Art Science Talks Zurich

Science as Game – Art as Play

This LASERZurich featured two renowned researchers that cross pollinate their research by presenting their own collaborations.

Professor Dr. Margarete Jahrmann (Experimental Game Designer/ epistemologist) and Professor Dr. Stefan Glasauer (Neuroscientist/ sensorimotor researcher). The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Jill Scott.

Stefan Glasauer
talked about experimental paradigms and situations used in human neuroscience and experimental psychology and will discuss what can or cannot be concluded about human brain function and behaviour from data acquired in such situations. Experimental situations in science depend strongly on repeatability and happen in a reduced laboratory setting. They are thus distinct from many of the important real life situations, which only happen once, but in a rich environmental context. Important aspects of that context are missing in experiments, and many experimental paradigms are more comparable to games than to life. The scientifically desired repeatability has even led to several experimental results that have been discussed for more than a century but may only be side effects of the particular experimental system. He gave several examples from scientific practice and discuss their relation to games and art practice.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Glasauer is a neuroscientist teaching and working at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. He is interested in general principles underlying perception, action, and sensorimotor control and co-authored more than 200 articles and book chapters. After studying Electrical Engineering with a focus in Cybernetics, he completed his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Behavioural Physiology on perception of gravity. Following a postdoctoral stay at the CNRS and College de France in Paris, he returned to Munich to coordinate the Center for Sensorimotor Research. He is founding member of the Munich Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, member of the scientific boards of the Graduate School for Systemic Neurosciences and of the Munich Center for the Neurosciences, and member of the Center of Competence for Neural Engineering of the Technical University Munich. Recently, he lectured in Vienna and Zurich at the VOID book soirees by Jahrmann & Moswitzer, and collaborated with Jahrmann for their co-appearance at the Opera of Entropy performed in Vienna. In his scientific practice, he uses various methods from behavioural experiments and psychophysics, neurophysiological methods such as eye movement recordings, motion tracking, or posturography, brain imaging by functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT), to mathematical methods from computational and theoretical neuroscience.

Margarete Jahrmann
introduced ideas about the experimental system as hermeneutical surface in contemporary performing arts and game design. She will critically question gamification methods for “motivation design” in scientific experiments in relation to the recent increase of functional brain scans in design and life style. How does the speculative social meaning of these scans of our personal “data” influence the potential inscription about our human condition? How can the monitoring of oxygen levels in the blood and construction of flesh and neuronal fibres be read as valid text, considering the “paradoxical” blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) effects as basic parameters for functional imaging of brain activity? Margarete suggested that a better understanding of the potential and political dimensions of functional brain scan analysis can be informed by media theoretical views on the meaning of data in networks. Media can highlight the surveillance issues of neurophysiological experiments using fMRI, EEG or functional Near-infrared-spectroscopy. Under this angle, Margarete presented fragments of the 2016 Decision Demon experiment she co-developed with Stefan for the occasion of the Opera of Entropy Vienna, including the brain-scan data of herself watching approximate void in white noise and connected it to her ongoing game art performances on the collapsing of the NSA communication scanning towers in Berlin Teufelsberg and on the very active Onyx Satellite field in the Swiss French Alps.

Prof. Dr. Margarete Jahrmann is an internationally renowned artist and researcher with a focus on critical media and game art. She holds a professorship for Game Design and was co-director of the New Media and Arts department at the University of the Arts Zurich and is senior lecturer Digital Arts at University of Applied Arts Vienna. She was awarded a distinction in interactive arts, Prix Ars Electronica 2003 and the software arts award transmediale Berlin 2004. In 2006 she founded the Ludic Society and co-edited the Ludic Society magazine with Max Moswitzer. In 2010 she was arts research fellow at the MIT Gambit Lab and in 2013 she developed the Alternate Reality Exhibition “Play & Prosume” at Kunsthalle Vienna as outcome of an EU funded research project on the participative imperative and the power of subliminal messages. In 2016 she and Moswitzer presented a conceptual work entitled, “VOID Book” in a series of play performance soirees at Cabaret Voltaire Zürich and in ISEA Hongkong. Subsequently, she co-developed together with the neuroscientist S. Glasauer a 2nd order neuro game installation at the Opera of Entropy in Vienna. Currently, she is research fellow on Warburg’s Memnosyne and Pathos Formulas at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin (ZfL).
LASERZurich is part of the world wide series LASER Talks sponsored by Leonardo the International Society for Arts, Sciences, and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST). Founded in 2008, LASERs are now happening in over a dozen locales internationally: Zurich – Life Science and the University of the Arts, University of San Francisco, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, New York City, London, Tacoma, Toronto, Montreal and Kansas State University.
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About Leonardo/ISAST
Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) is a nonprofit organization that serves the global network of distinguished scholars, artists, scientists, researchers and thinkers through our programs focused on interdisciplinary work, creative output and innovation. From its beginnings, Leonardo/ISAST has served as the virtual community for purposes of networking, resource-sharing, best practices, research and events in Art/Science/Technology. The organization is well known for the publication of Leonardo Magazine, MIT Press.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Jill Scott / Dr. Boris Magrini
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Contact Phone: +41 79 524 92 11 / +41 76 571 24 27