Discover the fascinating science behind our sense of somatosensory, and explore how it can be used for creative expression and artistic practice.
Date: Friday, October 20th 2023
Location: Kunsthalle Eye Square, Berlin
Maximum Number of Participants: 25
Somatosensory perception is the ability of the body to sense and perceive different types of physical stimuli, such as touch, pressure, temperature, pain, and proprioception (the sense of body position and movement). This perception is mediated by the somatosensory system, which includes sensory receptors in the skin, muscles, joints, and internal organs, as well as neural pathways that transmit sensory information from these receptors to the brain. The brain then processes this information and creates a conscious perception of the sensation. Somatosensory perception is important for many everyday activities, such as sensing the texture of objects, feeling pain, and maintaining balance and coordination.
But this workshop isn’t just about science; it’s about harnessing the power of somatosensory perception for creative expression and artistic practice.
Imagine using your heightened sense of touch, your intimate connection with your own body, to create art that transcends visual limits. Whether you’re an experienced artist or a curious beginner, this session will inspire and transform your approach to art!
- 18:30 Welcome Participants and Housekeeping
- 18:45 Introduction + Speed meeting to EDGE Neuroscience & Art e.V., our hosts Eye Square, the workshop series, session and esteemed guests. Introduction round for attendees.
- 19:00 Activity 1. Let me get to know you. Somatosensory exploration in pairs
- 19: 20 Neuroscientific talk + Q&A
- 20:10 Artist Talk + Practice
- 20:20 Artistic References
- 20:45 – end Activity 3. Embodied practice + Collective Artistic creation and Networking.
Dr. Henning M. Reimann
Henning Reimann is a postdoc neuroscientist working on how large-scale brain networks give rise to sensory experience, pain and consciousness using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). After studying (molecular) biology & psychology in Göttingen, he graduated at the MPI for Experimental Medicine, were he examined the function of presynaptic priming proteins in hippocampal neurons. In his PhD at the MDC for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, he developed a system to study large-scale brain networks encoding thermoreception and pain using fMRI in mice, which he transferred to humans during his postdoc. He is active in the 3Rs initiative on animal welfare at the Charité and in the international preclinical fMRI community, focusing on the effects of diverse anesthetics on brain function. Currently, he is pursuing the link between pain and suffering, en route to developing strategies for diagnosis and targeted therapy of chronic pain, in an interdisciplinary collaboration at the interface of philosophy, medicine, and neuroscience.
Among all the senses, the somatosensory system plays a unique role: at the skin, the boundaries between exteroception and interoception become blurred. Affective touch, temperature, and pain inform us less about object properties than about our own bodily status. This talk focuses on how salience emerges from an evolutionarily ancient brain system. It recognizes biologically relevant events, prioritizes them over other stimuli, renders them in consciousness, and initiates action patterns to protect us from danger. The system provides a key to explaining why salient events are always conscious, why even urgent matters fade away in the face of pain, how pain prompts us into action and why this bears a window into the scientific exploration of suffering.
Margherita Pevere is an internationally acknowledged artist and researcher working across bioart and performance with a distinctive visceral signature. Her inquiry hybridizes biotechnology, ecology, queer and death studies to create arresting installations and performances that trail today’s ecological complexity. She is currently developing “Lament,” an artistic project supported by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. She earned a Doctorate in Artistic Research at Aalto University in 2023 with the dissertation “Arts of vulnerability. Queering leaks in artistic research and bioart”. With Marco Donnarumma and Andrea Familari she co-founded Fronte Vacuo, a performance group that combines body art, dance, theater, audiovisual performance and technology. In 2022 she co-curated with Theresa Schubert and Karolina Żyniewicz at Berlin’s Kunstquartier Bethanien Membranes Out Of Order, an exhibition responding to the current ethical and cultural challenges posed by the interplay of biotechnology and ecology. www.margheritapevere.com
Sensuousness, intimacy, disgust, grief: Margherita Pevere’s practice deals with radical emotions and sensations. Mediated by culture, these sensations and emotions affect one’s attitude to the living (and dying) and to that which is still called nature. In a sensorial session featuring a selection of her own working materials, Margherita will invite the audience to engage with those emotions and reflect on how they affect personal and collective ethics.
Picture: Margherita Pevere and W.02 (from the series Wombs), picture by Maja Bacic