[ISEA2010] Keynote: Peter Weibel – The Tongue That Sees: Neuroaesthetics, Molecular Aesthetics and Media Aesthetics

Abstract

Classic media theory, from Bergson to Stiegler, from Freud to McLuhan, is in the main an organological theory of media. Media are interpreted as extensions of the sense organs, with each new medium redefining the relationship of the senses to one another. The synaesthesia of the turn of the century (from Skrjabin to Kandinsky) has opened up the new chapter of „Seeing Sound“ in the avant-garde film of the 20s and 30s, which eventually led to the MTV mainstream. Now we are on the threshold of a material revolution radicalising the synaesthetic programme in which one sense organ (the eye) partially takes over the function of a different sense organ (the ear): Any given sensory organ can take over the functions of any other sense organ. The brain appears to be sufficiently adaptable to allow the networking of all sense organs with each other. What was once seen as a paranormal phenomenon has today entered a phase of technical realisation, due to the promises of biotechnology and information sciences. The discredited Nobel prize laureate Professor Brian Josephson, Director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, has been proven right by the experiments of neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita. In molecular chemistry and in nanotechnology, the utilisation of natural resources, including the human being, is continuously advancing on the micro level of matter. How neuroaesthetics and molecular aesthetics can open up new horizons. And fields of action for media art is the subject of this lecture.

  • Peter Weibel (DE/AT)  is an artist, teacher, and art and media theorist. He has been head of the Centre for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe since 1999. In addition to his artistic and curatorial work, he is known for his border-crossing between art and science.