[ISEA2009] Panel: Barbara Rauch (convener) – Emotion Research Forum

Panel Statement

Without doubt emotions are evolving as they are influenced by culture, context and behaviour. Davic Matsumoto (2007) elucidates these three influences on human emotion. Western and Eastern societies have witnessed change with the use of new technologies. Will our ability to read emotional expressions slowly change with the new communication systems? Might people soon no longer be able to read facial expressions? With the loss of the ability to read an emotion might come too the loss of the experience itself? Steven Pinker (2002, p.40) stresses that emotions and behaviour always represent an Internal struggle’. It is not merely culture and society that directs human behaviour, but the mind has an innate system that generates endless possibilities to choose from.

Emotions and feelings have been studied by some important researchers in the field, including Darwin Damasio, LeDoux, and Ekman. The discussion can now be expanded to include emotion research and emotional responses in Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life, gaming industries, virtual environment studies and augmented reality systems. This research forum brings together leading artists and researchers ir the field of emotion studies. Researchers/artists and curators will debate artworks that primarily address emotions in humans.

  • Medical doctor Rachel Armstrong will introduce her approach to the human body and its experience; through her understanding of material processes. She does not ascribe to the Cartesian mind/body split and considers human experiences to be firmly embedded in the physicality of flesh, without which the brain itself has nothing to ground it in any appreciation of ‘reality’. Consciousness and emotion, in her view, are embodied.
  • Curator Helen Sloan has a history of merging artists with scientists. She will discuss a recent project, Chameleon’, a series of works that draw attention to emotional contagion, highlighting how we innately and continuously synchronize with the facial expressions, voices and postures of others by unconsciously infecting each other with our emotions.
  • Three artists represented at ISEA2009 will discuss in detail how heir work addresses emotion studies. Julie Freeman, Brigitta Zics and Adinda van ‘t Klooster have been invited to present and open their work to the debate.