CRUMB discussion

George and I are currently invited respondents to an online discussion on curating art that “responds to bodily inputs” on the CRUMB list. There’s lots of interesting discussion on there that relates to Thinking Through the Body. I haven’t posted anything yet (mainly because my body has been very reluctant to do any thinking at all – or go near a computer for a month now). But I plan to post something about this project in the next week or so. Several of you may also want to contribute. You can join the list and see an archive of the discussion so far at the website:

In the meantime – here’s a taster of one exchange within the discussion between Adinda van ‘t Klooster (the convener of the discussion) and Brigitta Zics. They’re talking about the difference between active and passive interaction. I’d be interested to hear what the Feldenkrais pros think of the idea of “cognitive feedback art”

I think this is a very useful distinction[ACTIVE AND PASSIVE INTERACTION.]
If I understand this right, you refer to the body’s subconscious
physiological response which is reflected in their heartrate, EEG, EMG, etc,
captured by the system. As these are then reflected in audiovisual content
created by the artist or designer of the interactive system, the viewer is
challenged to gain more control over these otherwise immediate responses. I
wonder if in this process of the participants learning to operate the
system, the interaction becomes conscious and thus becomes active even it
started as passive? I have been looking for a word for the whole of the
system of this ‘new’ form of aesthetic experience which differs from
interactive art, but is not purely responsive either. You suggest term
cognitive feedback loop. How would you place this is the context of art,
would you call it cognitive feedback art?
I wonder if this would do enough justice to the body itself, or if indeed we
have then lost it (the body) somehow?

I would not agree with the point that you make about passive interaction
i.e. that through the learning process/control of the user the work become
active. I think we talk about similar phenomena with slightly different
network of terms, which attempt to explain body-mind actions with a diverse
hermeneutic sensitivity. As I pointed out earlier the bodily passive status
means the way the body is used for interaction and not the quality whether
the art work activates conscious-subconscious processes. Passive interaction
refers to a bodily passive status, which activates
a sensitivity towards cognitive responses of the user (like emotions).
The interconnectivity of conscious-subconscious events or, from another
point of view, the relationship between embodied and new knowledge is
crucial to art works. However I describe this not with the differentiation
of active and passive but with the aesthetic conceptualisation of learning
processes in the interactive art work. To account for the learning process
(or as I term the ‘mastering the tool’ processes) means to operate between
embodied knowledge and action and the novelty of technology and content (new
knowledge and. non-predictable actions). As such, the aesthetic conception
of the mind-body nexus implies how we artists design the conscious-subconscious
relationship in the user’s experience.
I think the term Cognitive-feedback Art is too restrictive for me (similarly
Biofeedback Art). I think we already have to work with difficult terms such
as Software Art / Virtual Art or Internet Art which from my point of view do
not bring creditable differentiations to art as they only refer to the
medium but not to the content. I would describe this simply as
technology-based art, which focuses on cognitive qualities, the body-mind
nexus and the embodied/ novel knowledge. I would suggest that this is an
emerging form of interactive art, which introduces cognitive-driven
interaction (if we suggest that bodily status reciprocally provide
information about cognitive states). As such, in my interpretation
‘cognitive-feedback loop’ also refers to a bodily status. Even though the
semiotics of the body do not have particular role in this kind of
interactive works, this is why I called them passive interactions. The
cognitive-feedback loop however is an important term to explain a system,
which builds on cognitive qualities. Thus, the system attempts to evaluate
the data according to a cognitive status and according to this outcome the
‘instant affection technologies’ (see in my earlier email) attempts to act
upon the user to lead him/her to particular cognitive states. Therefore
‘cognitive-feedback loop’ is an interactive system which applies affective
computing and technologies.

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