June 30, 2009 - Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes - Laboratoire espace cerveau / station 1
June 30, 2009

Laboratoire espace cerveau / station 1

Laboratory space brain
Station 1

19 June – 16 August 2009

Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne & Rhône-Alpes
11, rue Docteur Dolard
F-69100 Villeurbanne


Initiated by the artist Ann Veronica Janssens and Nathalie Ergino, director of the Institut d’Art Contemporain, this project proposes to work in the field of artistic experimentation and explore the practical and theoretical research enabling us to link the space and the brain. This interdisciplinary laboratory brings together the reflections and experiments of artists and scientists (neuroscience, physics, astrophysics…), and also of philosophers, anthropologists, art historians and theoreticians.

With the participation of
Elisa Brune : writer (novelist, essayist) and scientific journalist.
Denis Cerclet : anthropologist, lecturer, University Lumière Lyon 2.
Arnauld Pierre : art historian, professor, University Paris IV Sorbonne.
Jean-Louis Poitevin : doctorate in philosophy, writer and art critic.
Pascal Rousseau : art historian and curator, lecturer, University François Rabelais, Tours.




The principle of the brain space laboratory came about through some mutual observations. (…)

For presentday scientific research is renewing our approach to space and its articulation with the brain. From advances in neurophysiology to physical discoveries (quantum physics, string theory, nanoscience…), our apprehension of the world has tipped over from Euclidian space into an as yet indeterminate space, undergoing mutation. While thought, taking in the perspectivist Renaissance, has always spatialised and constructed the world, can we still speak today of its representation?

How can the political act then be renewed? What becomes of the stakes of art?

This project proposes to explore the cognitive and phenomenological extension of thought, notably through the consideration of the “corps en acte”(1) [body in act] as a constituent element of the world. It makes the assumption of going beyond traditional dualities, and their hidden conditioning — objectivity / subjectivity, conscious / unconscious, centrality / decentring, materiality / immateriality…

Rather than envisage the relations of the brain to space, this Laboratory means to rely on space itself. First as a possible synonym for the artistic act, secondly as an extension of the eye, brain and body.

McLuhan(2) talked about this worldwide extension, saying that man casts his own central nervous system like a net across the globe which he turns into a huge living brain. Why not now picture the cosmos as a brain?

Art could be an intuitive, mobile operating mode, capable of linking research in neuroscience, physics and astrophysics.

During the twentieth century, many artists put into practice new approaches to the relationship with the viewer-visitor. From an egocentred posture, which conveyed their feeling in plastic terms, they moved on to propositions of the “allocentred” type, in which the perception of the world was then as it were given to be shared, following a process whereby the “self” and the other blended together, making room for the emergence of the experience per se. So it is important that the Brain Space Laboratory (Station 1) should decode and re-examine the past artistic approaches in the light of contemporary artistic practices. And how can we consider today the researches and works of the artists as Micol Assaël, Berdaguer and Péjus, Olafur Eliasson, Cerith Wyn Evans, Bertrand Lamarche, Carsten Nicolaï…?

Progress of the Brain Space Laboratory
While the laboratory’s aim is to take part in thinking about these upheavals affecting the whole of society, it also involves contributing to the development of artistic research in progress, with no guarantee, however, of ever getting anywhere.

Awaiting a possible exhibition, the Brain Space Laboratory will be developed up until 2011 in “stations”, in various forms — day seminars, lectures, papers, presentations of works, collating documentation, publications, blog…

As an exploration unit, the Laboratory will thus pass through various “fields”: neuroscience, physics and astrophysics, nanoscience, mathematical objects and topology, new technologies, psychoanalysis and neuroscience, parapsychology, hypnosis and telepathy, non clairvoyance, shamanism and animism, or again spaces of non-vision…

1. Lecture by Alain Berthoz, “Espace et cognition”, November 2005

2. McLuhan in 1964, commented on by Arnauld Pierre, “L’œil multiplié”, exhibition catalogue “L’œil moteur. Art optique et cinétique 1950-1975″, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, 2005

Institut d’art contemporain
11, rue Docteur Dolard
F- 69100 Villeurbanne
Tél.+ 33 (0)4 78 03 47 00

Opening times
Wednesday to Friday – 1 pm to 7 pm

Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes
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