V.S. Ramachandran: A Neurological Theory of Artistic Experience

Chris Higgins

If you enjoyed the TED Talk I pointed to last week, How Brain Damage Reveals Brain Function, I have a treat for you. Here's a ninety-minute lecture by the same speaker (V.S. Ramachandran), in which he talks about how the human brain deals with visual art. Why do we enjoy art? How do we know what is "good" art? How does the brain process metaphors? What does neurology tell us about how the brain processes visual information? This is a great way to spend an hour and a half -- it's enlightening, entertaining, and most of all, very flossy. You can watch the video (sadly, in low quality) here, and there's even a link to download it for your iPod.

Representative quote: "The purpose of art is not realism.... The purpose of art is not copying reality. The purpose of art is hyperbole, exaggeration, distortion...to produce pleasing effects in the viewer's brain."

Discussed: Capgras Syndrome, synesthesia, metaphor, Indian art, European art, other art, and the neurology of art. (Also more art.)