Infinitely Malleable – Approaching contemporary sculptural practice through the notion of neural plasticity
Contemporary sculpture has a strong history of interaction with the body through experimentation with perception. Since the 1960s, artists have made works that test embodiment and question how direct bodily experiences influence thought. These phenomenological works use installation, video-feedback, light, mirrors, and other devices to extend spatial and temporal subjectivity, often involving participation by the viewer.
This analysis of cognitive embodiment and the creativity involved in transforming physical objects is also demonstrated by the mirror box devised by neurologist V.S.Ramachandran. Clinically, the mirror box is thought to produce neural changes in the brain illustrating the notion of neural plasticity and challenging the previous position that the adult brain is immutable. Not only is the mirror box similar to sculptural objects but the notion of plasticity has implications for understanding our responses to both everyday objects and works of art.
Current neurobiological studies of art primarily focus on vision and two-dimensional works. The neurobiological study of sculpture and consideration of the viewer’s moving body is inherently a more complex and broader area of investigation. This paper will consider neural plasticity from the position of an art practitioner and seeks to explore and expand, through sculptural practice, the conceptualisation of space and the body.Download Infinitely Malleable – Approaching contemporary sculptural practice through the notion of neural plasticity (651.11 KB)