Sarah Ciraci


This thesis draws upon research in Eastern philosophy and neuroscience to argue that art is capable of metabolizing and embodying different levels of reality, and therefore functions as an instrument that can generate states of consciousness. The research and writing that went into this text has provided the critical and conceptual foundation for a new artwork, which I present in the last chapter. Historically, art changes in tandem with the paradigm shifts of a given era. This thesis argues that our contemporary paradigm shift has introduced new ways of considering the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity. Such categories no longer conform to a Cartesian paradigm, which insists on considering them separately, and instead more closely resembles the context of quantum physics, which establishes an entanglement of subjectivity and objectivity. Neuroscientists and philosophers of mind contend that consciousness is a special information process in which new knowledge is generated. My thesis conflates consciousness and creativity, arguing that contemporary art is a privileged field in which this human ability is concretely developed, and in doing so, preserves individuals and society at-large from the danger of repetitive and automatic thought. (McLuhan, 1968). To outline this argument, I draw upon notions like Damasio’s “neural patterns”, Chalmer’s “information spaces” and the “ego tunnel model” defined by Metzinger. Attempting to interpret the interdependence between subject and object, it can be taken out the existence of a gap between complex, abstract scientific discoveries and their ability to be metabolized on individual level, a gap that Francisco Varela attempts to resolve through his invocation of the need for an embodied knowledge, which he explores by bridging studies in cognitive science and Buddhist mindfulness practices. The present research adopts the position that an analogous process of embodied knowledge exists in the artistic field, thanks to art’s ability to reconnect observations of how the outer world is experienced on a subjective level, creating a circularity—a bond—between subject and object, between art work and viewer, which is never fixed but always mutually changing and evolving.

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