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Form in time: The perceptual discovery of artistic works

International colloquium within IRCAM's Agora Festival

6-8 June 2001, IRCAM, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Free admission within the limits of available seating
Métro stations: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet, Les Halles

Organized by Stephen McAdams (Ircam-CNRS, France)
and Roger Reynolds (University of California at San Diego, USA)

With the support of the CNRS, the Canadian Cultural Center
and the Réseau de Sciences Cognitives d'Ile-de-France

Presentations by Gérard Assayag, Benoît Bardy, Alain Berthoz, Emmanuel
Bigand, Susan Buirge, Antonio Damasio, Ralph Ellis, Stephen McAdams,
François Madurell, Roger Reynolds, Michael Snow, Charles Tijus, Lorraine Vaillancourt

The form of artistic works is often theoretically considered as an
abstract scheme. However, especially in the arts of time like music,
cinema or dance, form must be apprehended in the concrete temporal
dimension of its reception. How indeed do we perceive the unfolding of
an artistic form?

Presenting the perceptual discovery of artistic works in this way opens
up a multitude of related questions. Can we understand the buildingup in
memory of a form on the basis of reactions that arise from moment to
moment in the person that experiences the work? Can we describe the
effects of memory and the variations of the esthetic impact on their
experienced accumulation? What roles do our perceptual faculties and
cultural knowledge play in the expectancies that are engendered when
encountering the first elements of a work, then in the mental
preparation for what will follow? How do dynamic neurological processes
act upon the way we inhabit an evolving form for fleeting moments in succession?

The experience of temporal architectures in music, cinema, dance, and
even in painting and sculpture during the time of their exploration by
our gaze, lead us to confront complex phenomena such as associative and
hierarchical time, memory (recall, familiarity, associations of ideas
and motives), anticipation and the realization (or not) of what is
expected, the loss of orientation related to perceived perturbations of
sequentiality, the association and integration of elements separated in
time, among many others. In order to address these phenomena at the
intersection of science and the arts, this colloquium aims to present
the points of view of artists in the fields of music, film, and dance,
confronting them with the reflections of researchers from the cognitive
sciences, in particular from cognitive psychology, the neurosciences,
philosophy, computer science, and cognitive musicology. To make the
dynamic aspect of the temporal experience of art works concrete, the
colloquium will include, in addition to the individual presentations,
two artistic events (video and music) that will be played, debated by a
panel of experts, replayed, and then discussed with the audience.

The colloquium is also associated with the world premier of a musical
work, The Angel of Death, by Roger Reynolds, realized at Ircam with the
cooperation of the University of California at San Diego. The public
performance of The Angel of Death will be the subject of real-time
experiments that seek to understand how the public perceives dynamic
form. The experiments, conceived by Stephen McAdams and Emmanuel Bigand
and their collaborators, will be conducted at a special concert-workshop
featured within the framework of this colloquium on Wednesday afternoon,
June 6th, as well as within the Agora Festival Thursday evening June 7th.

Colloquium program
[Each talk includes 40 minutes of presentation and 20 minutes of
discussion with the public.]

Wednesday, June 6th, Grande Salle, Centre Pompidou

9h30-9h50 – Opening address and presentation of the colloquium

9h50-10h50 – Antonio Damasio, neurologist, Emotion, memory and
experience [in English with simultaneous translation]

10h50-12h40 – Susan Buirge, choreographer, and Benoît Bardy, cognitive
psychologist, Persistence, change, and choreographic construction [in
French with simultaneous translation]

14h30-18h00 – Concert-workshop
The Angel of Death by Roger Reynolds: concerto for piano, ensemble and
computer processed sounds
Ensemble Court-Circuit
Jean-Marie Cottet, piano
Pierre-André Valade, conductor
Workshop presentations by :
Roger Reynolds, composer [in English with simultaneous translation]
Stephen McAdams, cognitive psychologist [in French with simultaneous translation]
Emmanuel Bigand, cognitive psychologist [in French with simultaneous translation]

Thursday, June 7th, Grande Salle, Centre Pompidou

9h30-10h30 – Charles Tijus, cognitive psychologist, The spatialization
of time: The cognitive reconstruction of imaged time from Giovanni
Bellini to Marta Pérez [in French]

11h00-12h00 – Lorraine Vaillancourt, conductor [in dialogue with Roger
Reynolds and Stephen McAdams], Fuzzy time and superimposed time in
musical interpretation [in French]

12h00-13h00 – Gérard Assayag, computer scientist, Computer-aided
composition and temporal structures [in French]

14h30-15h30 – Alain Berthoz, neuroscientist, The brain as simulator of
action: Implications for the perception of dynamic forms [in French]

16h00-17h30 – Artistic event 1 (a musical work)
Discussion/debat with Emmanuel Bigand, Stephen McAdams (moderators),
Gérard Assayag, Alain Berthoz, Lorraine Vaillancourt [in French]

Friday, June 8th, Petite Salle, Centre Pompidou

10h00-11h00 – Ralph Ellis, philosopher, Art and the unfolding of
emotions [in English with simultaneous translation]

11h30-12h30 – François Madurell, musicologist, Form and the time of
collective improvisation [in French with simultaneous translation]

14h00-15h15 – Michael Snow, film maker/visual artist/musician, Form in
cinema, its construction and perception [in English with simultaneous translation]

15h45-17h15 – Artistic event 2 (a video work)
Discussion/debat with Roger Reynolds (moderator), Antonio Damasio, Ralph
Ellis, Michael Snow [in English with simultaneous translation]

17h15-18h00 – Closing debate [in French and English with simultaneous translation]

For more information, contact Ircam +33-1-4478-4816

Stephen McAdams
Equipe Perception et Cognition Musicales
Ircam-CNRS (UMR 9912)
1 place Igor-Stravinsky
F-75004 Paris, France
tel: +33.1.4478.4838, fax +33.1.4478.1540