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April 24, 2008, 7:30 PM

The Psycho-Neurology of the Photographic Arts

Participants: Cristina Alberini, Bevil Conway, David Freedberg, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte (moderator), Douglas Nickel, Robert Polidori

"Art does not reproduce what is visible; it makes things visible." -Paul Klee

Photography is most often seen as a mechanical, objective recording of a visual scene. This view at once effaces the role of the photographer, the technical agent by which a view becomes an image, and the observer's interpretive engagement with the photograph. The intent of this panel is to overcome this limited approach by exploring photography from multiple perspectives: practical, critical, historical, psychological, and neurophysiological. The discussion will not privilege any one perspective over others, nor will it seek to amalgamate them into a generalized perspective. Rather, by stretching the photographic field between these varied approaches, the panelists will endeavor to explore tensions, open up fissures, and illuminate commonalities among them. The roundtable will examine, challenge, and extend the ways in which photography is understood, hopefully generating novel insights into the practice and significance of the medium, and illuminating Walter Benjamin's assessment that "the camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses."

Cristina Alberini is Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Structural and Chemical Biology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her current research interest is in learning and memory.

Bevil Conway is an artist, and the Knafel Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Wellesley College. His research focuses on the neural mechanisms of color, and the relationship between visual neuroscience, visual art and art practice.

David Freedberg is Professor of Art History at Columbia University and Director of The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. He is best known for his work on psychological responses to art, and particularly for his studies on iconoclasm and censorship.

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte is President and founder of Antidote International Films. He has produced critically acclaimed and award-winning films for over a decade, including Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, The Last Winter, The Hawk is Dying, Mysterious Skin, Thirteen, and Laurel Canyon. Selected as one of Variety's Producers to Watch in 2003, Levy-Hinte edited the Academy Award-winning film When We Were Kings and serves on the Board of Trustees for The Nation Institute, The Independent Feature Project, and the Jeht Foundation.

Douglas Nickel is Andrea V. Rosenthal Professor of Modern Art at Brown University. A specialist in nineteenth century British and American photography, Nickel was a curator in the photography department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1993 to 2003. Prior to his appointment at Brown, he was director of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona at Tucson. His publications include Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception, Francis Frith in Egypt and Palestine: A Victorian Photographer Abroad, and Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll.

Robert Polidori is a photographer whose work has been shown in the Edwynn Houk, Pace/McGill, and Robert Miller Galleries, among others. He is a staff photographer with The New Yorker, and has twice been awarded the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography. His most recent book of photographs, After the Flood, documents the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Twenty of these photographs were shown in a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in 2006, memorializing the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.


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