Articles — November 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Neuronal Aesthetic Plasticity: ‘Does correlation exist between the new level of transience in the experiential info-sphere and an evolved aesthetic relations in the neural networks in the brain?’ / Andrew Denham



This paper examines with fluid intent the scientific field of Neuroaesthetics, a neurologically derived analysis of aesthetic processing through the empirical study of the neural networks in the brain, in an attempt to position the human brain’s cognitive development in an era of mutable media, simultaneous distributed networks, mass commodification of data and perceived open interaction. The intention is to reflect on the implications for the neural networks inherent in the epistemological development of the human brain in a wider socio-cultural context. Here the human brain is seen as dynamically negotiating the influx of multifarious information often externalized through networked communities, technological convergence and media saturation.

Does the brain reconfigure itself, through its neuronal plasticity, in a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience and multiplicity in the experiential info-sphere, and in doing so cannot help but generate a different evolutionary aesthetic paradigm or visual language?

[…] a theoretical framework of neurobiology called neural darwinism or neuroselectionism to construct a means through which an ever-evolving and variable, culturally determined, external objective reality acts to inscribe itself upon the developing brain. [1]  

How does the brain sculpt / restructure itself in response to evolutionary, habitually rapid and simultaneous, techno-cultural data inflection implicit within responsive intelligent systems and distributed / networked media dissemination channels? Does an intellectual response to the question require an adjusted dynamic and malleable aesthetic paradigm implicit in a post-human informational ‘multiplex consciousness’? [2]

Keywords: Neuroaesthetics, Aesthetics, Culturally Sculpted Brain, Cognition, Imagination, Creativity, Perception, Memes.

Introduction: The Mass Commodification of Information

What is one of the ascendant externalized objective realities dominating our socio-cultural mental models and beliefs? The perceived edifying communication practices apparent through social networking and distributed electronic systems fuel an information commodity exchange mediated by intelligent systems and software. The apparent egalitarian manufacture of reapportioned user-generated content is oft considered decentered; depicted as a democratic process of creation, editing and modification (discussed later in this paper through an understanding of the field of memetics), in a remediated ‘remix’ culture promoting the positive value / need of the ‘gift economy.’ Miller extols the virtue of this digital ‘gift economy’ that samples cultural forms / precedents to re-contextualize “psychological collage space” [3] whereby “The mix breaks free of the old associations. New contexts form from old. The script gets flipped. The languages evolve and learn to speak in new forms, new thoughts. The sound of thought becomes legible again at the edge of new meanings.” [4] The idea that the brain, through the process of neurodarwinism, evolves an adaptive experiential semiotic system through the ‘instantiation’ of socio-cultural immaterial relations as expressed in behavioral patterns in mediating the transient info-sphere. It could be argued the communal psyche communicates and mutates networked memetic contagion and socio-cultural precedent through the concurrent mediation of multiple digital transactions across mediums and platforms through a shared sense of self. The notion is that socio-cultural, technological, economic or political immaterial relations, as expressed in a ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes’ [5] in material objects, are a reflection of a reciprocal process between socio-cultural behavioral patterns in societal systems that operate beneath the material surface of these information economies and the adjacent neurodarwinism that evolves the neural substrates in the brain. It is an iterative process, but also cybernetic feedback loop, between immaterial relations, cultural precedence and their material manifestations in a mutual relationship with the neuronal plasticity in the brain.

How truly democratic or autonomous is user-generated content re-appropriated from variable digital data in networked society?

The cultural materialism of Web 2.0 promotes an autonomous ‘gift economy,’ with democratic user-generated content and the networked distribution of differentiated information. However, the use of the term immaterial in reference to the discussion on Web 2.0 endeavors to position the socio-cultural, technological, economic or political immaterial relations that underpin its structural forms, behavioral patterns, aesthetic sensibility and visual language in a wider context. An attempt to explicate socio-cultural behavioral systems, implied user beliefs, innate cultural precedent and the zeitgeist in the collective psyche that underpin its material existence or structural forms. These may include ways of thinking, ways of seeing, methods of acquiring, accessing and interpreting information, visual-cognitive modes of address, ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes,’ [6]ways of societal operation in collective psyche, the innate beliefs these systems propagate and the opaque, unconscious modes of socio-cultural communication patterns in the post-structural multiplicity.

Social networking sites implicit in this mental construct further propagate the communal free-market economy of the Venture Capitalist. Networked communication channels coupled with technological convergence create online user centric collaboration in the guise of blogs, wikis, social networks, mash-ups, file-sharing and RSS feeds, to proffer this implied free market economic ideal, placing user interests at the center of the ethos. Investment from the corporate sector and centralized control / ownership of data flow tells a different story as “Private appropriation of community created value is a betrayal of the promise of sharing technology and free cooperation.” [7] Investment capital in social networking sites may indicate that perceived democratic information exchange conveys a subliminal agenda to requisition user-generated content for commercial / advertising bias and user details to monitor data patterns to devise prospective tactical media stratums.

Critics suggest social networking websites such as Facebook are “a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism” [8] that promotes global free trade to rescind national legislative boundaries and “promises a certain sort of freedom in human relations and business.” [9] Hodgkinson maintains that Facebook deploys “a theory of human behavior called mimetic desire,” [10] which purports the absence of autonomous agency in the collective cultural psyche; flocking sheep blindly following user generated commoditized information in networked brand friendships that fracture the egalitarian ideal proffered by the Venture Capitalist. [11]

This mass exchange of remediated information may initially appear to the user as democratic choice, but this notion is somewhat overridden by the consumption of cultural values in the homogeneous information commodity culture. Kleiner and Wyrick [12] suggest the purported freedom aligned with Web 2.0 technologies, while initially promising the autonomous creation and distribution of discrete information production or customization for the less than computer savvy user, in reality underpins a centralized autocratic delineation or process that subsumes any notion of private ownership of the ‘value added’ public commoditization of personal material. The authors further speculate that the centralized ownership of user-generated material implicit in the Capitalist doctrine is incompatible with decentered user mediated peer-to-peer networks. They go on to argue that commons based peer production is very much reliant on colonized information and technology (hardware and software) secured outside peer-to-peer sources, intimating “peer producers themselves may be explicit in the exploitative capturing of this labour value.” [13]

Given that a significant percentage of user-generated content either follows the templates and conventions set up by the professional entertainment industry or directly reuses professionally produced content, does this mean that people’s identities and imaginations are now even more firmly colonized by commercial media than they were in the twentieth century? In other words, is the replacement of mass consumption of commercial culture in the twentieth century by mass production of cultural objects by users in the early twenty-first century a progressive development? Or does it constitute a further stage in the development of the culture industry […] ? [14]

A Twenty-first Century Mental Construct: Soft Cinema: ‘Navigating the Database’

The collaborative project between media arts and digital cultural theorist Lev Manovich and new media artist and designer Andreas Kratky, along with many other contributors and collectively known as Soft Cinema, conceptualize in their digitally constructed ‘soft(ware) cinema’ DVD / artwork titled Navigating the Database a post-cinematic structural form that dynamically derives variable content from a database driven content production system. [15] The structural form and information retrieval methods the system compiles analogize the neurobiological, techno-cultural inflected evolution of psychological mental constructs in the twenty-first century mind; imitating the methods or strategies we facilitate to privilege, mediate, decode and interpret multifarious networked information. The work ‘instantiates’ the spatially distributed and concurrent information retrieval organized through the mutable database Logic of Selection, [16] to generate a vacillating, often abstracted, narrative structure through the algorithmic mediation of the multimedia database that is derived on rules authored by the designers.

Depicted as an “association machine,” Manovich and Kratky envisage the system operations mirroring human consciousness in semiotic reference to the complex spatial-temporal differentiation and functional specialism inherent in the neural networks of the brain. The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection (TNGS) propagated by Gerald Edelman and Guilio Tononi [17] addresses how the brain works in bringing a unified picture into the conscious mind. Particularly, the much-deliberated ‘binding problem,’ or how the disparate neural networks in the brain come together to form this unified picture in ones consciousness. They assert that, “This is clearly the case for systems like the brain – different areas and groups of neurons do different things (they are differentiated) at the same time they interact to give rise to a unified conscious scene and to unified behaviors (they are integrated).” [18]

Manovich describes the software induced post-cinematic form, also of this project, as the updated film language for the present spatially distributed and networked multifarious information era. The hypothetical envisioning of the mass production of mutable cultural objects and / or objective reality generated through the modern idiom of the database form. The data retrieval is distributed and database driven, to create an assorted diffuse narrative structure for the commoditized self, pertaining to modularized and simultaneous units of ‘multiplex consciousness.’ [19] The database of film clips (four hundred and twenty five in total) are categorized by both ‘content’ (semantic) properties and the relativism of ‘formal’ qualities such as geographical location, motion, brightness, camera orientation or contrast to devise multiplex narrative patterns that formulate an evolved and modulated aesthetic relationship with mediating simultaneous information. [20] The human brain evolves a fractured conscious attention condition prevalent in ‘Continuous Partial Association,’ [CPA] [21] which gestates the psyche “as continually staying busy – keeping tabs on everything while never truly focusing on anything […] when our minds partially attend, and do so continuously, we scan for an opportunity for any type of contact at every given moment.” [22]

The cognitive, perceptual and aesthetic significance of CPA may be a fractured partial conscious attention that undermines the perceived primary task in consciousness. It evolves the brain’s ability to receive, gestate and decode the rapid influx of data and how to ‘read’ the accessed information as knowledge. Narrative is disrupted and the semantics of the story dissipated in facilitating a mutated aesthetics of limited conscious attention and little self-gestation in the ‘multiplex consciousness.’ [23]  In an era of unprecedented social and technological change, the logic of speed updated for the mutable, variable and concurrent reading of diffuse digital information works to expedite an evolved aesthetic relationship in reading the experiential transient info-sphere.

Within Navigating the Database no two narratives are the same, as the software is programmed to interpolate the story with key points to counter the narrative becoming too fragmented or dissipated. The author specifies inter-connections, some based on user decisions, while others are random as the computational parameters are “edited on the fly by [the] software, so it runs forever.” [24] Is this the entropic fracture of information in a self-organizing hermetic system? The continual reconfiguration and visual-aural communication of the very same multi-sensorial data, albeit in different juxtapositions or remixes, but with the same underlying data driven structural system.  As Miller venerates “languages evolve and learn to speak in new forms, [with] new thoughts.”

If we accept that digital data is variable, mutable and often mediated by intelligent algorithms in the transient info-sphere, the envisaged neurological correlate is the possible lack of conversion of the multi-sensory data into anything that emerges or evolves beyond remediated and homogenized digital forms or standardized creative thought processes in the collective mind. This idea has a metaphorical and physiological connection with hybrid homogenized neural networks in the brain that underpin cognitive functionality and aesthetic processing of the visual world. That is, the reciprocal process between entropic immaterial relations underpinned by socio-cultural and technological memetic contagion or cultural precedent, as expressed in the adaptive mental models we construct in networked digital connections; and the ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes’ in the neural networks of the human brain that facilitate reading, decoding and interpreting the visual world, as externalized in socio-cultural behavioral patterns and an information biased materiality.

The author articulates the cinematic screen is based not on the early twentieth century modernist ideal of montage, but on the various sized multi-windowed GUI of the networked computer; mediating simultaneous data retrieval from multifarious sources. The narrative structure imitates current distributed and simultaneous user behavior in networked society (‘memes – copy, vary and reselect – thus neuroselectionism in practice through cultural contagion); theoretically pulling divergent information, often semantically connected, from decentered or parallel operating systems and / or servers. Form and content expression are integrated equal parts negotiating the algorithmic parameters, imposed by the creator, yet relinquishing some autonomy to the computer program to replicate the mind metaphorically contextualized as networked society. “If daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous messages is part of our new ‘data subjectivity,’ how can we visualize this subjectivity in new ways using new media – without resorting to the already normalized techniques of montage, surrealism and the absurd?” [25] Manovich in his work could be seen to model the neuronal plasticity of the twenty-first century mind through the temporal-spatial intercession of the distributed multimedia database to symbolize an evolved visual language and aesthetic sensibility. However, does this process absolve the user of independent decision-making and give partial sovereignty to the application / software for the decision-making methodology?

This technology led post-human condition that absolves decisions about the semantic and contextual importance and value of ideas to intelligent systems (discussed as ‘temes’ later in the article) has parallels with Navigating the Database, about which Manovich described as representative of “the subjective experience of a person living in a global information society.” [26] However, this ‘info-aesthetics,’ to use Manovich’s terminology, comes with or after the ‘remix’ and has a neural correlation with how we mediate, decode and interpret data subjectivity in the transient experiential info-sphere. It is proposed that neuronal plasticity in the brain develops and adapts to mirror how we respond to and process techno-cultural multifarious information in the mutual symbiotic relationship actualized through the cybernetic feedforward and feedbackward between immaterial relation and info-actuated aesthetic materiality.

How may we envision the fragmented, somewhat partial or concurrent, mental operations and social behavior of multiple users within networked societies? How do we test or capture their perceptible ‘data subjectivity’ and negotiation of data debris prevalent in the mass commoditized flows of cultural information? How may we mediate or subvert the mass production of cultural value in the free market economy that perpetrates autonomy yet may stifle creative intent? This question will be debated at a later juncture in the ‘stifling creativity’ subsection of the paper.

[…] if you accept the initial premise of the selections paradigm, that the brain is sculpted by the external reality in which it is embedded, as if you accept those material relations, as they express themselves in art, architecture, and media culture, are the result of social, political, economic, and technological relations that interact to produce them, then it is not a difficult leap of faith to accept the position that the neuronal structure – neural networks that express themselves as local and global mappings – have been indirectly prescribed by those immaterial relations. That is to say, that culture, encoded through aesthetic relations, inscribes itself upon the brain. [27] 


It is necessary at this juncture to review some of the key exponents in the field of Neuroaesthetics and their oft dialectical arguments for a neurological correlation of aesthetic processing, derived from either a neuroscientific perspective, an artistic stance or sometimes referencing both viewpoints.

The premise that empirical research underpinning Neuroaesthetics (Zeki, 1999; [28] Ramachandran & Hirstein, 1999; [29] Ramachandran, 2005 [30]) infer artists manipulate the visual system as intuitive neuroscientists to maneuver audience perception and cognitive interpretation to “explor[e] the potentials and capacities of the brain, though with different tools. How such creations can arouse aesthetic experiences can only be fully understood in neural terms.” [31] Some may construe this assertion as a very bold, if not somewhat narrow statement to proffer, on both neuroscientific and artistic grounds (see extensive criticisms about reductionist generalizations and scientific misappropriation evidenced in the work of John Hyman). [32] What about the re-contextualizing, remediating tools used in current artistic practice (and on the fly in networked connections), for example, sampling, editing and remixing, or the role of the audience as cultural producers of objects mediated by distributed communication dissemination channels? Can aesthetic processing and visual language be understood in purely neuronal terms?

Culture turned in on itself, colonized sampling of diffuse information that, to use a Miller expression, ‘flips’ the context through peer-to-peer responsive systems to procure new bastardized and modular cultural forms in what comes after the ‘remix.’ New modes of thought and mediation / visual processing of vast quantities of disparate incoming data is based on new socio-cultural precedents: skimming, rapid scanning, mimetic behavior and the mental digestion of large volumes of fractured information. How do the emergent socio-cultural behavioral patterns in mediating the transient info-sphere correlate with the evolving neural networks that resonate in the human brain? The heightened neuronal stimulation gleaned from the ubiquity of concurrent and rapid mediation of distributed information networks is seen to sculpt synaptic plasticity in the brain. Self-reflection is negated as “everything, everywhere, is connected through our peripheral attention.” [33] The causal reflex of networked peripheral attention, the metaphorical and literal search for the next buzz, point of contact or gratification, actuate ‘Continuous Partial Attention’ (CPA) in the collective cultural psyche to reflect the impact of said socio-cultural behavioral patterns in the experiential info-sphere on how ‘digital natives’ read, decode, interpret and apprehend visual information / the visual world. The brain replicates the abstract narrative flows of information retrieval or cultural forms to facilitate evolved modes of visual address, cognitive functionality and aesthetic sensibility.

It is suggested CPA or peripheral attention may change the way the brain processes multi-sensory information in a ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes’ external to the art object itself transposed laterally to the way we read materiality adjacent to the info-sphere or digital connectivity. It is external in the sense that online networked socio-cultural behavioral patterns or systems of processing information, for example, how the eye reads information in an ‘F’ shape in mediating web content, may have a direct assimilation (inter-connection, reciprocal, fluid and not mutually exclusive) with offline reading and interpretation of the visual world. Do we read a painting differently off-screen than on-screen and are adaptive mental constructs in the online reading of the visual image having a direct correlation with our offline aesthetic experience? That is, the manifestation of immaterial relations (social, cultural, political, economic or technological) in the neural networks of the brain that progress our visual language and aesthetic appreciation of socio-cultural objective reality (included in this reality are art objects and culturally produced artifacts).

“One overall function, common to both [brain and art], makes the function of art an extension of the function of the brain: the acquisition of knowledge, an activity in which the brain is ceaselessly engaged.” [34] “The characteristic of an efficient knowledge-acquiring system, faced with permanent change, is its capacity to abstract, to emphasize the general at the expense of the particular.” [35] To find the essence in an art / cultural object, yet also in externalized objective reality:

[… ] to be able to identify the constant, essential properties of objects and surfaces, to discount and sacrifice all the information that is not of interest to it in obtaining that knowledge, and to compare the selected information with its stored record of past visual information, and thus identify and categorize an object or scene. [36]

The neurological system of operation in the brain, pertaining to the visual and emotional brain, is made overt to authenticate “the function of art as being a search for constancies, which is one the most fundamental functions of the brain.” [37] That is, the validation of higher-order cognitive functionality in the brain that searches for ‘knowledge constancies,’ not exclusively in the art world, but for purposeful recognition in the verification of the everyday object, a table for example. It is a modular Neuroaesthetic paradigm that examines the neuronal activation in the brain’s distributed neural networks to procure a bottom-up scientific approach to the problem of knowledge acquisition and a neurological correlation of aesthetic experience. The differentiated local functional specialism implicit in the visual brain, for example color or form, stimulates neuronal activation in the primary visual cortex V1, in league with the global, spatially distributed, cohesive binding of the affiliated neuronal group. 

[…] the brain handles different attributes of the visual scene in different geographically distinct, subdivisions, that vision is therefore organized along a parallel, modular system. A case can then be made for the further supposition that I am proposing here, that aesthetics itself is modular. [38]

However, neuroscientist and artist Neidich [39] offers a more holistic artistic-scientific approach to examine “how art can investigate the brain” [40] and “why artists are interested in neuroscience,” as it “allows artists to expand what an art object may be.” Neidich appears to interpret Zeki’s Neuroaesthetics theory as procuring a scientific understanding of the neural networks in the visual brain and associated visual cortex and is therefore somewhat reductionist or modular in its search for the ‘knowledge constancies’ of art objects or aesthetic processing: “the paradigmatic attempt to utilize the experiential through parcelization of the brain.” [41] Neidich’s proposed theory of ‘the cultured brain,’ and thus adjacent to Neuroaesthetics, is non-linear, decentered and spatially abstracted to “create new objects, new object relationships,” [42] as evidenced in the collaborative arts / science project Society of Neurons. [43] How does the spatially distributed neuronal plasticity the brain experiences through the neurological process of ‘Experiential Selection’ [44] evolve aesthetic processing that has to mediate conjoint digital stimulation in networked cyberspace? The dynamic mental processes create new remediated combinations, new variability, new thoughts and social behavioral patterns: dynamic, fractured and simultaneous in rapid reentrant interaction replicating the functional specialism and global ‘binding’ of the brain’s self-organizing system.

“But the inestimable value of variable subjective experiences should not distract from the fact that, in executing his work, Michelangelo instinctively understood the common visual and emotional organization and workings of the brain.” [45] In the present socio-cultural climate of rapid technological shifts in mediating information, how does the present day artist instinctively understand the “the twenty-first century self … so fully immersed in and defined by the data that surrounds it, we are entering an era of multiplex consciousness.” [46] The brain is envisioned as a distributed network that arbitrates the shifting cultural surfaces of multiplicity to form evolutionary mental constructs or social behavioral patterns. Neidich employs “the expression ‘Centripetal Palimpsest’ to describe this process through which objects evolve as they pass through the constantly evolving social, political, technologic and cultural contexts,” to juxtapose developmental (additive) growth relational to oppositional growth (removal) in the brain. [47]

Perhaps this notion perpetuated by Zeki is prejudiced in limiting the neurological study to predominantly static visual art, extrapolating constancies or essences of an objective reality or art object through the deconstructed quantitative analysis of the neural networks in the visual brain, unequivocally conceptualized and contextualized in the socio-cultural period of origin. To re-iterate, Zeki seeks a neurological / aesthetic correlation of the brain, in opposition to the Neuroaesthetics theory propagated by Neidich that looks at socio-cultural, economic, political and technological immaterial changes that evolve the ontology of the art object (in material and metaphysical terms). How does culture inflect these immaterial relations in the neural networks and higher-order cognitive processes inherent in the operational substrates in the brain? Repeat: The implication is that the brain reconfigures itself in a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience in the experiential info-sphere, and in doing so cannot help but generate a different evolutionary aesthetic paradigm or arts appreciation.

Hypothetically speaking a cybernetic loop of feedback and feedforward relations could link alterations in the morphology of the art object to similar changes in the morphology of the brain. It is conceivable that the evolution of the brain as it is reconfigured in the ascent of man is based on waves of changes in the outside world, which, as we know today, are culturally configured.” [48]

How does higher-order cognitive functionality (judgments, perceptions, reasoning, understanding, mnemonic recall) in the neural networks in the brain negotiate and mediate responsive information systems affected by the user in this culturally induced ‘cybernetic loop of feedback and feedforward relations?’ The mutability and temporal non-linearity in digital media and distributed networks positions the user as an active participant in the responsive narrative to enable the spatial exploration of the encoded collective cultural psyche in the ‘dendrite pathways’ within the intelligent application (behavior, rules, processes, output, sharing, aesthetic processing). “The central illusion of interactive media is to persuade us that we are inside the field of representation, that the representation only speaks when we are actively engaged with it. This means that rather than being passive receivers of a message … we are active participants within a situation.” [49]

Historical precedent for non-linearity and psycho-perceptual stimulation of the concurrent amalgam of past, present and future consciousness is evidenced in the innovative work of avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs. Mnemonic recall, perceptual interpolation and the prevalent social behavior / mental agency of fragmented, rapid mediation of information and / or media saturation that predate the digital era, are expressed in emulsion film through manipulation of the user’s cognitive wherewithal to “[mediate] gaps in the flow of experience.” [50] “The mechanically driven intermittent system provides a path on which the audience moves forward conceptually, at the same time encountering images from the past.” [51]

Jacobs deploys his cinematic invention ‘Nervous System’ [52] to reconfigure past, present and future consciousness in the spectators’ subjective psyche, willing the audience to become part of the aesthetic process. The deconstruction of semiotic meaning through the stripping back of re-appropriated footage into discrete units, no less similar than modular units of digitized media. “Each frame becomes a digital switch, a stop-start decision making junction, a site of ‘commotion’ and interaction.” [53] Zeroes and ones, true or false, a pseudo-algorithmic dual conscious attention switching system adeptly applied through mechanical means. The spectator is psychologically positioned ‘inside the field of representation’ in a two way process of experiential experimentation: the perceptual and / or cognitive manipulation of context, narrative and ‘virtual [mental] landscape’ of the brain through the symbiotic relationship of audience, deconstructed film footage, technological convergence and orchestrated projectionist.

The dual screen, binocular conjunctions and constant ‘feedforward’ and ‘feedbackward’ of frames (not looping), implicit in the manipulation of analog data, serve as a precursor for the multiplicitous consciousness in the fractured ascent of the “the twenty-first century self […] so fully immersed in and defined by the data that surrounds it, we are entering an era of multiplex consciousness.” [54] Jacobs manipulates, mixes and edits on the fly, in mutable, modular and discrete reconfigurations of acquired film footage to re-contextualize semiotic meaning. The spectator then proceeds to fill in the gaps in recognition in this extended version of cinema. A malleable, dynamic, cybernetic, fusion aesthetics, intimate with the spectators perceptual intuition.

‘Culturally Sculpted Brain’: Is This a Transcendent Aesthetics?

A new composite aesthetic paradigm to negotiate / process the distributed fluid informational forms / structures / things / objective reality that inflect or advance our evolutionary mental constructs and belief systems in networked ‘multiplex consciousness.’ The aesthetic experience is excessive in image consumption and visual saturation, mutating beyond previous limits or volumes of information mediation and absorption. It is a huge amount of interconnected, often simultaneous, multifarious information to take on board driven by technological abetment and dispensed through intelligent systems. This is the ‘zeitgeist,’ the spirit of digital connectedness in the networked ether for the age of the computer screen. The mediation of all this information is deemed beyond dual consciousness; it is a consciousness to the power of ‘n,’ almost unconscious or metaphysical in the memetic and socio-cultural contagion: the development of a transcendent aesthetic vernacular whereby “languages evolve and learn to speak in new forms, new thoughts” [55] materialized in conjunctive, responsive and fluid aesthetic ‘instantiations.’

It is possible that the present Neuroaesthetics theoretical supposition may preclude several latent investigative pathways customary within user-generated content for the networked society, ubiquitous in distributed communication systems; and in doing so require an adjusted aesthetic theory to correlate the immaterial relations in mediating the experiential info-sphere and emergent mental constructs congruous in new ways of negotiating, extrapolating and ‘reading’ diffuse information. In other words, the commoditization or remediation of information foresees a socio-cultural “representation that models human thought as a distributed network,” [56] creating a new, fractured aesthetic model. The singular intent of an artist working within an arts movement to envision socio-cultural, political or economic ideals / ethos, despite due diligence to historic and technological precedence, may be deemed in opposition to the commoditization of contemporary art practice into value added commercial assets. As tools in the networked digital realm evolve through technological innovation, the role of the artist evolves and / or mutates to render output that is variable, decentered, (often) fluid, reciprocal, emergent, interactive or responsive and invariably user centric or event driven in one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many transaction communications.

The peer-to-peer network culture – in which digital flux personas create on-the-fly remixes out of all kinds of distributed media fictions being invented by Net artists themselves – influences the ever-morphing artificial intelligentsia that is continually shape-shifting its avant presence in this consensual hallucination we call cyberspace. [57] 

The re-appropriation of culture and identity, differentiated through intelligent responsive systems, extract user-generated content, often acquired from a commercial basis to engulf our collective cultural consciousness.

The experiential responsive data feedback and feedforward in contemporary interactive digital art and social networking sites between system[s] and user[s] exposits that a current Neuroaesthetics paradigm should concede the audience is often an involved, active participant in the conjoint narration process and no longer a passive observer. The reciprocal process of mediating heterogeneous information constructs has evolved communication and interaction beyond that rather defined or static author (parent) / reader (child) relationship. The equality of sampled, content-driven, bastardized, edited (often on the fly), mutated, remixed, often commercially existing material may only be achieved through the literal and metaphorical change in how networked communication technology defines new ways of reading, decoding, reconfiguring and redistributing complex structures of multifarious information in a post-human condition zeitgeist.

[…] social, cultural, and individual transformations that have exploded the borders between reflection and experience, identity and singularity, the body and its mechanization, and the public sphere and the pseudo-spheres of electronic collectivity. [58] 

If, as implied, culturally determined objective reality reconfigures the collective consciousness through information colonization, memetic contagion, social behavioral patterns and immaterial relations concretized in ‘a genealogy of aesthetic changes,’ it may be assumed nativistic cultural practice / social behavior and the embedded culturally aligned aesthetic experience is being encoded within the neural networks of the brain. The respondent / user affect the narrative construct from ‘inside the field of representation’ [59] – negotiating, mediating, responding and selecting to reconcile disparate data – duly theorized as the free-market information economy of sampling, re-appropriation of mixed media, re-contextualization, remix, hypertextual navigation of non-representational space and open source software. New socio-cultural behavioral patterns inscribed in the brain, parley divergent and differentiated data, that again reference the metaphoric brain as a dispersed distributed system of differentiated information upload and retrieval. Again repeat: The implication is that the brain reconfigures itself as a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience in the experiential info-sphere, and in doing so cannot help but generate a different evolutionary aesthetic paradigm or psychology of art appreciation.

The Externalization of Self in the Digital Realm

Does the cultural prevalence in commoditized, often remediated material, exchanged through networked material transactions conspire to rid us of the inner thought process? Or, to put it another way, are these interactions facilitating concrete visualized information communications, externalized and accessible to the masses, but frequently requisitioned and remixed from pre-existing commercial data that nullify creative autonomy? Brown [60] argues biological memory virtualizes objective reality into a subjective semiotic language that facilitates abstracted thought and imagined future contexts.  However, Brown [61] positions his argument such that in the digital era we have lost the desire and / or will to navigate our private neural substrates (biological virtual landscapes) to mediate the experiential epistemological pathways harnessed within. Inner thoughts externalized and documented through digital media storage devices / systems: “What before was ephemeral, transient, incapable and invisible became permanent, mappable and viewable.” [62]

The notion of the technologically enhanced digital mnemonic system is evidenced in the Microsoft funded MyLifeBits project, that has thus far recorded every digital transaction of participant Graham Bell during a six-year period up to and including March 2007. [63] The premise cited by the authors is to imitate the brain’s associative thinking (read memetic cultural contagion), functionally specialized and spatially distributed, with much the same conjecture as ventured by Manovich in the Soft Cinema project. The ‘computing ecosystem’ facilitates the holistic externalization of ones very life to “enhance personal reflection” and augment medical benefits and cognitive memories. [64] However, the hypothesized scenarios used to demonstrate future contexts state the potential problems for the system with regard to the requirement for greater storage capacity, the inherent obsoleteness in digital data / media systems (software and hardware), the centralized system of control and the cautionary menace of identity theft.

The “constant broadcasting of one’s life” [65] through such intelligent applications may abdicate critical decisions to algorithmic procedure and as an upshot the human psyche operates in the rose tinted past that makes former internal memories explicit and externalized, but disavows the ability of the biological brain to navigate the inner substrates of the mind to recollect, re-contextualize and re-envision memorial account. The mass commoditization of biological memorial account then, externalized, re-edited, manipulated and modified for presentation purposes, is separated out from the imaginative abstraction of thought that formulates internalized non-procedural narrative constructs. The literal and metaphorical transformation in the aggregate mind that demands explicitness of instruction to function in a post-human condition that wants the system or technological other to take the strain for cognitive functionality. Is this abstruse cognitive and perceptual disseverance a composite intelligence standardized for the commoditized answer to the comfortable question that formulates variable degrees of mind dependent on the level of one’s technological sustenance?

Despite the deployment of intelligent systems to quantify and search information semantically, is this really how we wish to remember the past? Is this not just a bit moribund or anodyne? “Hence the objectification of internal, private mental processes, and their equation with external visual forms which can be easily manipulated, mass produced, and standardized on its own.” [66] Manovich proceeds to cite the historical and cultural precedent in Cognitive Psychology, along with other noteworthy past metaphoric or symbolic examples, to paradigmatically envision the human mind as an information processing system.

What can one make of this apparently unsound, yet irresistible, assumption of isomorphism between the mental processes of reasoning and external, technologically generated visual forms […] The conflation of outside and inside is, of course, symptomatic of the desire to project the inside onto the outside, to make it objective and public. [67]

Zeki and his somewhat reductionist neuroscientific theory of the visual and emotional brain, propagated in Neuroaesthetics, unveils but a part of the complexities of the cybernetic central nervous system in unison with external objective reality. For example, how the ‘binding problem’ may synthesize the metaphysical and the material in conscious attention to take account of the ontology of the art object, immaterial relations as expressed in ‘a genealogy of aesthetic changes,’ ways of reading and processing materiality in an era of unprecedented speed and technological transmutation, and the psychology of art appreciation in the twenty-first century mind may transcend the established theories of ‘Nativistic Perception’ and ‘Directed Perception.’ [68]

The idea of metaphor to imagine the cultural psyche, often historically based on the dominant visual or technological communication systems in that period, is continued by Brown [69] who perceives hope for the current digital epoch:

 If metaphors are needed for the new Digital Age it seems they should help us to re-sensitize us to the power and flexibility of our own visual memory system – repossessing it and our natural ability to virtualize things into memory. In this sense cyberspace is really psychic space – being the inner landscape made visible by digital technology and then globalized. Today, the medium of visual communication really is the power of mind stimulated by symbols.” [70] 

Arguably this is advocating that the sub-conscious is in fact a Jungian archetype pool that we all dip into and that current technology is allowing projection outside, the exposed and visible ‘inner substrates,’ to propose we are essentially as a race being facilitated or enabled in revealing our ‘dirty washing’ in public. [71]

However, the socio-cultural evolution expediting evolved mental constructs or abstracted thinking in the reading and aesthetic processing of the visual world must be placed in context of current tenets for mediating information environments / systems. Methods of reading information patterns become fragmented, decentered, transient and somewhat fickle. The ubiquitous process of skimming information gleaned through the rapid intuitive sifting of distributed data networks underpins visceral socio-cultural experience within the experiential info-sphere. The abstracted navigation of divergent information from variable media networks or channels that in the process construct temporary holding structures, for example web-pages, once again visualize the web / brain metaphor for the visual-cognitive modes of address in mediating the info-sphere as a distributed network of digital connections in non representational transient space. The variable data is received from disparate servers and then on the next user click the transient page is dissipated. We see the metaphorical correlate between the ‘binding problem,’ that articulates consciousness through the neural plasticity of the brain in reading the distributed nodes in visual culture / differentiated information, and the envisioning of digital networked contagion in the transient info-sphere.

The tailored customization of culture and selfhood through remediated data is evidenced in the interface adaptation of mobile devices and electronic media, very much based on generic templates and a sold notion of perceived autonomy. How are these cultural shifts in mediating information patterns, through transmuted social and psychological states, permeating the functional brain to formulate an aesthetic appreciation of the arts and objective reality?

The negotiation of simultaneous distributed information may evolve temporal-spatial mental constructs that sculpt the brain in fractured information arbitration pathways. The abstractive mediation of shifting data constructs lauds “the bodiless [ethereal] exaltation of cyberspace […] and a contempt for the flesh,” [72] yet conversely resonates a complex dichotomized contradiction in explicit culturally determined media commoditization / saturation. Intuitive problem solving is enabled through rapid assessment and verification of incoming information, but is the story lost in the virtual mist? The unrelenting speed of incoming data pulsates through simultaneous distributed networks and media channels to provoke an argument that in young children their natural perceptual learning patterns are being severely violated by information overload. [73] Devoid of self-reflection, the cognitive behavior conciliating socio-cultural patterns may take the meditative decision-making process away from the doused mind.

As formerly described in the work of Manovich, the mass-commoditization of cultural objects concretized in the customization or remediation of discrete, mutable, personalized digital information in multifarious electronic transactions is one of the ascendant externalized objective realities that dominate our socio-cultural mental models and beliefs. This personalized tailoring of content is disseminated through the continual reconfiguration of syntax, form and context determined by pre-existing templates, algorithmic procedure and autocratic centralized corporate agency. The synaptic pathways exchange electrical information constructs at rapid speeds to render instinctive problem solving, yet to the possible detriment of contemplative self-reflective thinking. This in turn leads to the evolutionary modification of our central nervous system. The externalization of digitized and extrapolated multiple self-identities make it hard to delineate the real and the fictitious. Whether this procures deterministic (read parcelization) and standardized evolution in the neural networks in the brain needs to be considered most diligently through the study of the behavioral praxis in the mediation of the flows of data in the info-sphere and the modes of visual-cognitive address in reading these diffuse information patterns.

Memes, or Is It Now Temes?

Does this indeterminate abstracted reading of multiplex data flows create an information aesthetics desensitizing our collective cultural psyche; to disable the richness of perceptual variability as the post-human commodification of self / identity conspires to replicate non-specific, homogeneous cultural memes (ideas or socio-cultural precedent) in the imagining mind?

There are a number of pertinent questions that need addressing. What is a meme? What significance do memes have to the philosophical study of the ‘culturally sculpted brain?’ What are the cognitive implications for the human brain that reconfigures itself in a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience in the experiential info-sphere? How does the field of ‘memetics’ throw light on the cultural evolution hypothesis implicit in visualizing the human brain as a distributed network, one that mimics user behavior in networked electronic society? Arguably, visualizing societal practice / traits as a distributed network is probably a memeplex itself. Does this facilitate the adjusted dynamic and malleable aesthetic paradigm proffered in the abstract to this paper? In attempting to answer these questions, let’s re-examine Neidich’s culturally inflected neural Darwinism premise.

 If you accept the initial premise of the selectionist paradigm, that the brain is sculpted by the external reality in which it is embedded, as if you accept those material relations, as they express themselves in art, architecture, and media culture, are the result of social, political, economic, and technological relations that interact to produce them, then it is not a difficult leap of faith to accept the position that the neuronal structure – neural networks that express themselves as local and global mappings – have been indirectly prescribed by those immaterial relations. That is to say, that culture, encoded through aesthetic relations, inscribes itself upon the brain. [74]

The theoretical principle implicit in memetics or memes is the cultural evolution of behavior or concepts through imitation or copy, distinct from genealogy, “when one species becomes capable of behavioral imitation, or some other process that makes copying with variation and selection possible. This creates a new replicator that makes the evolution of culture inevitable.” [75] The term ‘memes’ was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to “emphasize the importance of thinking about evolution in terms of information […] and he called the information that is copied the replicator.” [76] Memetics is adjacent to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection that genotypes are information instructions (DNA) that follow an algorithmic procedure to copy / imitate, vary / mutate and select. The subsequent selection or possible mutation transpires through vehicles, such as human beings, explicated in physical properties known as phenotypes, to assess fitness of purpose for survival in the environment.

Memes are often described as parasitic or viral and Blackmore highlights the danger of the cultural contagion of imitative behavioral or informational patterns to emphasize the “important transition from memes copied by human brains to information copied by technology other than human brains,” [77] say through intelligent systems or artificial intelligence. This will absolve the role of selective replicant from human kind to independent ‘temesystems where “arguably the most significant shift […] is when the processes of variation and selection, as well as those of copying and storage, move from human meme machines to new teme machines.” [78] How do imitation or copy, variation or mutation and selection of socio-cultural ideas, beliefs or systems reverberate in the networked society where new mental constructs and social behavioral patterns are sculpting the innate neural networks in the human brain: our visual cultural relations and aesthetic processing? Simultaneous distributed networks, Internet searching, social media networking, psychological behavioral systems, ‘continuous partial association,’ remediated re-appropriation of existing material and multiplex sampling are all mental or social constructs, or possibly a unified collective cultural psyche, that satisfy the imitation, vary and select theory implicit in memetics theory and thus in aesthetic processing. At this juncture it should be made apparent that memetics as a scientific field is in its infancy and has many skeptics, far too numerous to mention in the context of this paper, who denounce the fused amalgam theoretical supposition. Theoretical hypothesizes are hard to validate and empirical experiments often transient or immaterial and thus difficult to substantiate.

Are the replicates or vehicles in the current mutable digital milieu actually technologically selective teme machines, copying or imitating units of commoditized socio-cultural user information devised from pre-existing templates and mimetic behavior? The ensuing mutation / selection process reaffirms the mass production of cultural objects or a generic objective reality that regurgitates an analogous cultural information memotype. The brain, then, can be thought of as a distributed networked of simultaneous, often saturated local and global information channels, which sample and re-distribute the multiplicitious variability of the same information. Furthermore, intelligent systems that use algorithmic procedure to imitate existing user behavior and data constructs take the strain and create metamorphose artifacts, transient and ephemeral; yet are externalized through media storage systems.

Brown [79] advocates the need to navigate our internal virtual landscapes in juxtaposition with digital mnemonic devices, but what if we have already abdicated responsibly for the human brain’s cognitive wherewithal to intelligent autonomous teme machines that copy, vary and select our future cultural contagion? Socio-cultural traits or immaterial relations are imitated and passed on through the mutated replication of human behavioral systems and mappable artifacts that are selectively dependent on teme machines for variation or survival. That is, teme machines sampling and remixing material and, through implication, immaterial relations to realign our synaptic pathways, by way of incongruous methodologies in as yet to be fully seen or understood hybrid contexts. Aesthetic relations or visual systems encoded or culturally sculpted in the brain that through trial and error are neurocapatible, but the fusion of both human memetic replicants and technological selective temes may facilitate a manifold homogeneous techno-cultural mind.

Remediated Innovative Ideation or a Homogenized Creativity?

This throws up a core question that needs addressing in the remit of the paper: Is memetic cultural contagion stifling creative intent or fostering innovative conceptual mutation within remix culture, to formulate an evolutionary aesthetic relations in visual culture, depicted by Miller as ‘psychological collage space?’ [80]

Let us start with Miller’s positive spin on the this twenty-first century ‘multiplex consciousness,’ as expressed or signified through the collective cultural psyche in the globalized networked society, simultaneously negotiating and mediating the concurrent synchronous and asynchronous transient info-sphere.  Concomitantly absorbed and isolated in the flow of differentiated distributed information in peer-to-peer networks of exchange: ideas, duality, multiplicity and re-appropriation of information to formulate new ways of mediating, seeing and visualizing the info-sphere. “Identity is about creating an environment where you can make the world act as your own reflection.” [81]

Rhythm science builds on the early successes of file sharing to create a milieu where people can exchange culture and information at will and create new forms, new styles and new ways of thinking. The DJ spreads the memetic contagion, a thought storm brought about by annoyance and frustration with almost all the conventional forms of race, culture and class hierarchies. […] Culture in this milieu affects a dialectical triangulation. [82] 

Although Miller is talking about multiple, variable, encoded cultural and ethnic deposits / references in a socially distributed, but differentiated musical consciousness or information exchange, this memetic edict might equally be applied to any autonomous, self-organizing system, whether biological or technological in structural organization. The local functional specialism and global distributed integration or ‘binding’ web metaphor innate in networked society, with its overriding ‘self-organizing capacity,’ underscores how art or design may envision or treat socio-cultural behavior patterns or aesthetic relations. Cultural evolution that creates, as Miller would say, ‘flipped’ or transmuted dendrite pathways that repudiate the mass commoditization of cultural practice or standardized memetic behavior:

 […] that in using the network to make and distribute work, to communicate, to collaborate and organise politically, Internet artists are attempting to understand and describe the invisible processes and [immaterial] relations inherent in complex systems, and to develop a sufficient knowledge to create alternative networks – complex [distributed] systems – of their own. [83] 

The question is how to desist or withstand commoditized cultural information exchange, construed as homogenized memetic contagion, to foster ‘dialectical triangulation’ from the innate contradictions that encompass the spatial and differentiated info-sphere. How does the collective cultural psyche defy standardized memeplexes – a perceived variant of socio-cultural and technological determinism? The necessity to mediate informational patterns and flows that dynamically envision the transient networked milieu in our cognitive mental models – decentered, ephemeral and hard to categorize or pin down – only to subvert or remix existing capital market forces and mutate socio-cultural human behavior to reconcile these invisible and immaterial processes or relations. “Not surprisingly then, Internet art is a cultural form that seems to engage the spaces of its contradiction, stretching them as far as possible.” [84] The premise that temes, already confluent in the intelligent systems, algorithmic operation and social media constructs on the web, will enable or select latent or mutant, as yet unimagined techno-spheres of information in the post-human ‘multiplex consciousness.’

The role of Net art to interrogate or conciliate shifting socio-cultural and technological diffusion (variable and mutable in form and function) in mediating and reading transient ‘immaterial networks’ is evident in the work of Kate Southworth and co-collaborator Patrick Simons in the guise of the ‘glorious ninth.’ The distributive artwork Love_Potion (2005 – 2007), physical and virtual in its manifestation, aims to position the work outside mass commodified free market cultural practices; to decentralize ownership or colonization of information and ultimately free identity.

A distributive artwork is made from many discrete [heterogeneous] elements organised and  framed by protocol. It is devised so that participants – in their own time and space – can enact the work through some kind of engagement with one or more of its elements. A distributive artwork, then, dwells in many places and times simultaneously, and slips away from attempts to bring it together within a centrally organised frame and form. [85] 

The work described as counter-narrative or counter-protocol exposits an ethos that encourages “Encounter without attempting to assimilate, master, control or reject the other, everyday artworks draw on that part of the human psyche that evades commoditisation and resists colonisation.” [86] An antithesis to commodified cultural practice or uniform behavioral precedent (memetic contagion), Love_Potion attempts to disassociate itself from the homogeneous. The idea is to facilitate a self-initiated conceptual demarcation, the participant as curator and artist, autonomous in its platform, aesthetic sensibility and contextual application. The distributive form of the artwork “promotes the relational concepts of cooperation, collaboration, participation, sharing and community whilst being rigidly controlled by what Eugene Thacker describes as ‘a set of technical procedures for defining, managing, modulating, and distributing information throughout a flexible yet robust delivery infrastructure.’” [87] The work embraces the new, the opaque or the ‘unsaid’ in a self-governed attempt to mediate and resist the immaterial flow of information patterns that subsume us, through the subjective disposition of protocol, very much outside of externalized and standardized media saturation.

What defines Love_Potion as a distributive artwork is that method “emerges from and extends the form and structure of digital and network art” [88] to facilitate ‘protocol as medium.’ “An important feature of the method is these three ‘vantage points’ – artist, curator and guest – from which the distributive work can be engaged and from which the praxis of distributive artworking can be interpreted.” [89] DIY functionality underpins the lack of centralized autocratic control to extend the conceptual boundaries and aesthetic relations of what an artwork may be. Participants are asked to grow (as ‘tactical gardeners’) borage plants from seed, disseminated and dispensed through curatorial local events, to procure, through nurture and love, a magic potion. The work can be enacted or facilitated anywhere in space and time, and is not restricted in its environment, narrative, protocol or participant behavior.

The content output is not necessarily disseminated to other participants (audio-visual documentation can be uploaded to the web site and mutated through algorithmic procedure), but as protocol can be subverted or dispensed with, colonization of content and thus self is negated. Although ritual and procedure may be shared experiences among participants, the individual enactment or process is personalized and autonomous. “In thinking protocol as a medium [sic], the parameters of the performance can be communicated without transporting the content. In this way, the intimate aspects of the individual enactments are not incorporated into or accumulated by the work.” [90]

“Patterns, rhythms and tempos emerge through the interactions of the different [heterogeneous] elements. Together they map a spatiality of transformation based on pulses, expansions, contractions, ebbs and flows [often mediated by algorithmic parameters].” [91] The networked narratives embedded in the meta-aesthetic work of artist Stanza map these transformative spaces, pulses, ebbs and flows in the dialectical relationship that exists between material and immaterial networks / space. The intent in the artist’s vision is to “explore artistic and technical opportunities to enable new aesthetic perspectives, experiences and perceptions within context of architecture, data spaces and online environments.” [92] The communal data subjectivity evidenced in the work monitors and records digital and / or organic transactions or variants in the networked ether to comment on immaterial geopolitical and environmental socio-cultural communication networks, which resound in the transient info-sphere and in the materiality of the physical spaces the artist works. An invisible, spatially dispersed electronic grid, layer upon cumulative layer is initiated to attest both immaterial and material data flows (motes) in the city. The work comments on the intangible networked metadata in the info-sphere to envision the dispersed, simultaneous and differentiated information flows that inflect the milieu: flows that often remain hidden to the conscious mind.

An aesthetic sensibility to emergent socio-cultural mental edicts for processing re-conceptualized metadata constructs (the perceptual ‘unsaid’) in “everyday artworks [that] draw on that part of the human psyche that evades commoditisation and resists colonisation.” [93] “These artworks represent the movement of people, pollution in the air, the vibrations and sounds of buildings. They are in effect emergent social sculptures visualizing the emotional state of the city.” [94]

The work is meta-aesthetic in the sense it simultaneously references and frames many cognitive levels of reading immaterial relations and material data constructs (meta and otherwise) from virtual and physical architectures / spaces to facilitate a transcendental or meta-aesthetic experience extending conceptual and aesthetic boundaries. The concurrent mediation and apprehension of fluid dispersed data spaces (physical and virtual) synthesizes augmented technological convergence, the transient info-sphere, multi-modal aesthetic experience and the ebbs and flows of multiplex immaterial relations (the ‘unsaid’) in the networked electronic ether. That is, if we take as fact networked immaterial relations are encoded through aesthetic relations (read Neidich), sculpting the neural networks in the cerebral brain, it is not a considerable leap of faith that this cultural shift in accessing, reading, decoding and interpreting information procures an evolved ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes.’

Metadata, data on data, tags and classifications, regulate semantic and formal structure to categorize customized or colonized data flows fits with the idea that immaterial and material relations in the city spaces (physical, virtual, ethereal, mental) “map a spatiality of transformation based on [but also concretized] pulses, expansions, contractions, ebbs and flows,” [95] transposed onto ‘a genealogy of meta-aesthetic changes.’ Furthermore, the ‘binding’ of local and global networked and offline interactions / communications envisions our meta-aesthetic experience in mediating ‘multiplex’ levels of concurrent, disparate and dispersed information in augmented spaces (virtual and material architectures).

Is Imagination Inherently Limited by Sensorial Overload from Simultaneous and Divergent Electronic Communications / Mass Distributed Networks?

Are the senses disempowered and negated on account of information overload coupled with technological convergence to stifle an already embattled imagination and dull the perceptions? Explicit has replaced implicit within a cultural generation that may have to shift its aesthetic parameters on what is considered creative practice and whether new combinations of previously contrary disciplinary practice and media types are remediated into new ubiquitous aesthetic forms and critique. These new dichotic emergent forms simultaneously encompass both asymmetrical and homogeneous tendencies in their mutable and customized structural form. Does this nurture the linear prescription of intent, mutually unequivocal and explicit, or the reciprocal interactive process to engender proposed autonomous freedom through the demise of the author / reader duality and ascendancy of user-generated content? Divergent thought or overt ‘multiplex consciousness?’ Is our intuitive expression becoming commoditized and standardized as the internal conceptualisms of the mind become an externalized part of the mass cultural consciousness?

We move on to the next task without an understanding of the implications for our cognitive future. There is no time for self-reflective thinking and incubation. Viola [96] talks of human sense ‘limiters’ to filter the continual stream of data, but is it already too late? Are the ‘limiters’ misfiring under incessant pressure and information overload? ‘Imagination is the key to the doorway of perception’ [97] but is the key misplaced? [98] 

As our brains model the fluidity of the experiential info-sphere it remains to be seen how the put upon imagination mutates or adapts; whether it precipitates a generic response whereby everyone gains in creativity, but conversely a kind of communal creative ascendancy of a similar ilk: a hybridized remix cultural aesthetic or homogenized visual language no less constrained than earlier aesthetic paradigms. An analogy to A. R. Luria’s startling pathological study with subject S in The Mind of a Mnemonist provides a vivid example of informational overload that transpires through the duality of synesthetic perception and the associated mnemonic recall, to perpetrate an astounding graphical reading of language, explicit and figurative, but to the detriment of semantic meaning and narrative structure. The subject S organizes a multisensate, vivid construction of an imagined, subjective semiotics in his psyche, so fragmented that the internalized signage system folds in on itself to create disparate syntactic and semantic disintegration: the cognitive break down of mental precepts and concepts, into discrete units, without the ability to think creatively or with holistic abstraction to integrate differentiated components. [99] Could this happen in the electronic info-sphere, whereby externalized mental concepts are seamlessly subsumed into the cultural psyche as modular digital bytes, all zeroes and ones, and implicit meaning lost through the re-diffusion of information overload on the senses?

The short film salaryman6 by Jake Knight [100] analogies the formulaic pattern of the modern urban milieu, through a transient existence of a Japanese salaryman constrained in a memorial loop, who records his working week on a digital camera to procure an assurance of his cultural identity, life purpose and self-worth in society. The film explores temporality, banality, endless searching, repetition and cultural belief systems in an ephemeral account of the everyday. The daily routine and the worker’s loss of memory are a metaphor for the bereavement of creative autonomy in a self-absorbed networked information society: an imagination stifled. The habitual repetition of the monotonous juxtaposed with the loss of cognitive wherewithal envision the brain molded by the mundane or explicit. The subsequent externalizations of the salaryman’s life in a series of photographs that document his recurrent daily schedule commoditize this specious, almost automated self: the memetic contagion of commoditized identity and imagination in a homogenized and standardized society.

Knight contextualizes the journey through an aesthetic appreciation and unspoken expressive resonance of the hidden content within the milieu to envisage the introspective perceptions of the protagonist, yet the film itself, in contrast to the salaryman’s transitory, colorless existence, transgresses the banal and unequivocal to deploy the viewer’s imagination through perceptual interpolation. The film is the antithesis of the collective, non-imaginative psyche of the non-place of the salaryman, whose very thoughts externalized, disavow autonomy and relinquish self-control. Knight’s aesthetic treatment of moving image and sound, sensitized and humanized for the screen, plays on the post-human fear that the socio-cultural manifestations of the mass colonization of information sculpt a collective cultural psyche that portrays man’s geographical and emotional non-place in our global info-sphere. The loss of self-identity or understanding of self transcends the physical into the hyper-commodification of intelligence and ultimately culture realized in multiple dichotomist identities or consciousness.

Thus, we need to ask ourselves a big question:

Who are the new creative visionaries, the ones who envision a diversified aesthetic sensibility?

Who are the ones who embrace an evolved aesthetic formulae or visual language? The ones who already possess the fractured imagination and genealogy of aesthetic changes in their distributed neural networks to mediate the transient info-sphere? How may artists and / or designers intercede and visualize the transcendence of self, as we know it, into a differentiated paradigmatic cerebral mapping of spatial information distribution in networked society?

In a brief discussion with Neidich at the ICA in 2004, after his talk on Neuroaesthetics, he loosely speculated the hypothesis that people considered slightly on the verge of supposed social and cultural ‘normality,’ say, for example, with the condition ADHD, [101] may in the near future be at the forefront in creative cultural practice and innovation. Neidich speculates that “culture inscribes itself or sculpts the brain” and, in this example, the cognitive, visual, aesthetic and socio-cultural behavioral immaterial relations, within the material neural networks in people with the medical condition ADHD. The subsequent result is an evolved, variable and mutated ‘cultured brain,’ more equipped to arbitrate the present and future mental / social constructs intrinsic in ‘continuous partial attention.’ An adjusted aesthetic paradigm that co-evolves with the rapid and simultaneous mediation of distributed information, in an iterative feedforward and feedback loop, to facilitate the cultural evolution of neural networks in the inscribed mind: ‘new ways of seeing [and reading] the world.’  With respect, this paper is not trying to define social normality, the point is proffered that current excepted aesthetic models may not be adequate to analyze / interpret users omnipresent behavioral patterns in the simultaneous fluid cultural flows of mutable digital information in an epoch of unprecedented technology convergence.

Is it possible that specific aesthetic formulas that have emerged in the past twenty years would be invisible to a brain not educated or reconfigured by the genealogy of aesthetic changes that are embedded in the visual field and which have significantly reordered the microbiological architecture of the brain? Through a history of trial and error, only those changes in those objects that not only conformed to their genealogy but were also […] ‘neurocapatible,’ remained selectively advantageous. [102]

The ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes’ [103] that evolve in the neural networks intrinsic in the brain, fashioned in response to social behavioral patterns in mediating distributed networks, immaterial relations and technological convergence, is reciprocating remote accessibility to the private cerebral space of the multiple subjective self to precipitate a scenario whereby Miller [104] suggests “the voice you speak with may not be your own.” This suggests – through social networking sites, blogs, mash-ups, file-sharing and user-generated content – what some deem the return to a unified society: the premise of the oral community updated for the networked, commoditized world (McLuhan 1964, [105] and 2001; [106] ; Levinson 2001 [107]). The ‘genealogy of aesthetic changes’ may include skimming, scanning, ‘continuous partial attention,’ fractured cognitive assembly, modulation, externalization of the ephemeral, rapid mediation of data, networked distribution, information commodification, user-generated content, integrated user-driven design, peer-to-peer networks, Web 2.0, avatars, responsive or immersive artificial environments or intelligent cognitive agents. Repeat: The implication is that the brain reconfigures itself in a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience in the experiential info-sphere, and in doing so cannot help but generate a different evolutionary aesthetic paradigm or visual language.

Is there an imminent danger that the voice or language one speaks with – cultural forms reciprocating immaterial relations in the electronic ether – has become standardized in our explicit consciousness through a common uniformity prevalent in the networked society? That is, the parcelization of one’s mutable digital persona, disseminated in assorted concurrent guises and variable techno-cultural forms, that structure customized bits and bytes to represent the multifarious self through remixed media constructs in networked communication transactions. The precept of these cultural forms, often driven by intelligent cognitive agents, are in a continual state of flux and may modularize hybrid digital content to elucidate voice, context, connotations and aesthetic delineation. The state of flux equally transposes to identity (real, believed or fictitious) in mediated space for communication. The medium is very much the [memetic contagion] message.

“Any sound can be you. It’s an emotion of abstraction and attention deficit disorder. There’s so much information about who you should be or what you should be that you’re not left with the option of trying to create a mix of your very self.” [108] The database /selectionist logic for the fragmentized, decentered generation whose distribution of self is through remediation / remix of variable commercial media in conjunction with user generated primary content: “so there is a displacement of the author’s (or designer’s) ‘voice’ – a situation does not ‘speak’ to us in the way that a text does. When we discover information from within the situation, the voice appears to be our own.” [109] Only appears? Is it really our own voice, or the voice of multiple others virtual presence? The theory evokes the notion of a collective cultural brain that, over time, catches up with the proposed manifold aesthetic lead of the envisaged creative and cultural market leaders. Often sound or audio, for example ‘the memetic contagion of the DJ,’ [110] breed the cutting-edge in new ways of accessing, reading, juxtaposing and positioning reconfigured content in a wider socio-cultural context.

Will these individuals define or redefine culturally determined objective reality and cognitive belief systems as the new creative visionaries? Will the lineage they procure and convene in aesthetics, through mutable and variable data, already unconsciously absorbing the flow of cultural patterns inherent in economic, political, social and technological immaterial relations, capacitate their innate ability to mediate the commoditization of culture and expertly sift the rapid speed of electronic information exchange for value or need. Will they create the perceived value or need? Does this represent the externalization of the self and process in a technological shift that floods the senses through data saturation and multifarious creative flow or networked information, internalizing multiple external data channels, in the post-human information aesthetics? Has this, however, not always been the case? New convergent technologies bring revised socio-cultural mental constructs for processing and disseminating information to evolve transmuted cultural forms that extend or modify aesthetic boundaries. The theoretical critique of this shifting variability requires new evolving criteria for the networked distribution of remediated information; criteria based in historical precedence within existing media semiotics, semantics and media genres (Lunenfeld, 2001 [111] Manovich, 1995 [112]), to procure a new cognitive model in techno-visual modes of address as evidenced in ‘multiplex consciousness.’

You people of the Internet are really trying to give birth to this sort of thing, this new age. You are the midwife of this process […]  you liberated us from having to invest a great effort to remember things. Why should we remember things? The past is full of troubles and wars. Why should we try to waste our intellect to remember? Now we can just go to Google […]
Shimon Peres, former Israeli Prime Minister
Le Web 3 Conference, Paris December 12, 2006

The necessity to remember, to recollect, to self reflect, to ingest and sit back and think becomes peripheral as systems compensate for our cognitive variability. In a strange dialectic equation, both memorial account in the neural substrates of the cognitive brain and technological advancement are in the constant state of transition; often rendered obsolete due to the rapid mutation and interpretation of protocol in the info-sphere. The proposed creative leaders / thinkers are ones who mediate and read fractured information patterns and data flows (read variants in attention deficit and immaterial relations) with a more evolved synesthetic amplitude that sculpts the neuronal plasticity of the developing brain. By the time mass disseminated cultural consciousness catches up with the leaders, evolving socio-cultural mental constructs and aesthetic forms become obsolete and new aesthetic parameters and visual languages impinge on our ‘multiplex consciousness.’

Might memorial recollection be dissipated in neural networks that automate contextual meaning and externalize any internal mental conception / cognition until the technology has the wherewithal in post-human intelligence that places the human brain as a subsidiary to the computers intelligent machinic manifestation, hyperintelligence or hypercommoditization? Imagine: cognition nullified and positioned external to the biological brain, consumed by patterns of information – the bits and bytes, the zeroes and ones – that interrupt the adaptive flow of information, not phenomenal information perceived in the external world, but through virtual interfaces and immaterial transactions in a networked generic consciousness. An informational give-and-take to disband human digital boundaries, to collate one’s multiple consciousness for our abstracted multiple selves. An information exchange where the human, the personal, the digital and the networked are dialectical cousins interrogating new intelligent electronic and psychological systems: socially engineered software that is socially engineering our imagination through emergent algorithmic self-organizing systems.

Is this the gateway to a better world or the loss of creative autonomy in networked cut and paste society? A mix and match culture that neglects original thought and social conscience? We are at a techno-cultural apex that is mutating rapidly and the resultant processes and channels are continually moving beyond our means to draw them back. Temes. Perceptions fade, subsumed into a transient wasteland, rendering control superfluous. Imagination is diffused by information overload in an aesthetical paradigm that relies more on intelligent systems and underlying syntactic structure, rather than content driven context, in the unrelenting standardization and externalization of the mental concept. The evolutionary psychology of [Neuro]aesthetics is multiple, decentered, variable and disfranchised, unable to absorb sensorial information, but full of intelligent systems that take the strain to absolve perceptual cleverness from the individual and collective society. An electronic computerized human hybrid entity or ‘mechanism of mind’ [113] utilizing Artificial Intelligence systems as cognitive / perceptual extensions of the psyche to exhibit emergent intelligent behavior and new hybrid forms of mental constructs.

The Summation: How to Deliver the Manifestation of Collective Socio-cultural Mental Constructs through Twenty-first Century Intelligent Information Visualization?

Important information: The decentered, rapid shifting of attention / focus will underpin the structural format for the summation. The following textual information will be immediate, decentered, discontinuous, fractured, asymmetrical, distributed sound bytes presented in different fonts, font sizes, alignment, emphasis, spacing; a metaphor for the scanning, hypertextual, attention switching social behavior ever-present in the twenty-first century multiplicitious self (you, me, everybody, everything). Latent pseudo psychogeographical wandering usurped and modified for the twenty-first century mind. The textual mutterings will be locally differentiated, yet functionally specialized, to form a cohesive whole in the distributed network of fractured aesthetic ideas, myths, samples, precedents and speculation. To negotiate and mediate the experience, to find ‘your own voice,’ acceptance of the distributed, often unconscious, social behavioral patterns and cultural flows of differentiated meta-information must be absorbed into ‘the cultured brain.’ Scan, mutate, and select to follow your own threads in cultural absolution. 

The mechanisms of war, the electro-colonization of information, the hypercommidification [sic] of culture, the exponential growth of mass media – all these point to a machinic/semiotic hierarchy or representation that models human thought as a distributed network. […] Ours is a milieu in which much of what is heard, seen, and thought, is basically a refraction of the electronicized world that we have built around ourselves. [114] [Memetic contagion] 

Post-structural mental constructs / social behavioral systems; how the brain operates as distributed network: hypertextual wherewithal and fractured cerebral navigation of distributed simultaneous information documented through externalized memorial devices.

The web is the dominant metaphor for the way we think. It is a living network made up of the ‘threads’ of all the information moving through the world at any given moment. [115] 

An attempt to define a twenty-first century hybrid Neuroaesthetics and / or Aesthetics – the temporal-spatial differentiation – the brain as a distributed network that imitates the memetic contagion of socio-cultural behavioral [cybernetic processes] patterns that integrate the synthetic, the material, the metaphysical and the mental in a binding whole.

1. A fractured, conscious attention process […] to create a hybrid aesthetic paradigm that is rapidly shifting, simultaneously imitated, variable, re-edited and manipulated ‘on the fly,’ often through algorithmic generation implicit in mutable digital media systems and distributed networks.

‘Centripetal Palimpsest’ (ibid., Neidich)

As our brains model the fluidity of the experiential info-sphere it remains to be seen how the put upon imagination mutates or adapts; whether it precipitates a generic response whereby everyone gains in creativity. Or, conversely, a kind of communal creative ascendancy of a similar ilk: a hybridized remix cultural aesthetic or homogenized visual language no less constrained than earlier aesthetic paradigms. 

The commoditization of information, identity and self … and the aesthetic processing of such a colonized visual communicative language.

Concurrent ‘continuous partial attention’: —————————————————————————————————–

———————————————————————————————————————evolved mental constructs == aesthetic multiplicity.

The perceived role of the artist / designer is to negotiate these fluid cultural / technological / social boundaries to analyze and visualize the multifarious data dimensions of scientific overture and information complexity, specifically empirical neurological research findings.

 And if the graphic design profession is ‘in danger of losing its reason in the contemporary world’ (as Richard Buchanan has suggested) then perhaps it should rise to this challenge and be revitalised. In doing so two role models need revision – the artist as outsider and the designer as transformer; both of these on the margins of activity with neither engaged in the negotiation and transaction of collective memory. [116]

ben_fry_(MIT)_deploys_custom_graphics_software_/_algorithmic_programs_to_aid_understanding_of_complex_data_systems,_subsequently_to_envision_in_unique,_beautiful_visualisations_of_information_design_e._g._human_genome,_iraqi_casualities,_web_site_navigational_/_user_practice._templates_and_reappropriation_of_existing_‘cultural_objects’_is_rebuffed,_whereby_the_complex_distribution_of_information_is_visualized_in_content_driven_bespoke_mapping_structures. [117]

What comes after the remix: “Will we eventually get tired of cultural objects […] made from samples which come from an already existing database? And if we do, will it still be psychologically possible to create a new aesthetics that does not rely on excessive sampling?” [118]

  1. Personal intervention in the environment to write our own communal social narrative from ‘inside the field of [multiplicitious] representation.Will people be intellectually, genetically and technologically modified information commodities in the remediation         remix culture sculpted by the mass commodification of data and self?

    “The conflation of outside and inside is, of course, symptomatic of the desire to project the inside onto the outside, to make it objective and public.”  [119]

The human propensity is to reduce and envision that which cannot be envisioned: the immaterial, the transient, the invisible, the encoded and the complex. Simplicity gleaned from complexity. The need to visually extrapolate and modulate consciousness and thought, based on advanced technological systems that dynamically visualize the neuronal activation in the brain. To create a clear picture of the mind in the mind, a mind that is mutating into multiplex consciousness. Is it not better to create a muddied picture in the mind?

The intention to prototype an emergent artificial neural network system that will raise pertinent questions of empathy, epistemological learning, mnemonic techniques, attention, arts intention, cognitive mapping and socio-cultural mental constructs prevalent in a period of rapid technological convergence and fluid data driven systems.

How                                        How

to                                             to

map                                         envision the

the                                           hybrid

process?                                  aesthetic paradigm?

Blast Theory, Uncle Roy All  Around You (2003): “It is this combination [real and digital (fictional)] that gives Uncle Roy All Around You its strength of resistance: the marking of the relationship between the virtual and the real through incongruity and the spill of the consequences of quasi-fictional behaviors onto the real of subsequent everyday life.” [120]

 T.V. is the place where the pursuit of happiness has become the pursuit of trivia
Where toothpaste and cars have become sex objects
Where imagination is sucked out of children by a cathode ray nipple
T.V. is the only wet nurse that would create a cripple
Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

Artist: Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
Track: Television, the Drug of the Nation

Well, Neuroaesthetics, maybe it is a bit like that or a bit like this or the other, as fragmentary, modulated or even reductionist in application as socio-cultural behavioral intention in memetic networked connections. The techno-cultural immaterial relations and protocols that underpin cerebral wherewithal sculpt the brain’s cognitive and aesthetic capacity. The evolutionary neurological correlation of the fractured, hybrid aesthetic processing of visual information that mimics socio-cultural mental constructs in mediating information flows, is conceptually dynamic, hard to pin down and incessant through the mutating praxis of ‘multiplex consciousness’ and the operative process of ‘continuous partial attention.’ New ways of accessing, reading, decoding and interpreting infinite, often simultaneous, data constructs that realign neuronal aesthetic plasticity, becoming increasingly dependent on the technological (read temes) for visual-cognitive modes of address. The immaterial relations facilitate a feedforward / feedback correlate with the neurological substrates in the brain concretized in ‘a genealogy of meta-aesthetic changes.’ Meta-aesthetics in theory (read immaterial relations) and practice (read material objective reality) is transient and mutable.

Repeat: repeat: repeat: fracture: fracture: statement: The brain does reconfigure itself, through its neuronal plasticity, in a Darwinian attempt to engage or cope with a new level of transience and multiplicity in the experiential info-sphere, and in doing so cannot help but generate a different evolutionary aesthetic paradigm or visual language [full stop] …

Endnotes and References

[1] Warren Neidich, Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain (New York: D.A.P, 2003), 106.

[2] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004), 61.

[3] Ibid., 21.

[4] Ibid., 25.

[5] Warren Neidich, “The Cultured Brain,” in Journal of Neuro-Aesthetic Theory, no.1 (1997 – 1999), 3-4, (accessed October 25, 2004).

[6] Ibid., 3-4.

[7] Dmytri Kleiner and Brian Wyrick, “Info-Enclosure 2.0,” Mute  (Web 2.0 Man’s Best Friendster) 2, no.4 (2007): 17.

[8] Tom Hodgkinson, “With Friends like These… ,” in The Guardian, G2 Supplement, January 14, 2008, 6.

[9] Ibid., 9.

[10] Theory of Mimetic behavior devised by Rene Girard of Stanford University.

[11] Tom Hodgkinson, “With Friends like These… ,” 8.

[12] Précis of key idea proffered transverse the text. Dmytri Kleiner and Brian Wyrick, “Info-Enclosure 2.0.”

[13] Ibid., 18.

[14] Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production?” in Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 321.

[15] Lev Manovich and Andreas Kratky, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database, DVD-video with 40 page color booklet 
(Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005)

[16] Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (London: The MIT Press, 2001)
, 124.

“New media objects are rarely created completely from scratch; usually they are assembled from ready-made parts. Put differently, in computer culture, authentic creation has been replaced by selection from a menu.”

[17] Gerald Edelman and Guilio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000).

[18] Ibid., 130.

[19] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 61.

[20] Lev Manovich, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database,. Interview at DEAF 2003 Festival in Rotterdam.

[21] Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, “Meet your iBrain,” in American Scientific MIND 19, no.5 (2008): 42-47.

[22] Ibid., 46-47.

[23] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 61.

[24] Lev Manovich, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database. Interview at DEAF 2003 Festival in Rotterdam.

[25] Lev Manovich, “GUI series,” Soft Cinema Project’s website, 2005, (accessed October 17, 2008).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Warren Neidich, Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain, 106.

[28] Semir Zeki, Inner Vision, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

[29] V. S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein, “The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience,” Journal of Consciousness Studies 6, no. 6-7, (1999): 15-51.

[30] V. S. Ramachandran, “The Artful Brain,”, 2005, (accessed October 22, 2006).

[31] Semir Zeki, “Statement on Neuroesthetics,” Neuroesthetics’ website, (accessed August 6, 2005).

[32] John Hyman, “Art and Neuroscience” (Art and Cognition Workshops, January 2006),, (accessed May 10, 2006). This article examines some ideas about the visual arts recently advanced by V. S. Ramachandran and Semir Zeki.

[33] Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, “Meet your iBrain,” 47.

[34] Semir Zeki, “Statement on Neuroesthetics.”

[35] Ibid.

[36] Semir Zeki, Inner Vision, 6.

[37] Ibid., 12.

[38] Ibid., 58-59.

[39] Warren Neidich, “Synaesthesia – A Neuroaesthetics Exhibition” (Artist Talk, ICA, London, October 26, 2004). Please note: All textual segments in quotation marks within the paragraph are based on notes taken and discussion held at the event, but may not be accurate word for word.

[40] Warren Neidich, Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain, 131.

[41] Warren Neidich, “Synaesthesia – A Neuroaesthetics Exhibition.”

[42] Ibid.

[43] W. Neidich, T. De Souza, and R. Zimmer, “Society of Neurons: an Arts/ Science Project,” in Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Creativity and Cognition, Goldsmiths College, London (April 2005), 301-304.

[44] Gerald Edelman and Guilio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, 84.

[45] Semir Zeki, “Statement on Neuroesthetics.”

[46] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 61.

[47] Warren Neidich, Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain, 132.

[48] Ibid., 135.

[49] Andy Cameron, “The Medium Is Messy,” Eye 30, no. 98 (1998): 6.

[50] David I. Tafler, “When Analog Cinema becomes Digital Memory … ,” in Wide Angle  21, no. 1 (1999): 182.

[51] Ibid., 185.

[52] Ibid., 192-193. Tafler details a lucid account of the orchestrated perceptual manipulation of the audience psyche through the deployment of the cinematic mechanism ‘Nervous System’ is aptly described therein.

[53] Ibid., 189.

[54] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 61.

[55] Ibid., 25.

[56] Ibid., 69.

[57] Mark Amerika, META/DATA (Cambridge; MA: The MIT Press, 2007), 15.

[58] Timothy Druckery, “An Itinerary and Five Excursions,” in Stelarc: The Monograph (Electronic Culture: History, Theory and Practice, ed. Marquard Smith (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005), 45.

[59] Andy Cameron, “The Medium Is Messy,” 6.

[60] Bruce Brown, “Is This Life, or just MEMOREX?” (the first annual GLAD lecture at  National Association of Graphic Design Educators, Falmouth, UK, 1997), 11-12.

[61] Ibid., 14.

[62] Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life,” March 10, 2008, (accessed April 10, 2008), 8.

[63] Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, “A Digital Life,” in American Scientific, March 2007, 40-47.

[64] Ibid., 40.

[65] Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life,” 9.

[66] Lev Manovich, “From the Externalization of the Psyche to the Implantation of Technology,” Lev Monavich’s website, 1995, (accessed July 8, 2008), 1.

[67] Ibid., 4.

[68] Robert L. Solso, The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain (Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2003), 2-3.

[69] Bruce Brown, “Is this life, or just MEMOREX?,” 20-21.

[70] Ibid., 21.

[71] Thanks to former colleague Dr. Paul Newland at the University of Portsmouth for this enlightening discussion with regard to our externalization of the internal virtual landscape of the mind.

[72] William Gibson, Neuromancer (New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1984), 12.

[73] BBC News, “Watching TV ‘Is Bad for Children,’” BBC News’ website, April 6, 2004, July 8, 2008).

[74] Warren Neidich, Blow Up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain, 137.

[75] Susan Blackmore, “Dangerous Memes: or What the Pandorans Let Loose,” Susan Blackmore’s website, (accessed July 8, 2008), 1.

[76] Ibid., 2.

[77] Ibid., 5.

[78] Ibid., 6.

[79] Bruce Brown, “Is This Life, or just MEMOREX?,” 20-21.

[80] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 21.

[81] Ibid., 61.

[82] Ibid., 65.

[83] Kate Southworth, “Internet Art as an Index of Ethical Resistance,” (paper presented at Congress CATH 2005: The Ethics and Politics of Virtuality and Indexicality at the National Museum of Photography, Bradford, Yorkshire, UK, June-July 2005), (accessed November 20, 2008), 2.

[84] Ibid., 4.

[85] Kate Southworth, “A Distributive Method of Artworking,” (paper presented at AHRC funded Collaborative Research workshop on Creative Digital Media Research Practice: Production Through Exhibition. Culture Lab, University of Newcastle, March, 2010), (accessed February 1, 2012), 1-2.

[86] Kate Southworth and Patrick Simons (Glorious inth), “Love Potion,” iRes’ website, (accessed November 22, 2008).

[87] Kate Southworth, “Internet Art as an Index of Ethical Resistance,” 4.

[88] Katie Southworth, “A Distributive Method of Artworking,” 1.

[89] Ibid., 4.

[90] Ibid., 8.

[91] Ibid., 2.

[92] Stanza, (accessed December 20, 2008).

[93] Kate Southworth and Patrick Simons (Glorious Ninth), “Love Potion.”

[94] Stanza, “Sensity,” Stanza’s website, (accessed December 20, 2008).

[95] Katie Southworth, “A Distributive Method of Artworking,” 2.

[96] Bill Viola, Reasons for knocking at an Empty House (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), 40.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Andrew Denham, “‘What Software Did You Use?’ or Play to Create,” in Enhancing Curricular: towards the Scholarship of Teaching Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, ed. A. Davies (London: CLTAD, 2004), 478-495.

[99] A. R. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987).

[100] “salaryman6,” onedotzero_select DVD Vol 1, DVD, directed by Jake Knight (London: [PIAS] UK, 2003).

[101] Tobias Banaschewski and Aribert Rothenberger, “Informing the ADHD Debate,” in American Scientific 17, no. 2, (2007): 36-41.

[102] Warren Neidich, “The Cultured Brain,” 3-4.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 69.

[105] Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994).

[106] Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage: an Inventory of Effects (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 2001).

[107] Paul Levinson, Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium (London: Routledge, 2001).

[108] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 64.

[109] Andy Cameron, “The Medium is Messy,” 7.

[110] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science.

[111] Peter Lunenfeld, Snap to Grid (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001).

[112] Lev Manovich web site, “From the Externalization of the Psyche to the Implantation of Technology.”

[113] Stan Franklin, Artificial Minds (Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2001).

[114] Paul Miller, Rhythm Science, 69-73.

[115] Ibid., 24.

[116] Bruce Brown, “Is This Life, or just MEMOREX?,” 21.

[117] Ben Fry’s official website, (accessed December 20, 2008).

[118] Lev Manovich, “What Comes After Remix?” Lev Manovich’s website, 2007, (accessed April 10, 2008), 5.

[119] Lev Manovich web site, “From the Externalization of the Psyche to the Implantation of Technology,” 4.

[120] Kate Adams, “The Threshold of the Real: a Site for Participatory Resistance in Blast Theory’s Uncle Roy All Around You,” 2003, (accessed September 18, 2008), 7.


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