Neuroconcretism: “The whole is other than the sum of the parts”

Guest Post by Rafaela Miranda Rocha

In the late 50s in Rio de Janeiro, a group of artists decided to break with the rational, industrial-like themes of the Concrete Art movement. Rejecting the serial form, optical effects, and the influence of science and technology, their works favoured physicality rather than intellect.

“The recovery of the creative potential of the artist – no longer considered as an inventor of industrial prototypes – and the effective incorporation of the spectator – who, by touching and manipulating the works, becomes an integral part of them – were presented as attempts to neutralize a certain technical and scientific inclination perceived in Concretism.”

More than 50 years have passed since the Neoconcrete Manifesto and technological breakthroughs have led us into another scientific revolution. We are going deeper into space, into the land, into the oceans and into our bodies, than ever before, and these discoveries and images are providing us with answers while raising tons of new questions. While the Neoconcretists might have rejected science for it’s rationality, I feel breakthroughs in the field of quantum physics and, more recently, the Higgs boson discovery for example, point us to a great unknown and, in the case of artists, fuel curiosity and imagination.

“The whole is other than the sum of the parts” Kurt Koffka

In Neuroconcretism I use visual references of the Neoconcrete movement, more specifically the woodcuts of Lygia Pape, to create a cycle where the structures that allow us to see and identify form, contrast and colour are being deconstructed and transformed into objects of vision, thus stimulating themselves. To dissociate these organic structures from their origin (living things) and depict them as pure form, I based the drawings on Gestalt theory, particularly the laws of grouping. Our form-generating capability, known as gestalt effect, allows us to visually recognize figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves, but it is our subjective minds that will give meaning to these apparently plain forms.

I’m bringing science into art, but in a completely pictoric and subjective way. The choices of how to draw these images stripping them of all their ‘organicity’ were instinctive, a completely personal interpretation and expression of the scientific data analysed. Even though the structures portrayed are universal, each individual, and therefore, each individual brain, will respond to them in a particular way. Call it my 21st century take on the spectator incorporation the Neoconcretists praised so much.

Refer to this previous post for more about Rafaela’s conversations with scientists at the ANU.

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  1. [...] I did for the project’s blog explaining the concept behing the work I’ll be showing: Neuroconcretism, a series of ink drawings based on the structures involved in our visual [...]