Our deep, ancestral past continues to live on in humans of today, despite the vast changes in our modern way of life. What universities now call science, art, and humanities were originally embedded in human nature as a single world view, instilled through ritual ceremonies in which everyone participated. Although our contemporary approach to understanding the world is different, similar biological capacities and needs underlie our investigations.
Autofocus Research Seminars on Architecture∩Philosophy∩Neurosciences are designed to provide a cross-disciplinary forum for considering the universal cognitive and emotional foundations of our individual and cultural lives in biological and social environments. Our first international academic event - From Darwin to Dissanayake - will consider the nature of the arts particularly as they relate to the built environment and architectural theories. To this end, our special guests are authors Ellen Dissanayake and Harry Francis Mallgrave (whose chapter title in a recent book gave us the name for our seminar).
Ellen Dissanayake’s unique writings use an ethological, Darwinian approach that considers art as something that people do ('make special' or 'artify') rather than as the standard focus on 'works of art'. Her cross-disciplinary studies include paleoarchaeology, developmental psychology, neurosciences, anthropology, and aesthetic philosophy, all of which are relevant to answering questions such as 'What is art?' and 'Why does art exist in every human society, past and present?' Harry Francis Mallgrave’s presentation will link the history of architectural history to the architect’s brain, introducing an embodied neural domain for design theory as embodiment and architecture.
The speakers will invite discussion on philosophical issues that underpin relations usually subsumed as 'practice vs. theory' - that is a recasting of design theory from 'the objects as subject' to 'the agent as subject', as Mallgrave puts it.