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Visiting Artist: Gail Wight

January 31, 2012 By Bobby Bray

Visiting Artist: Gail Wight

As human beings going about our daily lives on this flying random rock, it can be worth while to take a couple hours out of the routine to listen in on the thoughts of a fellow stack of atoms that has decided to professionally question reality, history, science, and existence. Which brings me to the Visiting Artist Lecture Series which takes place in that shining bubble atop the hill-city know as La Jolla. I am of course referring to UCSD, not Michael Jackson’s evolutionary friend Bubbles the monkey.

The Visiting Artist Lecture Series is a free continuing event, which is open to the public. This Thursday February 2nd between 7pm and 9pm, conceptual artist Gail Wight will be in the spotlight at the Calit2 Auditorium, in Atkinson Hall on UCSD’s campus.

Through the veil of art, Wight has explored the strange scientifically explained history of our species, including the mind-altering pharmaceutical drug research that is still in its Frankenstein stages. For example, in her piece Spike, a live rat runs through a maze of miniature artifacts reflecting the history of the scientific realization that we humans are electro-chemical entities. In the explanation on her website it states, “Electrochemistry becomes the theme that binds together our histories of war, drug abuse, healing, social priorities, creativity, inquisitiveness, and horror.”

In another piece called Cerebral Sonata, she takes information from the first encephalograms, which are x-rays of the human mind, along with EEGs, which are electrical records of brain activity, and converts them both into synthesizer sounds.

Wight is a professor at Stanford, has worked on projects involving MIT, and has been featured in over a dozen books including Art Science Now, and Art in the Age of Technoscience.┬áIn her own words on her website she describes her work by saying “The obsession to make art is a neurological disease. In attempts to understand thinking, I have:made maps of various nervous systems, practiced art while under hypnosis, designed an artificial intelligence to read my tarot, read for hours to fish, conducted biochemical experiments on myself and others, executed medical illustrations in black velvet, worked on

cognitive research projects, documented dissections of humans, dissected machines and failed to put most of them back together, freely made up vocabulary as needed, removed my teeth to model information systems, self-induced phobias concerning consciousness in the plant kingdom, donated my body to science and then requested it be returned, observed nerve development in vivo, choreographed synaptic responses, translated EEGs into music, conducted a cartesian exorcism on myself, and attempted to create cognitive models of my own confused state.”