Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain
Neurobiologist and pioneer of vision neuroscience, Semir Zeki is one of the leading voices in the dialog of how art and science meet in the brain. Inner Vision, one of his earlier publications, sets the groundwork for the field of neuroaesthetics which Zeki has published prolifically on for the latter part of his career. Beginning with the premise that the visual arts, being created by and viewed through the visual sense, are in fact an extension of the visual brain, Zeki proposes that both the brain and art can be boiled down to a "quest for the essentials" of reality. Armed with the biology of vision, Zeki discusses a number of (self-admittedly, only) modernist artists including Vermeer, Magritte and Picasso, as examples of art which have knowingly or unknowingly elucidated specific aspects of the neuroscience of vision. As he explains in his opening chapter, "I should [in this book] like to enlarge upon my view of Shakespeare and Wagner as neurologist who understood, whiteout ever realizing it, something about the mind, and therefore the brain, by saying that most painters are also neurologists, though in a different sense: they are those who have experimented upon and, without ever realizing it, understood something about the organization of the visual brain, though with techniques that are unique to them." Inner Vision is a fascinating read for neuroscientists and artists alike, with an underlying message that a theory of aesthetics should include neurobiological underpinnings because after all, aesthetic sensations are judged, facilitated, and experienced through the biology of our brains.