[Yasmin_discussions] from Hervé-Pierre Lambert

Guto Nobrega gutonobrega at gmail.com
Tue Feb 10 19:07:19 EET 2009

Dear Yasminers,

I would like to introduce myself to this list and put some questions  
on this topic of synaesthesia, mainly motivated by the article of  
Sergio Basbaum (commented on this discussion).

I am Brazilian artist, researcher and teacher doing Ph.D. at the  
Planetary Collegium program/ University of Plymouth – UK.  My studies  
are pretty much focused on the interrelation of the observer, artist  
and the artwork (in a form of a technical object), which I consider as  
being a interconnection of organic nature.

  In the course of my research I have developed the artwork   
“Breathing”, which involves a simple robotic system connected to a  
plant via electrodes. The title “Breathing” came after the observation  
that the best way of dialogue (more significant from the point of view  
of the experience)  with the whole system was through the act of  
breathing (a video of “Breathing” can be watched  online at http://web.me.com/gutonobrega/Portifolio/Breathing.html) 

  I bring this artwork for the discussion for some reasons, one of  
which is that my research concern resonates with that of Basbaum, as  
he describes at the end of his article ("Consciousness and Perception:  
The Point of Experience and the Meaning of the World We Inhabit");  
“(…) what I've been looking to understand is the kind of perception  
that is being shaped in our present technologically saturated  
environment”. In my specific case I try to investigate this kind of  
perception through the creation and experience of technological beings  

  The point I would like to make is that, in principle, “Breathing”  
seems to lead to a break with the hegemony of the eye as mediation of  
reality, as it leads the observer to other sensorial experiences,  
predominantly the one that informs our sense of being alive, as it  
involves an essential feature of human beings, namely, the act of  

  However, the phenomenon experienced is, in Flusser’s terms, that of  
a “technical apparatus”.  In the case of “Breathing” it is a hybrid of  
an artificial and natural organism. For Flusser all technical  
apparatuses are “black boxes that simulate thinking in the sense of a  
combinatory game”, they are already system of programmed/ programmable  
scientific concepts.

In that sense I would like to ask: would the technical apparatus  
always impose its embedded logic and make impossible any attempt to  
perceive the world it takes part of beyond its own programmed  
concepts?  Is that possible that a shift from the hegemony of the eyes  
to a more holistic embodied form of perception would offer ways to  
overcome the limits of a recursive logic present in all technological  
structures and the possibility to see creatively, beyond the black  
box? Would be this "in between" Basbaum (as you have commented in your  
last msg) a necessary position (no too close, not too distant) to  
experience the phenomena emergent from a world mediated by technologies?

I look forward to people’s ideas and comments.

All my best,

Guto Nóbrega.


On 9 Feb 2009, at 16:38, sergio basbaum wrote:

> Dear Hervé-Pierre,
> Thank you very much for quoting my article. When we write, we never  
> know who
> will read, so we always get surprised when we realize people do read  
> what we
> write. Indeed, I have been working on some ideas on synesthesia and  
> culture,
> and in the last meeting in Hamilton a definetely felt that some kind  
> of
> approach which takes into account the question of culture is needed.
> How could somebody talk experiment grapheme-colour synesthesia in a
> pre-literate society, for example? These and other questions have  
> led me to
> draft sometings on this topic on the last months.
> The overstressing of vision, the "imperialism" of the eye, on our  
> culture
> could be suggested to be in a certain way "colonizing" the other  
> senses, as
> to the point of, for some people, emerge as an experience. But this  
> are just
> intuitions by now.
> On the other hand, I like very much Van Campen's notion of  
> synesthesia being
> something "in between". This dialogues very well with the notion that
> synesthesia is deeply related to contemporary technological culture,  
> in
> which all strictly disciplinary thinking seems to be unable to deal  
> with a
> lerger understanding of life and meaning.
> all the best from Brazil,
> s.
> On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 10:24 AM, herve pierre lambert <hplambert at hotmail.com
>> wrote:
>> On the internet, there is an interesting article easy to encounter,  
>> written
>> by Sergio Roclaw Basbaum, "Consciousness and Perception: The Point of
>> Experience and the Meaning of the World We Inhabit". He claims that "
>> consciousness is aculturally shaped phenomena, and that any  
>> conception that
>> may emerge about it from a traditional Western scientific approach  
>> cannot go
>> further than suggest a model of consciousness that, at best, can  
>> correspond
>> to the experience of consciousness in the culture in which this very
>> specific way of dealing with reality is embedded."
>> The anthropological dimension of synesthesia - as a metaphor or as
>> neurological  phenomenon- is usually avoided or forgotten. Van Campen
>> alluded to this reality in "Synthetic Indians" with a commentary on  
>> the book
>> World of sense by Constance Classen. Basbaum developed this idea of a
>> synesthesia phenomenon conditioned by culture in a philosophical  
>> reflexion
>> using references to Classen and Flusser. The last year I had told  
>> that we
>> needed informations on synesthesia in the different cultures of the
>> multicultural Mediterranean world. The emergency of an anthropology  
>> focused
>> in the sensory worlds of different cultures enabled to put into  
>> perspective
>> the western association between seeing and meaning. Quotation from  
>> the same
>> article by Basbaum:
>> "Different cultures emphasis in other senses gives birth to  
>> cosmologies
>> based, for example:
>> - in thermal sensations, like the Tzotzil's of Chiapas, Mexico;
>> -  in olfactory sensations, like the Ongee's of Little Andaman  
>> Island, in
>> Bengal Bay;
>> - in a highly synesthetic cosmology, like the Desana's of Amazon,  
>> which
>> make meaning of their world based on multisensory correspondences
>> experimented under hallucinogenic plants trance; (Classen, 1993:  
>> Chapter 6)
>> - in such an emphasis on aural experience, like the Kaluli people of
>> Bosavi, as to "reckon time and space by reference to auditory cues  
>> and
>> entertain a fundamentally acoustic view of the structure of their  
>> physical
>> and social universe." (Howes, 2003:xvii)
>> These radically different sensorial arrangements (and there are many
>> more), the meanings they ascribe to the world and the ways of  
>> dealing with
>> life that emerge from them, make reasonable for us to talk not  
>> anymore about
>> a "point of view", typical of Western culture, but of a "point of
>> experience", the kind of hierarchy of the sensorium that structures
>> experiences and cosmologies in different cultures."
>> Hervé-Pierre Lambert
>> Mein GlückSeit ich des Suchens müde ward,Erlernte ich das  
>> Finden.Seit mir
>> ein Wind hielt Widerpart,Segl' ich mit allen Winden.Ashita wa  
>> ashita no kazé
>> ga fuku
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> -- 
> -- Prof. Dr. Sérgio Roclaw Basbaum
> -- Coord. Tecnologia e Mídias Digitais
> -- Pós-Graduação Tec.da Inteligência e Design Digital - TIDD (PUC-SP)
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