Centre for Research in Creative and Performing Arts

Anil Seth

There is a strong history of interdisciplinary work at the university. We need to apply theoretical and practical approaches from a range of disciplines in order to work towards a rigorous scientific understanding of consciousness. My research interests involved in the arts include the work of Ernst Gombrich and 'the beholder's share' in relation to viewing perception as a constructive process. We need a newer approach to understanding how a brain engages with art, rejecting the traditional approach of looking for an underlying 'neuro-aesthetic' mechanism, and instead “looking at art as giving the viewer the raw material that engages [the brain's] perceptual machinery”.

The Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science has long worked with arts practitioners, in particular through work funded by the Wellcome Trust. This includes a successful Wellcome Large Arts Award with artist Lindsey Sears to create a new moving image installation Every Thought There Ever Was, which deals with the effect of exposure to virtual reality on our sense of self, our perception of the body and our experience of subjective reality. Other areas of collaboration have included work on theories of embodiment, explored in conversations with the Siobhan Davies Dance Company as part of the Barbican's Station to Station talks last summer, and in conversations with Simon McBurney around his piece The Encounter during this year's Brighton Festival.

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