Re-Program My Mind: The Emotions (after Charles Darwin)


  • Debra Swack


Rapid changes in science, technology and new media art will lead to more sophisticated ideas about what it means to be human. This may reposition/refine our relationships with machines and animals with the human functioning symbiotically as a modifiable database-like structure that can be accessed perhaps unknowingly by others, globally over the internet. Genetically emotionally or otherwise enhanced individuals could become the fashionable norm; synthetic biology could replace plastic surgery, with the further complication of not knowing where those genetic modifications will take them as individuals or us as a species. This paper documents the development of the new media art project The Emotions (after Charles Darwin) whose collaborators include the Brain Mind Institute (autism research), Joseph LeDoux (a neuroscientist researching survival circuits associated with emotions) [1] and Roddy Cowie (a psychologist researching audiovisual representation and emotions, to be explored separately). The Emotions first tries to establish the existence of the universality of emotion perception and classification as empirically documented by the Brain Mind Institute. Secondly, it tries to establish the universal biological basis of emotion as evidenced by Joseph LeDoux’s work. Thirdly, it suggests the potential for subsequent futuristic manipulation and possible misuse through synthetic biology alone or combined with other technologies.

  1. Joseph LeDoux, “Rethinking the Emotional Brain,” Neuron 73 (2012): 653-675.