Art & The Conscious Mind: The Presentation.

mona lisa painting

Leonardo da Vinci’s 1503 Mona Lisa.

Leonardo paints his image without outlining the figure, so we are unaware where the figure starts or finishes, it can be seen in certain places that is possible that it merges into the background. Without an outline, the figure does not appear a solid entity. Therefore, are we solid or are our edges blurred?

This correlates to William James’  conscious stream theory, he describes consciousness as a continuous stream, suggesting we experience every conscious state (awake, asleep, catatonic, coma, etc).

As a practising artist, I incorporated the conscious and unconscious theory within my work to make people think.

phebe hemphill coin
Phebe Hemphills 2011 Tuskegee Airmen Medal.

As a practising artist, my work at the moment involves designing medals. To consider how to incorporate the conscious theory into my work made me sit back and think. Looking at this image, the figures, unlike the image of the Mona Lisa, having blurred edges, the three profiles are defined edges in the design of the coin.

I questioned whether or not consciousness existed, or not, when reflecting on Susan Blackmore’s theory of consciousness being an illusion.

The design of my coin was based on this theory, which includes a very simple idea that has ‘conscious’ one side and ‘unconscious’ on the faces of the coin. By flipping the coin, the words on both sides vanish.

coin 4
The theory based on the illusion of the conscious mind.


Art & The Conscious Mind: Overview of the Outcome.

The coin was designed in Rhino CAD modelling software, and was 3D printed. From the 3D print, I created a silicon mould.

The silicon mould allowed me to cast in a variety of materials. The mould was not as good as I had hoped for, because it did not produce very good results with the ‘unconscious’ side when casting in different materiality.

I developed a large quantity of coins casted from pewter. They were first tidied up with the axe saw, then they were filed so their round edges were smooth to touch and polished with sanding paper first. Afterwards, I decided to use my dremmel on the coins to give finishing touches.

Another outcome was wax – this material experimentation gave interesting results, ranging from half casted coins to full casted coins – and with the wax, it even managed to pick up the ‘unconscious’ lettering more than it did in pewter.

Although the outcome is a prototype in Pewter, I plan to take it further outside of my Field deadline. I aim to create a CNC mould, which will provide a cleaner mould for better casting results. I am also curious to try experimenting with other materiality, such as plaster, clay, resin, aluminium and potentially bronze. I also want to create for my end of year exhibition, a stand for the coin which will allow viewers to interact with it. This outcome is still in development, but I have enjoyed my time in this Field module and applying the theory of consciousness to my artist practice.

An Evaluation of Field: Year 2 Module.

Evaluation of Field:

Year 2’s Field module incorporated two five-week project briefs, to include:

Term 1: Disobedient Objects:


  • Explore and evidence experimentation of skill-sets beyond their subject specific domain
  • Demonstrate and evaluate their individual study and research direction within their reflective writing
  • Evaluate the impact that independent research has on their learning and how this has generated contextual ideas.
  • Consolidate the appropriate professional skills, responsibilities and practices related to their own discipline
  • Demonstrate the links between the formation of ideas and their realisation in a body of work

To incorporate the skills, context and ideas as required by this module, I decided to investigate materials related to light objects and narratives. Obviously, I had to achieve to create an object that was disobedient in its outcome in some way. After my research into lighting, Vikings, food art, and BSI (British Safety Institution), because I wanted to include a material in my design that was unsafe by BSI standards, as it could be a possible fire hazard. And also, visually, the material I decided to incorporate within my design, would totally collapse within time and is therefore completely unsuitable for a child’s night-light design.

I decided to create a Viking night-light for a child’s bedroom. The ship’s design referred to the myth of sailing into one’s dreams. The sail, which was the focus of the light effect, was created from jelly based confectionery. This was melted down and sculpted into a single mast, to create the sail. This obviously in time, was part of the disobedient object that was to degrade down to a gooey mass and totally unsuitable as a BSI approved night-light. Within this model, I was given instructions on how to connect neopixels to adapt into my design. But I was unable to finish the programming of the neopixels with the arduino, because I had connectivity issues when soldering.

To give an overview on the outcome of this module, it has taught me to manage my time better to give extra consideration of time for a process that could possibly fail or is time consuming. Overall, I am not going on this direction within my own art practice, but I have transferred skill-sets such as Illustrator and laser cutter, from this module into my subject module.

Term 1: Art & The Conscious Mind:


  • Explore and evidence experimentation of skill-sets beyond their subject specific domain
  • Demonstrate and evaluate their individual study and research direction within their reflective writing
  • Evaluate the impact that independent research has on their learning and how this has generated contextual ideas.
  • Consolidate the appropriate professional skills, responsibilities and practices related to their own discipline
  • Demonstrate the links between the formation of ideas and their realisation in a body of work

Before this Field module, I really did not give much thought into the subject matter of the conscious mind. In my ‘awake’ time, I accepted that I was conscious, and during my ‘sleep’ time, I accepted I was unconscious. I had a very basic understanding of this field, and I did not find it necessary to challenge the actual concept of the conscious mind. Now during this module, I have come to consider the theories that were delivered in each session, and I have not yet reached a final conclusion on whether I believe the conscious mind exists or does not exist.

I feel this module has given me a new perspective to consider when I am creating my own artefacts. I would not have conceived to be theoretical about my own practice before this module, but hopefully I will continue to read further on this subject as I did find it of great interest to actually look at myself on a more holistic level. As the conscious mind is not matter and the best way to give it consideration would be through meditative purposes, the whole idea of experiencing meditation class on a very simple level was possibly an interesting pathway into the subject. Although I have meditated on a minor level in my own time, I did not consider this a pathway to the conscious mind. So therefore, it was the whole interconnection of the information and the practice that knitted the subject together. This module was very thought-provoking, at times very heavy, as obviously the theorists proved that I had to have a great interest in the subject matter to continue to learn about the subject matter.

Art & The Conscious Mind: Visual Stimuli Workshop by Craig Thomas.

As Field is coming to a close (with the deadline next Tuesday), it was the last workshop of the module today. I was looking forward to this particular workshop, because Craig Thomas was running it and it sounded interesting. It was held in the AV studio – the point of the exercise was to expose us to visual stimuli, which Craig Thomas had made specifically for this ‘experiment’ within the workshop. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate for very long, due to visual and sensory problems. I found the visual stimuli overwhelming; it made me feel uneasy, sick, dizzy, and when people were walking through the piece of work, that is when I had to redraw myself from the activity. Everyone’s body shapes warped and distorted, and it felt like I could not breathe.

Art & The Conscious Mind: Material Experimentation.

Casting in Wax:

After developing my mould, I was able to begin experimenting with different materiality. My first experimentation was with wax (an already familiar process); the results were not exactly what I had hoped for, but nevertheless, it is still an amazing experience to see my artefact(s) come to life with each different materiality I choose to undertake. I chose wax first because, I wanted to see what the difference each outcome had, in terms of weight, texture and touch.

There is virtually no weight to the wax coins, which was interesting as it felt like you were holding nothing. I am aiming to try achieve an outcome with my coin design that has some weight to it when held in the hand – exactly like that of a £1 coin.

Another issue I found when casting in wax was that, due to the support structure for the ‘unconscious’ side when 3D printing, the text isn’t printable nor legible. This is demonstrated in my outcomes. At first too, the wax would not make it all the way down to the artefact’s shape in the mould. This was due to the small pour hole, and after every cast, I removed more and more away until I got a full coin result.

Casting in Pewter:

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Casting in pewter resulted in a nice, weighty outcome. There was some similar issues to that of casting in wax at first; the ‘unconscious’ text did not pick up. I did wonder at first if this was due to the wax or materiality I chose to cast in, but given that the second material experimentation proved the same issues in results, I feel I may have to change the typeface and see if a different, bulkier font may work more efficiently.

Despite the issues with the typeface that I decided to use, the weight of pewter is nice to hold and I was pleased with the material outcome when casting in pewter. At first, I tidied up the excess pewter by sawing off the excess. This did not take up much time at all. Afterwards, I filed the round edges of the coins with my filing tools to eradicate the sharp edges from when I removed excess material. Once this was done, I got 150 grade sandpaper to polish the round edges and both faces of the coins. This proved a nice result.

Art & The Conscious Mind: The Unity and Rationality of the Conscious Mind.

Art & The Conscious Mind.
Seminar: Professor Robert Pepperell. 01/02/18.

The Unity and Rationality of the Conscious Mind.

Assessment: 2 minute presentation, blog URL, making connections to your practice.

We are still thinking about art and the conscious mind, but unity and rationality

Lichtenstein Rouen Cathedral

Monet original painting, but Lichtenstein applied a technique to it. Cheap, crude process. High value images vs low value images.

Is your experience whilst seeing this painting (unified, holistic etc), or are you having many experiences?

You may see the cathedral and dots at the same time. You may not necessarily be able to focus on one part or whole of the painting.

Is your experience of seeing the painting rational?

Do you see the cathedral or dots? Or do you see the dots and the cathedral? There is a slight irrational experience of this painting.

Do you have one mind or many?

This question of a single thing or of many.

The unity of the conscious mind

Descartes 1912,  founder of western philosophy.

Manual Kant, 1900 “the unity of this apperception I call the transcendental unity of self-consciousness, in order to indicate the possibility of a Priori cognition arising from It.”

Monolithic coherence. von der Malsburg, 1997.

The binding problem…
When I see a red chair, the experience of ‘red’ is happening in a different part of my brain, and the chair is happening at another at different times. There is no current explanation to interconnect this phenomena.

Blayne and Chalmers, 2003.

Barry Dainton, 2003.

Corpus callosum. Surgeons cut a connection in the brain that stops epileptic seizures but caused side effects: two distinct personalities living with them. Two minds happening in the same head, at the same time. It is still practiced in today’s modern society.

Michael Gazzaniga.

This is evidence to suggest that the brain can hold more than a single mind and will cope.

O’Brien and Opie, 1998. They are saying thoughts going on at multiple times, your shopping or sound you heard over there etc.

Zeki, 2001. Essentially saying glue holds everything together.

The rationality of the conscious mind:

Lack of consciousness can be defence in law. This question of rationality is so important, especially in medical and law.

Are we rational? You can save £10 on £50 bill if you drive to a petrol station on the other side of town. You can save £10 on the price of £5000 pic if you drive the same distance, law of expected utility. Kahneman and Tversky 1979. We don’t often act in the way we should; we often make choices that are bad for us.

World health organisation states 1.5 million people die in a year when they fly. 50 million people are injured in a car crash per year.

If you flick a coin, in a continuous loop, then you will consider tails is next.

Example of irrational perception.

Cognitive dissonance – when people hold conflicting beliefs they can’t reconcile, they’ll be forced to believe something even if they know it’s not true. Leon Festinger 1956

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT). Aims to reconcile conflicting mental states.

Anatidaephobia – fear that a duck, somewhere, somehow, is watching you. (Irrational fear).

The nature of unity and rationality

Our concept of unit and rationality is flawed.

1. the state or quality of being one; oneness
2. The act, state, or quality of


Unity 1: possibly the universe right at the start of the Big Bang. Maybe at that moment there was just one thing. Everything in our life has more than one thing.

Unity 2: after the Big Bang, the Stars formed, the universe is one thing but contains trillions of things; planets, people etc. However the universe is one thing, it is everything.

Man Utd example.

USA example.

United Nations examples

Unity really is a multiplicity.

Most definitions of consciousness is unity 2.

Ambiguity of unity example.

Individual disc, no unity in single disc because they are pair of four and each disc made of more than one layer.


Is it rational to even question the rationality of the conscious mind?

Metaphysics IV, 3. Aristotle

Scientists, philosophers etc take it as fact that we cannot be more than one thing at a time.

Byers, 2007.

Sample of white circle.

Immediately this image challenges Aristotle’s law. To have a white circle, you can’t have a white circle to begin with.

Mookerjee, 1978.

Jainaism has seven states of consideration.

Monks and elephant example.

All of us receive / perceive a percentage of the world (the real world) but they are different.

Example of paradox:
1. all natural phenomena are rational.
2. Irrational thoughts are natural phenomena

The statement is false, but the statement is true so is therefore false. Do you see the problem?

Which point is higher from the ground example.

Our experience is full of these concepts. Our rationality is not as solid as we believe, and unity is a very ambiguous concept. If disunity and irrationality

The manifold and

Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral: setting sun, 1892-94, oil on canvas, 10 x 65 cm

the painting is incredibly textural. Monet mixed all sorts into the paint to give it texture – something you do not see in mass production.

I see many things in one painting; sky, circle, mud, hair, sand, frame etc.

I see wholes and parts; you can think of the doorway, so there are wholes and parts. I see things that look the same, and I see differences. I see a painting and cathedral. Is it a painting or cathedral? It’s a projection of a photograph, of a cathedral.

Monet has made the painting so visible, he makes you aware of everything, the paint, the hairs, the smells, feel the paint and texture vividly. Paint is both not paint but is paint. It could also be architecture stone.

I see something separate and something from me but is part of me..

I see flatness and depth.

Contradiction and paradox in paintings

Gombrich 1960.

Is it possible to see both the plane surface and the horse at the same time?

Examples of involuntary visual perception

Richard Wollheim

Julian Bell