My quest to understand the connection between the mind and the world arises from the aesthetic impulse, in which the manifold forms of human experience are mediated by means of artistic representation
The rapid advances in modern neuroscience have demonstrably paralleled corresponding advances in brain imaging techniques. Our ability to see finer and finer details of the brain in operation and to draw connections between related structures and locations in the brain have allowed us to begin the complex task of mapping the geography of consciousness in ways that further understanding and yield practical applications. These technological advances offer great potential for aesthetic contemplation and conscious evolution.
The vast majority of sensory processing in the brain is dedicated to vision. Many times more neurons are involved in seeing than in hearing, touch, or the other senses. The visual cortex and the optical pathways constitute the largest brain system. In a very deep way, our consciousness is a process of seeing the world and reflecting upon it. To see a thing is to begin to understand it. The power to imagine is the power to visualize.
By supplementing visual stimuli with auditory, tactile, and other sensory cues, the human sensorium is reproduced in multimedia technology with increasing precision. The promise of virtual reality and total-immersion simulation is the fulfillment of the human desire to create the world anew in our own image. This was the urge that drove the first virtual-reality artists to delve deep into the caves of prehistory and recreate the agony and ecstasy of human experience upon the cavernous walls in rituals that united art, spirituality, and practical knowledge. This is what it means to be human. It is the essential faculty we have projected upon our deities…the creation of the universe is our greatest work of art.
Image 1: “Art and Mind” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2011
Images 2 and 3: Results returned by a Google Images search for “brain imaging*