Emotional Rationalism


With the recent opening of the Centre for Contemporary Culture la Strozzina in Florence, the Italian cultural landscape has a new cutting edge institution. Franziska Nori, the Project Director, stresses CCCS 'projects will tackle aspects of town planning, economics, social and political development, the sciences, technology as well as aesthetics and ethics, as contemporary art itself has already broken free of the individual disciplinary approach.' Curated by Nori and scholar Martin Steinhoff, the inaugural exhibition ‘Emotional Systems’ will explore the topic of emotions in light of recent scientific discoveries about the human brain that have proposed that reason and emotion are not two different fields but are interrelated realms. In ‘Mechanics of Emotions’ (1996-05), Maurice Benayoun monitors the multiple queries fed into Internet search engines. Utilizing custom-made software, he cross-references this information against words that illustrate the user’s emotional condition—for example, ‘glad’ and ‘nervous.’ He then creates 3D world maps that render a perspective of people’s feelings globally. A related work is Christian Nold’s ‘Emotional Mapping’ (2007), a device that detects skin tension, thus recording the individual's physical reactions to different stimuli in a given situation. After plotting the data on Google Earth, Nold created a visual chart of what he has called an ‘emotional map of Florence.’ The project will unfold in three parts: an exhibition--on view since Novermber 30--a publication and then a series of public programs that will bring together artists and scientists. Ultimately it will reveal how the two usually separate worlds of the human experience--reason and emotion--are in fact connected to an extent that perhaps only artists can imagine. -- Miguel Amado