Return to site

Thinking about Thoughts

If a union is to take place between opposites like spirit and matter, conscious and unconscious, bright and dark, and so on, it will happen in a third thing, which represents not a compromise but something new. - C. G. Jung

The objective of my research is to understand the physics of thought, 'thought' being my fantasy of invisible ‘information-particle pattern's' transmitted and received by my body (my brain). To do this I utilize scientific speculation and emotional logic to form a collection of imaged theory. I visualize my conclusions in installation art works referring to the effect of these ‘information particles' on my life choices and the many, many questions that arise.

I need to know how I exist and why. Not just in the sense of how and why I contribute to society as an artist, but also in the sense of how this physically happens on a smaller than nanoscopic level. We all have experiences like: 'a second later and I would have been under that car…!' What communication is there between me and the universe to be at the moments that I am? What steers me towards a moment that considers me to be in the right place at the right time and vice versa? I feel like I am talking to myself all the time, but only part of the language reaches my consciousness.

In theoretical physics, there is M-theory, mother of all theories, originating from different string theories. It joins the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics together, saying that nature does not consist of point particles, but of tiny vibrating strings of energy [the Elegant Universe, Brian Green]. The different combination of frequencies of these strings determines in what form this energy manifests itself in the universe. A theory of everything must also apply to the functions of my brain and my emotional world. This means to me that my thoughts must be this vibrating energy too, resulting in manifestations of my actions, ideas, choices, emotions, and behaviour. These tiny strings vibrate in extra hidden dimensions that are curled up in the fabric of time and space. On scientific weblogs questions arise if these extra dimensions are conscious dependant or not. This inspires me to visualise how conceptual connections work and how my own consciousness moves through these dimensions. One thought, two thought, three thought…

As my tapes are being rolled I wonder about the power of thought. What is going on in my brain that I don't know about other than the maintenance of my biological system? I need to know what a thought is. Thought is linked to my brain, but where does my brain begin and end? [Marjan Slob, philosopher] Is my brain a computer connected to some kind of internet? Jung's collective unconscious? Is thought information? Are thoughts computations of chance? Is my universe a constructed moment of hidden and unhidden information networks that allow me to experience a shared fraction of reality? Would it be my genes that hold the codes and guide me on an individual path in chaos? What am I receiving and what am I transmitting? There must be something fundamental inside my body that could react to the inertia of individual and shared thought. Is there a relation between the difference of my DNA and mitochondrial DNA? Which chemicals in my brain cells uphold the balance of our shared reality? What is the function of my knowing and not knowing? What is the function of me being an artist, what is the function of art? As soon as my dead skin leaves my body and is stuck to the rolls of tape, I imagine that my thoughts are frozen in time. Slowly radiating their remaining energy until all material is assimilated.

As an artist in lab I would like to see if there is a measurable effect of my art on the brain of the viewer over a period of time. Documenting the build up of an artwork to a moment that a new area of the brain lights up. Adding more and more conceptual layers. Create slow breeching experiments to portray the neural paths taken when extracting my thoughts, to gain more insight in their effective transposition. I want to compare my brain to that of the viewer while looking at my art to see if any neural patterns can be retraced. I want to make art more elite than ever, in the sense that it is only made in collaboration with one person. Focussing on location bound public and location bound actions. Being there, extracting thoughts and enlarging them to experience. I am not sure if there is a third thing as such and that spirit and matter are opposites as Jung says. I would rather like to see them as the same element each in a different manifestation, art being the materialisation of thought. Art not being a mere illustration of scientific research, but the trigger of oscillating reflection on location.

NB These words were shared in 2005 during the opening of the Arts & Genomics Centre at the KNAW in Amsterdam. During which a video was shown of how to make tape rolls, involving the audience in making their own tape roles. Since then this has become a signature ritual used to bind people in time and space.