On Saturday 5th November 2016, AXNS are curated and chaired the panel ”Quantifying Aesthetic Emotions: What are the Implications for the Arts?’ at STATE Festival: The Sentimental Machine in Berlin.

The panel, chaired by Rachel Stratton, AXNS’ art curator, featured Elena Agudio, an art historian and curator exploring the exchange of knowledge across disciplines; Thorsten Zander, a neuroscientist working on brain-computer-interfaces at the Technische Universität Berlin, Germany; Joerg Fingerhut, neuroscientist and scientific director of the Association of Neuroesthetics; and Ivana Franke, an installation artist exploring our perceptions.

The panel will discussed how the interdisciplinary field of affective neuroscience has made monumental headway in the understanding of emotions and their related correlates in the brain in the last decade. New technologies and state-of-the-art analyses methods (such as machine-learning and artificial intelligence) have been developed to recognise, interpret and process human affect through brain signals or the detection of facial micro-expressions. Within the field of affective neuroscience, neuroaesthetics is relatively young. It focuses on the study of aesthetic emotions, including beauty, awe, interest and chills. The implications for the arts are both exciting and dangerous.

Crucial questions need to be answered:

• What can we learn about beauty and the arts from monitoring ‘aesthetic emotion’?

• Are the arts under threat by attempts to quantify their value and apply scientific labels?

• And what are the ethics of an art market with access to this information? AXNS and a panel of experts from across neuroscience, neurotechnology and the arts will probe further into these questions and many more, to explore the artistic, sociological and ethical implications of quantifying aesthetic emotions.


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