Biology of Images: Empathy, Collective Memory & Neurophysiology

This talk will analise works of two major art historians: Edgar Wind and Aby Warburg. In particular, we will dive into Wind’s interpretation of Warburg’s central ideas of the biology of images. We will talk about the universality of the expression of emotions and movements, the concept of empathy, the phenomenon of collective memory, and the engram and offer a fresh perspective on these views in light of recent research on neurophysiology and experimental aesthetics. During this talk we will compare and contrast Warburg’s and Wind’s insights on the biological implications of images for both the artist and the viewer and discuss how both approaches became the foundation for a theory of aesthetic response.

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Fabio Tononi is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for the Humanities (CHAM) in the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (FCHS), NOVA University of Lisbon. He is the editor-in chief of The Edgar Wind Journal and a steering committee member of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, which is part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. His research interests include the essence and tasks of philosophy and science, the writings of Aby Warburg and Edgar Wind, the aesthetics of Sigmund Freud, the relationship between art and cognitive neuroscience (specifically as they relate to memory, imagination, empathy, the unfinished, motion, and emotion), the
interconnection between art and ideology, and postmodernism. For more information about Fabio Tononi’s work – please, click here.

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