective and prosperous manner of living that runs complimentary not only to its own prosperity but the wider prosperity of its race.  Nature has awarded us with organic systems that demand consistent interactivity and exercise.  The logical continuation of this process points to a potential self-mastery, and we are impoverished if we choose to deliberately neglect our traits as mere artefacts of evolved happenchance than the organic talents that they truly are.  

One could be far more severe and suggest that a higher organism that does not harness its potential to some degree of ripened fulfilment probably has no evolutionary justification to exist in the first place since it has consciously forsaken its role as a living continuation of that rigorous evolutionary exercise for the easier paths of sloth and degradation.  

For the benefit of our artistic endeavour, we will have to realign ourselves to these powers if we are to interpret and utilise the function of sight effectively.


So far we have begun to recognise the brilliance of the body processes and the involved role we share in the maintenance and exercise of their power.  We also have learned that a key aspect of the brains' utility is to actively search for new information about the sensory world in order to advance its systems of performance.  But what of this conscious chamber of experience that encloses and supports us in our work to fulfil this task of learning and advancement?   

We understand through cases of injury to the sensory organs or other methods of perturbation such as psychotropic drugs, that the bodies' harmony can become easily disrupted.  The delicate intricacy of our arrangement commands that only a slight disturbance in a major organ can result in a corrupted appreciation of our interpretation of reality.  As we have already covered in previous entries to this module, we now understand that we see with the visual cortex and not the eyes.  However, if the optic organs are damaged, a corruption of sight none the less occurs even though the primary organ that facilitates the visual read-out is ready and in operation.  The organs that harvest the light signal have malfunctioned, thereby contributing to a corruption of the entire, interdependent process.  

The body, like all systems of Nature, is the result of a conversation of interactive parts that compliment its wider systems of activity.  Just as with our symphonic metaphor for sight, the whole orchestra can be playing effectively, but if one significant component is out of place, it disrupts the appreciation of the entire composition.  Such are the systems of the organism.  And likewise, with a musical composition, the processes of our organics are never static.  In this eternal flux, we are held within a certain habitual range that awards us enough discernable consistency to be able to navigate through hard space and make wide responses to the impressions that are being presented to us via our sensory talents.  This is the small sphere of clarity we call our 'reality' that ultimately rests within a greater gargantuan web of unfathomable cosmic complexity.


There are literally billions of processes occurring in your body at each given second in order to make this function successfully.  Thankfully, we do not need to be as aircraft pilots: conscientiously aware of several dozen various technical processes occurring at any given time.  We instead operate within the ranges of what we need to be conscious of, whilst most of our accountable organic activity is obliterated and beyond our direct influence.  Our impressions of the world are able enough for us to be able to perform critical decisions and interact with the phenomenal world for the requirements predisposed to us by our natural systems.


CHAOS AND ESSENTIALS

We exist in a field of chaos.  This is not an attempt at melodrama, it is a statement of fact.  The enormous complexities of unfathomable processes colliding and interacting in tandem at any given time in the universe are simply beyond the scope of our organics to comprehend at once.  To penetrate into even a quarter of these known fields within our current calibration would overwhelm the brain to such an extent that we would no longer be able to operate intelligently.  To account for these complexities and still operate as an effective organism, would make us an altogether different species than human.

Despite the magnificent sophistication of the human design, we have simply not evolved to account for this level of complexity in the sensory kingdoms, so our brains' must carefully discriminate between what is necessary and what is unnecessary in order to create a discernable and consistent impression of our living space.  Nobody sees reality incarnate. We see an "all-too-human" reality forged out of the complicated dynamics of our organic systems and calibrated in such a way as to filtrate the sensory information contained within our space into what is most important and discard the rest.

This is the great problem for the brain. As we have already mentioned several times, a large part of the brains' prerequisite drive is to discover new information about the world.  But the arena in which it must search for this information is enormously complicated and is in a constant state of change: reality is a labyrinth that is always changing shape.  So, a large part of the function of sight is not to render the world completely as it is but to engage in an active search for what is consistent and essential at any given time and arrange that into a discernible impression of the world.  And as part of its organic heritage, the function of sight is the same as the function of the visual brain: it dissects chaos in an active search for consistencies and essentials.  

We need to be able to extract consistencies out from the labyrinthine streams of complex and ever-changing information in the cosmic arena, and we need to be able to discern the essential components of phenomenological subjects in order to discern their interpretable shape and character.  Thanks to this, we are able to categorise and identify forms, navigate through the sensory web of complex phenomena, and perhaps, most significantly for our inner lives, seize the essential information that is necessary to form the mental maps that we use to strategise and interiorize our way through this life as an intelligent and creative higher organism.

As visual artists, we express this function of sight through the creation of our art.  We do not render the world realistically, even if our respective discipline is aimed to capture the obedience of form, we instead render the world unrealistically so that we can see it for what it is.  We are always recasting the essentials of worldly phenomena into new variations of form life so that our brains can simulate new variations of reality.  Even in more abstract works, we are portraying the forms only by their essential qualities and with just enough consistency to be able to discern them for what they really are.  The ability of art to ''freeze'' these values aids in the function of brain activity to actively search for consistencies and essentials.

It is most interesting to seize upon the fact that visual art can be seen as an extension of the very functions of brain activity in the visual cortex.  And not only this but to go even further and state that one of the primary boons of visual art is its ability to accommodate and accelerate the process of information acquisition by rendering the world in new ways for the creation of alternative maps of potential in the brain.  Artists are the engineers of hybrids that have given rise to the hybrid mind.  By presenting the visual world unrealistically to the visual brain we are reacquainting our major organ with the essential attributes of the physical world, and by further re-rendering them into new and novel forms, we provoke the mind into conceiving of new maps of potential not already rendered our experience of the world.  

Exposure to art aids in the exercise of our intelligence.  Exposure to novelty is known to stimulate the release of noradrenaline in the right hemisphere, and this aids in the expansion of memory and galvanises original and creative thought in the mind.

The search for essentials and the catalysation of memory is also useful in the formation of new artistic systems.  When artists speak of creative "influences" this is what they mean: their minds are relaying to other minds the captured essential and consistent qualities that they discovered in their conscious past to lend clarity as to how they have recast them into new hybrids in their own works of creation.  To this extent, all artists are hybrids of other artists because the creative algorithms that have merged together out of their unique conscious experiences with the creative life of other artists have contributed to the new and novel arrangement of their own designs.  This is a large part of how we create our 'style.'



(The Three Musicians- Pablo Picasso)
NOTE: the 'essence' of three musicians.

The brain has evolved to seek new information to advance its intelligent systems.  As we cooperate with this organic mission as artists, we will not only become more conscientious of the hidden nature of our own discipline but also, in the intelligent appreciation of art in general.  Moreover, we will become better attuned to the powers of our own organism and as more conscientiously creative creatures, we may potentially pass this benefit on to our culture through the parallel maturation of our craft.

In our creative discipline, we must be sensitive to the fact that visual dynamics and human creativity are synchronous and mutable systems within the same organic life.  The modularity of sight will always correspond somehow at the creative level of action because the senses and the evolutionary stratagems of the mind are always in a fluid conversation with each other.  This is of prime importance not only for the purposes of clarifying the subject of our inquiry but also in that this relationship symbolises the signature of our intellectual journey.  Through applying a multi-disciplinary ethos, we are in effect, evoking the intelligent archetypes of the human organism: the neuroscientist, the psychoanalyst, the esotericist, the anthropologist and the artist are all complimented in this process to uncover the secrets of visual dynamics.

Through many different sets of eyes, we interpret the world.  And it is through the symphonic composition of their lenses that we render the subjects of life in their fullest embodiment, mimicking in effect, the dynamic symphony of the body, whose multitudinous components harmonise to inform the energetic experience of human existence.  No art school, to my knowledge, teaches this kind of important instruction to their students.  Seeing is as much as a skill as drawing, and can be as instructive as any work of philosophy if we choose to break the spell of habituation and harness it as the evolutionary power that it truly is.

As we eventually emerge out of the darkness of our metropolitan habits, we become more naturally attuned to an organic mode of living in the world.  Nature has become championed in us, and we will have squandered the fullness of our own organics if we deliberately choose a life of blindness.  As we shall uncover in the next entry, many capable artists still create in blindness, and like all those others in the world whose lives are immersed in it.

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