Mind-expanding exhibition inspired by Stirling research

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Installation view, ‘The Extended Mind’, 2019. Image courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh

An art exhibition about the human mind – inspired by research involving the University of Stirling – has just opened at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh​.

'The Extended Mind’, which features 13 international artists, is the centrepiece of a public engagement project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This project is led by Stirling Anniversary Fellow, Dr Miranda Anderson, as part of an academic team including Stirling Professor of Philosophy Michael Wheeler and Prof Douglas Cairns and Dr Mark Sprevak from Edinburgh University, working alongside a curatorial team from Talbot Rice.

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Marjolijn Dijkman, ‘In Our Hands’, 2015. Projection with binaural sound. Installation view, ‘The Extended Mind’, 2019. Image courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh

Building on a prior research project on the History of Distributed Cognition, also funded by the AHRC, the exhibition and the underpinning research look at how our minds – our thoughts, reasoning, perception, imagination, intelligence, emotion and experience – are not only located in our brains. They explore how the mind extends across our bodies and the world, enabled by the tools, technologies, institutions, materials and techniques that we use to orientate our understanding of our place in the world.​

Professor Wheeler said: “The exhibition that we’ve helped to create together with our colleagues from the Talbot Rice Gallery brings together artworks that illustrate, explore and sometimes worry about the ways in which human thought is shaped by our bodies and by the technological and social environments in which we are intimately embedded.”


Dr Anderson added: “As the exhibition demonstrates, art itself can be an example of the extended mind, by enabling our critical and creative thinking to reach beyond the limits of our unaided reason and imagination.”

From robots that learn through embodied interactions, to sculptures that make us perceive familiar objects anew, to artworks that explore our unwitting collaboration in corporate interests and the ways in which digital technology is driving us towards a new collective sense of self, The Extended Mind invites you to participate in diverse experiences and journeys to other real and imagined places, demonstrating how art plays a vital role in scaffolding new forms of understanding.

The exhibition is open now and runs until 1 February 2020.

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