Proto-objects. Transpositions of Brain Activity. (08/05/2015)

Michael Schwab
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About this presentation

This presentation will introduce the artistic research project ‘Transpositions. Artistic Data Exploration’, a collaboration between Gerhard Eckel, Michael Schwab and David Pirro, which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund. Using recorded data from brain activity in one of its case studies, the project demonstrates how artistic engagement with data can escape the ‘representationalism’ that is often found when data is sonified/visualised adding additional, speculative dimensions to the works that are produced. Using this case study, I aim to demonstrate a ‘gap’ between notions of ‘abstraction’ and ‘the abstract’. In this context, I understand ‘abstraction’ to indicate a representational relationship between source data and target object, where the latter, albeit abstractly, represents qualities of the former. In contrast to this, I understand ‘the abstract’ to denote a thought inscribed in an object that is had in relation to the source data, but which is not already believed to be present in it. ‘The abstract’, thus, exceeds ‘abstraction’ while remaining true to its data. While I hope that a presentation of our work will clearly demonstrate this difference, I will further elaborate on and thus entrench this understanding within a more philosophical horizon. On the one hand, I will relate to notions of ‘figuration’/’the figural’ (Lyotard, Deleuze, Krauss, Didi-Huberman) in order to explain what ‘though’ might mean here – and why it is important to contemporary artists and researchers. On the other hand, using the concept of ‘proto-object’ that I introduced elsewhere as part of an application of ‘experimental systems’ (Rheinberger) to artistic research, I will discuss the precarious status of such abstract objects (‘the abstract’) in so far as they are epistemically under-determined and threatened, in the ‘wrong’ eyes, to be seen, simply, as bad representations.
keywordsTransposition, artistic research, abstract, abstraction, figure, figural, proto-object
copyrightMichael Schwab
placeJacobs University, Bremen
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