A blog or two back, I inquired about scientific testing designed to illuminate whether human beings react similarly to great works of art. I have often wondered whether such tests could somehow show that "greatness" in art could be measured. Well, a neuroscientist is close to finding the answer. V.S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and a psychology professor at U.C. San Diego claims that, "'our knowledge of human vision and of the brain is now sophisticated enough that we can speculate intelligently on the neural basis of art and maybe begin to construct a scientific theory of artistic experience.'" Incredible but sad, perhaps? The author of "This Is Your Brain on Art," Morgan Meis suggests so.
Meis cautions that there is a certain fear of the unknown involved here: "we have no idea what the implications of discovering the laws of aesthetics would be." However, and as Meis points out, even if Ramachandran and others agree about the uncertainty of such an adventure, humankind will likely forge ahead with the quest to discover what makes great art great, whatever the consequences.
Speaking of great and not-so-great art is another interesting article about a new public sculpture of Michael Jackson: "What separates a stunner from a stinker?". Martin Gayford compares a statue erected outside the Fulham Football Club to Jeff Koons's iconic (?) contemporary work, Michael Jackson with Bubbles, 1988, to make his point. In Gayford's view, "If you are ever tempted to become a relativist and doubt there are any real divisions of quality in the arts, just spend a bit of time contemplating something really, really bad."Happy reading!