BREAKING THE MIND BARRIER: The Artscience of Neurocosmology by Todd Siler

BREAKING THE MIND BARRIER: The Artscience of Neurocosmology

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Metaphors and metaphysics meet in this magnum opus by M.I.T. scholar-artist Siler. The thesis is to see the connectedness between brain and cosmos; the subtheses are to seek multiple paths to ""truth""--through art, science, and ""artscience."" The reader is well advised to turn to the final sections--called ""Branches""--as skeleton keys to Siler's thinking. Here, he discourses on his and other artists' works sympathetic to the aims of M.I.T.'s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, ""to explore uncharted possibilities of creative expression"" involving multidisciplinary collaborations. The abstract photographs of Gyorgy Kepes, the huge laser/music/sculptures of teams of artists, the earthworks of Robert Smithson, the atom image sculptures of Kenneth Snelson--all capture the concepts that Siler is expounding in his ""neurocosmology."" They are ""metaphorms"" connecting brain/mind process and structure with the process and structure of the universe. The main text here is a series of themes and variations on brain science and astronomy, seeing analogies in evolution and function--for example, in the way neurons communicate and stars and/or galaxies interact. None of this is to be taken literally, Siler endlessly reminds us; he just finds it extraordinarily instructive, liberating the imagination and triggering new hypotheses. So be it. Siler is not expounding a new idealism; he is thinking visually, asserting that art, science, and society will benefit from the dualistic resonances of his neurocosmological framework. There are dividends here in the form of basic information about neuroscience and cosmology--Siler clearly has clone his homework--and he speaks authoritatively on an important movement in art; but a pivotal work of philosophy this is not.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1990
Publisher: Simon & Schuster