Friday, 25 March 2011

emotion. brain. art

I've been wanting to share a few things over here for a long time now, but lethargy (and well, laziness too, to an extent) got the better of me. I cleared up my desktop today, finally, and was scouring the internet for wallpapers of the movie Tangled when this expression of Rapunzel caught my attention. The expression intrigued me so much I was compelled to share it immediately. What intrigued me so much about it is that the expression conveys three emotions - fear, wonder and intent - with hardly any noticeable muscle or eyebrow movement, unlike most other expressions which usually show dramatic movements of the eyebrows and muscles. I don't know much about the Facial Action Coding System yet, but the intensity score for the action units that make up the expression is probably an A or a B. Maybe even a C. Think about it that way and the expression doesn't seem so intriguing after all. But I still am very intrigued. I'd like to believe that it takes a certain amount of expertise to get such an emotion on an animated face.

Tangled reminds me of a book I finished reading a week ago. What happens when neurons in our brain get tangled and crosswired? Lots of interesting disorders ranging from the familiar to the unbelievable. Some disorders make us think, wonder and question our own sense of being and our perception of the world around us. The brain is the most complicated and fascinating organ of the human body. One small damage to a tiny part of it and it can make you think your left arm is your brother's and not yours. Dr. V. S. Ramachandran explains it all splendidly in his book "Phantoms in the Brain". I've never found a non-fiction book so riveting before. Here's a very interesting lecture he delivered at UCSD on what is it in his brain that makes him like a certain kind of art. The video is an hour and half, but very engaging. But, I speak for myself. I've always been interested in all things brain ever since the day my biology teacher in school made me draw a picture of the brain as homework that had me wonder, this yucky thing is the reason I can think and feel and reason? Wow! If you feel the way I do, then go ahead and watch it. You won't be disappointed.

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