If I am right, art isn’t a phenomenon to be explained. Not by neuroscience, and not by philosophy. Art is itself a research practice, a way of investigating the world and ourselves. Art displays us to ourselves, and in a way makes us anew, by disrupting our habitual activities of doing and making.
From Alva Noë:
Plato articulated a variation on this same puzzle a couple of thousand years ago: You need to know what you’re looking for in order to tell when you’ve found it but, if you already know, then why go looking? The upshot, for Plato, is that you can’t learn anything new. Perhaps he would have been better off noticing that hearing, perceiving, learning, is always a matter of using what you know to make sense of what is on offer.
In practice-as-research the ‘what you know’ part comes from a deep and ongoing understanding of the nature of your practice(s).
Much more shows up for us than just what projects into our nervous system. In fact, however, paradoxical it sounds if we think of what is visible as just what projects to the eyes we see much more than is visible and more over, just because something does enter our eyes, provide a stimulus to the nervous system that doesn’t mean we experience it.
– Alva Noë