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Events 11 | 2012

Thurs–Sat, November 22–24, 2012

Symposium and concert in the context of IMATRONIC extended
Thurs from 2 p.m. at ZKM_Media Theater, Fri/Sat from 10 a.m. at ZKM_Lecture Hall, admission free, registration required at thieroff@zkm.de, conference language English
Concert Thurs 7 p.m., at ZKM_Cube and ZKM_Music Balcony, admission €10/7

Information auf deutsch
video installation
IMATRONIC extended
Further Information on "Kaepsele Connection"

As part of several joint projects on creativity and innovation, which are carried out by the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and Akademie Schloss Solitude and were initiated by the State of Baden-Württemberg in 2007, the symposium "Neuroaesthetics" aims at establishing a link between the current developments in neurosciences and the arts.

The classical theory of technology, from Bergson to Stiegler, from Freud to McLuhan, is mainly an organological theory of technology. Technical media are being interpreted as an enhancement of sense organs (the wheel is an extension of the foot, the computer an extension of the brain, and so forth). Secondly, the relation between the senses is being redefined through every new medium. The synaesthetic programme of the turn of the century has openend in abstract painting and in the avant-garde films of the 1920s and 1930s the chapter "Seeing Sound", which led to the mainstream of MTV (Music Television). In classical synaesthesia one organ (eye) has partially overtaken the function of another organ (ear).

Through novel technical interconnections of media (from computer to iPad), from the extension of sense organs as well as to those of sense organs themselves, new integrations of sense organs emerge. The neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita speaks of "sensoral substitution", whereby any one sense organ can tendentially take over functions of every other sense organ.

Through the interaction of different regions of the brain novel chains of association are being produced, which in turn generate creativity. New artistic approaches in dance, music, and fine arts, exist already und are being celebrated with great success as a new alliance between science and the arts, as scientific aesthetics or as evolutionary aesthetics respectively. Aesthetic experience can hereby serve as a field of experimentation of this generation of connections between different sensuary perceptions, which allows for the creation of creative processes.

The symposium will center around two basic themes. On the one hand, it will discuss the meaning of "cultural neuroscience", that is, the effects of culture on the brain structure and its function for both science and the arts. The second topic will be the notion of "sensory substitution" and "synaesthesia".

By cooperating with the Hertie Foundation, which is the largest private supporter of neuroscience in Germany, the ZKM will try to initiate a potential way for art to gain access and draw inspiration from the neurosciences, and for neuroscience to obtain means of socially articulating their experimental results.

The speakers at the symposium are:


Joan Y. Chiao, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, USA

Shihui Han, Culture and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Bejing University

Shinobu Kitayama, Department of Psychology; University of Michigan

Peter König, Institut für Kognitionswissenschaft, Universität Osnabrück

Fiona Newell, Department of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin

Georg Northoff, Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics Research Unit, University of Ottawa, Institute of Mental Health Research

Shinsuke Shimojo, The Shimojo Psychophysics Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Julia Simner, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, The University of Edinburgh

Peter Weiss-Blankenhorn, Institut für Medizin, Forschungszentrum Jülich


Eckart Altenmüller, Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover

Olaf Breidbach, Director of the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Udo Dahmen (requested), Artictic and Managing Director of Popakademie Baden-Württemberg

Thomas Grunwald, Epilepsie-Zentrum, Zürich

Israel Nelken, Department of Neurobiology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Alva Noë, Professor at the Department of Philosophy at UC Berkeley

Patricia Pisters, Professor of Media and Film Studies, University of Amsterdam


Helga Griffiths (Germany)
Arijana Kajfes (Sweden)
Warren Neidich (Germany and USA)
Reto Schölly (Germany)
Tim Otto Roth/Benjamin Staude (Germany)


Thurs 2012/11/22 | Fri 2012/11/23 | Sat 2012/11/24

Thurs 2012/11/22 at ZKM_Media Theater

02:00 p.m.: Opening lecture (Peter Weibel)
02:30 p.m.: Shihui Han: Neural representation of the self in sociocultural senses
3:30 p.m.: Julia Simner: Synaesthesia: The aesthetic consequences of merging senses

04:30 p.m.: Coffee break

04:45 p.m.: Eckart Altenmüller: Is music the universal "language" of emotions? The neurobiology and psychology of aesthetic feelings
05:30 p.m.: Udo Dahmen: The rhythm brain − body & vocal percussion − a journey in 45 minutes
06:15 p.m.: Benjamin Staude / Tim Otto Roth: The sonapticon − A space as an acoustic neuronal network

from 7 p.m.: Concert at the ZKM_Cube, admission €10/7

  • Benjamin Staude / Tim Otto Roth: Sonapticon
  • Kiyoshi Furukawa: Brain Dreams Music (Video)
  • Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player Piano No.11
  • Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player Piano No.20
  • Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player Piano No.21
  • Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player Piano No.25

Mit Wolfgang Heising, Tim Otto Roth


Fri 2012/11/23 at ZKM_Lecture Hall

10:00 a.m.: Joan Chiao: Cultural neuroscience: Promise and progress
10:45 a.m.: Warren Neidich: Artistic research in the 21st century: Bringing the Outside/In

11:30 a.m.: Coffee break

11:45 a.m.: Georg Northoff: The self and its brain − a neurophilosophical perspective
12:30 a.m.: Shinobu Kitayama: Cultural neuroscience of perception: Implications for art and art appreciation

01:15 p.m.: Lunch break

02:45 p.m.: Thomas Grunwald: Processing architectural ranking across cultures and within the human hippocampus
3:30 p.m.: Peter Weiss-Blankenhorn: Functional and structural imaging insights into the neural basis of synaesthesia

04:15 p.m.: Coffee break

04:30 p.m.: Shinsuke Shimojo: Sensory substitution, and the third kind of "qualia"
05:15 p.m.: Israel Nelken: The highs and lows of the auditory system from 7 p.m.: Concert series PIANO+


Sat 2012/11/24 at ZKM_Lecture Hall

10:00 a.m.: Arijana Kajfes: Seeing is not believing
10:30 a.m.: Olaf Breidbach: Looking from within − On the concept neuronal aesthetics

11:15 a.m.: Coffee break

11:30 a.m.: Helga Griffiths: From an archeology of the senses to an animated flight over the glacial landscape of the artist's brain
12:00 a.m.: Peter König: On the relation of action and perception

01:00 p.m.: Lunch break

02:30 p.m.: Patricia Pisters: The Neuro-Image: Brain cinema and digital logic
03:15 p.m.: Fiona Newell: How every day multisensory interactions affect aesthetic

04:00 p.m.: Coffee break

04:15 p.m.: Alva Noë: Art and the limits of neuroscience
05:00 p.m.: Reto Schölly: Neuronal music

from 7 p.m.: Award Ceremony Giga-Hertz Prizes


video installation
The Neuron's Turing Test: Computer generated Neurons

From Thurs, Nov. 22, 2012 at the ZKM_PanoramaLab, admission free!

Just like the design of a subway connects places in a city in an ideal way, there is an ideal way for neurons in the brain to connect to each other. The computer generated neurons in the panoramic movie reproduce such ideal connections and are indistinguishable from the neurons found in the real biological brain. This is strong evidence that the brain actually implements such a design.

Dr. Hermann Cuntz
Independent Group Leader
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI)
for Neuroscience in cooperation
with Max Planck Society

Kindly supported by and in cooperation with Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung
Supported by Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst

Media Partners:
Gehirn und Geist

image: Neurons in mouse barrel cortex © Gentet L.J., Kremer Y., Taniguchi H., Huang Z.J., Staiger J.F., Petersen C.C.H. (2012) "Unique functional properties of somatostatin-expressing GABAergic neurons in mouse barrel cortex", Nat Neurosci 15: 607-612.

- subject to change -


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