Art and the Conscious Mind- Lecture 2

The first theory this lecture tackled was when exactly where consciousness is located.

If consciousness is in the brain, then where is it? If consciousness is not in the brain then where is it?

Internalism vs externalism

The externalism argument interested me more.

“You are not your brain. We are not locked up in a prison of our own ideas and sensations. The phenomenon of consciousness, like that of life itself, is a world-involving dynamic process. We are already at home in the environment.  We are out of our heads.”

Noë, A. (2009) Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness, New York: Hill and Wang, pg. xiii

The suggestion of internalism being related to a prison is intriguing, a prison within a prison of society, the brain has to be regarded as somewhat intrusive if so.

Brain decoding was then touched upon. The images directly below the television clips are examinations of the brain while viewing these clips. This is remarkable really. It raises the suggestion of authority being able to tell what people are think one day. The corruption of private thought ultimately. Which could be another aspect of the panopticon society. I find the images below interesting enough to produce a series of paintings from.


“Our new data show that taking the full spatial pattern of brain responses into account, it is possible to provide a fully automated algorithm that predicts the dynamically changing contents of conscious perception on a moment-by-moment basis.”

Haynes and Rees, 2005, pg.1306

“My own hypothesis is that projection takes place through perceptual fields, extending out beyond the brain, connecting the seeing animal with that which is seen. Vision is rooted in the activity of the brain, but is not confined to the inside of the head.”

Rupert Sheldrake, 2005, pg.42

This extract suggests that there is much to be seen then we know, there is a theory that we know when we are being stared at.

Is the boundary between a black circle and a white background black or white?


This is interesting in relation to the topic of environment. A prison is a boundary, so our brain have boundaries too.

Where do boundaries and even us end?

“To put it bluntly since the mind isn’t in the head anyway, what use is it for me to peer into the brain? I believe that many people who use the brain scanning methods to get a handle on problems of psychology erroneously locate the mind in the head… The head s far from being the product of the brain. It derives from the interaction of the embodied brain and the world.”

Jan Koenderink, 1999

The suggestion the the interaction with world constructs the mind suggests ones environment has a huge part to play.

The brain, body and world form a continuum, they cannot really be separated, there is no fixed boundary.


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