How Museums Affect the Brain, the Art of the Cover, and Other News


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How Museums Affect the Brain: According to The Atlantic, a team of researchers at the Catholic University of America and the University of Utah have conducted a pilot study that provides evidence for architecture’s power to induce meditation. As Laura C. Mallonee at Hyperallergic explains: “The researchers wanted to find out whether people visiting museums, churches, and libraries experience similar brain activity to those practicing meditation. If they were able to show that architecture facilitates such contemplation, it would mean that the benefits of meditation can be achieved not only by ‘internally-induced (self-directed) methods,’ which such research tends to focus on, but also by outwardly imposed ones.”

The Art of the Cover: While we ran our own cover story this week about the making of artist Duane Michals’s beautiful new monograph, Liv Siddall over at It’s Nice That heaped praise on how The New Yorker produces a new and iconic cover each week: “What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.”

Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards: Yesterday the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments announced this year’s recipients of the third annual Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, which honor the achievements of Carol R. Brown, who led the cultural and economic transformation of downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural district as President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001. Conceptual artist Lenka Clayton will be honored as Emerging Artist and interdisciplinary artist Jon Rubin will be honored as Established Artist. A free public ceremony will be held on December 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Hazlett Theater, with special performances by Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, Jackie Dempsey, and Daniel McCloskey.

Good Artists Copy. Great Artists Steal, in Nanoscale: In a series of sketches made by a process called nanoscale lithography, artist and nanoscience researcher Robert Hovden copied works from both M.C. Escher and painter Joy Garnett—an exercise which revealed the differing views on copyright infringement as it pertains to art. Adi Robertson over at The Verge explains: “Intellectual property creates an incentive for artists and inventors by letting them profit from their work, but Hovden’s pieces demonstrate the levels of surreality it can reach. The Escher estate, in fact, was deeply unamused by his idea. ‘All of [Escher’s] work is protected by (international) copyright laws and unauthorised use is thus punishable by law. The size of the (unauthorised) reproduction is irrelevant,’ said Mark Veldhuijsen, who manages licensing, in an email to The Verge. ‘What actually does amaze me, is the fact that you write that it is an artist who produces these small works. An artist should realise whether something is original, or just ordinary thievery.'”

When Virtual Reality is the Only Reality: According to Rhett Jones over at Animal, London-based artist Mark Farid “wants to test the limits of the human mind by experiencing the world in virtual reality for 28 days straight.” Farid’s project, Seeing I, is an effort to “experience life through another person’s eyes and ears” by living in a gallery space. There is also a central question Farid hopes to answer by the end of his investigation: “If our consciousness is experienced through the perception of sight and sound; through interaction, through technology and through our conception of knowledge, to what extent is it really our own?”