Triptych: Meme and Homo Heidelbergensis, 2004

Terry Atkinson
Triptych: Meme and Homo Heidelbergensis, 2004
Pencil, and photomontage on three canvasses
courtesy of the artist


The works I exhibit here in Sharjah are part of an ongoing series I have been working on since 1994. This series of works is intended to be part, no matter how small, of an approach to the study of mind. It is taken as a given that an approach to the study of mind is a perfectly legitimate subject with which my own practice, or anyone else’s for that matter, may be concerned, whether or not the practice then counts as art practice.

Presumably these days, no one with an adequate view of the complexities and distensions of art practice would care to spend their time sharpening the boundaries of art. Those with practices resting securely at and around the centre of art practice, that is, practices that can easily be identified as art practices, can push on making art, sanguine in the knowledge that they are producing work that, at least in its status as art, is uncontroversial.

This whole series of works is an attempt to raise a comparative study of the place of the linguistic and the visual functions in our cognitive state, ‘making and interpreting art’. I am presuming, initially at least, that our art-forming faculty (AFF) and our language-forming faculty (LFF) are interdependent, seriously entertaining the possibility that the AFF may be dependent on the LFF. It is in this sense that I conceive of this series of works as an approach to the study of mind. To close, I quote from Noam Chomsky:

‘Just as mechanical philosophy appeared to be triumphant, it was demolished by Newton, who reintroduced a kind of “occult” cause and quality . . . much to the dismay of Newton himself. The Cartesian theory of mind (such as it was) was unaffected by his discoveries, but the theory of body was demonstrated to be untenable. . . . Newton eliminated the problem of the “ghost in the machine” by exorcising the machine; the ghost was unaffected’. (Noam Chomsky, Naturalism and Dualism in New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 84)

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 7.

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