Derek Hodgson is known for research into understanding palaeolithic art by applying the findings of visual perception and neuroscience. He has published numerous influential papers on the topic and contributed to several edited books on the origins of “art”. Other research interests include cognitive evolution, lithics, and the relationship between evolution and art. Subsidiary research interests include the psychology of children’s drawing and 20th century abstract art. He has also contributed to the “Lucy to Language” project sponsored by the British Academy and is presently a research associate in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. He has has lectured on the above subjects as an invited speaker at conferences around the world. Theoretical research is counterbalanced by a long term preoccupation with making abstract art, of which a number of works have been displayed in UK public galleries.
Title of Talk: The visual brain, embodiment and the first visual cultures: what can they tell us about “art”
Teaser: As visual information is processed by the brain in different areas to that of language, and given the fact that visual culture is closely associated with discrete regions of the visual cortex, this has implications for understanding the emergence of materially engaged practices (usually referred to as “art”). In addition, visual perception, imagery, and memory are underwritten not just by sensory criteria but also semantic factors that allow images to be understood as such. Visual art can engage any one of these levels of visual processing, which are realized through implicit and explicit cognitive mechanisms. In addition, as the visual brain is a product of long standing evolutionary determinants, it remains constrained by certain overriding perceptual criteria and embodied factors. These constraints seem to have been important in determining the format of the earliest visual cultures that arose around 100,000 years ago and continue to exert an influence even in the modern world. This paper will accordingly describe the relevance of such constraints to the first visual art as well as the importance of such determinants in understanding modern day visual culture.