"EmBodied" is SciArt Center's latest virtual exhibition. Exploring what the body can reveal about the inner self, curator Marnie Benney spoke with participating artist Amanda Agricola:
MB: How have science and technology better informed us in our understanding of who and what we are?
AA: I am interested in neuroscience which has made some discoveries as to how perception and thought actually take form. These discoveries have told us a lot about consciousness and the body that we did not already know, and it has also reaffirmed some things learned thousands of years ago. I find it interesting to contemplate early civilizations who lived without the kind of MRI technology we have today, sitting in meditation, observing the conditions of the body by turning their awareness inside. We posses innate sensing capabilities that could possibly be lost as technology advances. At the same time we are driven by constant desire to learn and explore, and we crave proof of everything.
The fact that fMRIs can show us what happens in the brain when your exhale is extended twice as long as your inhale (for example) reinforces what those beings long ago discovered purely by observation. Understanding who we are means not just looking at what we are able to know now because of technological advancements, but also seeing where we have come from — establishing a link between past and present and understanding the body through observation, direct experience, and scientific or technological monitoring. Deep breathing, by the way, releases “feel-good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin and it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.