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.