Thursday 19 October 2017

Science and Art Intertwine

As a psychologist I am fascinated by social influences on people’s behaviour. My work with Swedish researchers has led me to ask questions about the content of stories that we pass on across generations. Essentially, we are interested in the idea of cultural evolution. Why do we pass on some information whilst forgetting other aspects of a story?

I have also been looking at how we can model cumulative cultural evolution with the transmission of spaghetti- tower building skills. In 2009, a meeting with artist Rachel Cohen made me realise that it is not just cultural evolutionary theorists who are interested in the transmission of information, some artists share the same fascination. Rachel Cohen has been working on ideas linked to drawing and Chinese Whispers.

The idea for the Myths, Morphs and Memes events emerged in the summer of 2010. The first event took place on 4th August at a public house in Brighton, UK. I wanted to move outside the psychology laboratories to collect data and I also wanted to create a social event where people could choose to take part in experiments. Rachel already had some experience in this sort of data collection. At this point my colleague from the University of Sussex ChatLab Dr. Nicola Yuill joined us with her game of consequences on iPads. In 2011, artist,  Patricia Thornton joined us with her map morphing and communication activities. 

Myths, Morphs and Memes Events
Our events have taken place in function rooms at public houses, art galleries, public libraries, at ConsciousnessExpo 2012 and at the Brighton Science Festival 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Myths, Morphs and Memes at Brighton Science Festival!

Myths, Morphs and Memes presented ‘Groupmind’ where visitors to the Brighton Science Festival were invited to contribute to collaborative, cumulative, cultural communication experiments. 

We are interested in how ideas and information, in the shape of stories, drawings, and constructions are transmitted through minds across generations. We invited people to enter into a communicative activity which had consequences – they may influence the behaviour of others! 

Natural selection of drawings
Psychologist, Dr. Julie Coultas engaged people in the cultural transmission of structures through building spaghetti towers! What information do we pass on? What information gets forgotten? How does cumulative cultural evolution work? 
Tower building at Jubilee Library

Artist, Rachel Cohen used drawings to demonstrate mimetic evolution in action. Is it possible to reproduce a drawing from instructions, like a recipe? 

Collaborative iPad game of picture consequences
Psychologists, Dr. Nicola Yuill and Stefan Kreitmayer invited people to experiment with ‘Live Sentences’ where people in different locations co-create sentences live, and tweet them to Live Sentence. Will these co-productions oscillate and reach some coherent sequence of sentences, or will it all be random?

Artists, Patricia Thornton and Angela Rogers encouraged people to communicate by taking part in a collaborative Drawing Dialogue game.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Myths, Morphs and Memes at Consciousness Expo!

Myths, Morphs and Memes was at Consciousness Expo at the Corn Exchange, Brighton, UK on 30th June 2012. People had another opportunity to take part in our exciting and intriguing experiments. We asked questions about how information, ideas and images are transmitted from person to person. What information is lost (decays)? What information survives to influence future generation's behaviour? This is all part of our fascination in cultural evolution. Many people came along to the Consciousness Expo found out more.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Science and Art Intertwine - The Myths, Morphs and Memes events offer people opportunities to take part in a host of interesting and intriguing activities.

In 2012 we engaged children (8 years plus) in storytelling and art activities at Brighton Library on 15th February 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Our focus was on the Norse Creation legend.

We were also at the Brighton Science Festival Big Science Saturday 25th March at University of Brighton 10 am to 6pm where we offered adults the chance to take part in cultural transmission experiments.

We will be running more events at venues across Brighton in the next few months.
Myths - As a psychologist I want to explore the social influences on people’s behaviour. Recently my work with Swedish researchers on cultural evolution has led to questions about the content of stories that we pass on across generations. Why are some elements of a story passed on while others are forgotten?
Morphs - It is not just scientists who are interested in the transmission of information. Artist Rachel Cohen explores questions about natural selection and evolution in her Chinese whispers drawing project. What is it we choose to copy and what do we discard?
Artist Pat Thornton is interested in how people map and track – how do we represent our location and movement on paper?
Memes - Our Myths, Morphs and Memes events last year were fun social occasions; in addition to the storytelling and drawing experiments we offered people the opportunity to play games on iPads, explore games with hidden rules, write their own urban myth, and play a game of ‘social solitaire’. At previous events my colleague, Dr. Nicola Yuill, from the University of Sussex ChaTLab joined us with her game of consequences on iPads.
Previous Events
We ran three Myths Morphs and Memes events at Circus Circus, Brighton in 2010. These were well attended, fun events. In 2011 we ran some events at the Pub with No Name, top of Southover Street, Brighton UK. Both artists and scientists attended these events. On 5th March 2011, we ran some highly successful activities including (1) the culural transmission of stories (2) the natural selection of drawings and (3) the graphic perceptions of location and movement, for the Brighton Science Festival’s Big Science Saturday.
15th February 2.30pm to 4.30pm - Myths, Morphs and Memes at Brighton Library as part of the Brighton Science Festival (children 8 years plus)
25th February 10am to 6pm - Myths, Morphs and Memes at Brighton Science Festival's Big Science Saturday at the University of Brighton