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The "Visual Shock" of Francis Bacon: an essay in neuroesthetics.

Zeki, S; Ishizu, T; (2013) The "Visual Shock" of Francis Bacon: an essay in neuroesthetics. Front Hum Neurosci , 7 , Article 850. 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00850. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper we discuss the work of Francis Bacon in the context of his declared aim of giving a "visual shock."We explore what this means in terms of brain activity and what insights into the brain's visual perceptive system his work gives. We do so especially with reference to the representation of faces and bodies in the human visual brain. We discuss the evidence that shows that both these categories of stimuli have a very privileged status in visual perception, compared to the perception of other stimuli, including man-made artifacts such as houses, chairs, and cars. We show that viewing stimuli that depart significantly from a normal representation of faces and bodies entails a significant difference in the pattern of brain activation. We argue that Bacon succeeded in delivering his "visual shock" because he subverted the normal neural representation of faces and bodies, without at the same time subverting the representation of man-made artifacts.

Type: Article
Title: The "Visual Shock" of Francis Bacon: an essay in neuroesthetics.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00850
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00850
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 Zeki and Ishizu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. PMCID: PMC3857539
Keywords: Francis Bacon, body perception, face and body deformation, face perception, neuroesthetics
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1426489
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