Friday, October 5, 2012

Chuck Close

Each year the Society for Neuroscience host a special talk by an individual who is not a neuroscientist, but whose work has contributed to a greater understanding of neuroscience among the general public.  This year that person is the artist Chuck Close.

Anyone who is interested in art, aesthetics, perception,  and their relationship to the brain and mind should find something to appreciate in the life and work of Close.  

One of the things I find intriguing is that while his career was established through the remarkable style of his portraitures, Close has been diagnosed with prosopagnosia - or "face blindness". Individuals with prosopagnosia have difficulty identifying others solely by the appearance of the face and in extreme cases may not even recognize their own reflection in a mirror.  While such extreme cases often result from strokes that damage an area of the brain called the fusiform face area (FFA), neuroscientists now recognize that the majority of cases are more mild and are congenital. Close attributes his interest in portraiture to this disability - it emerged as a sort of coping mechanism.


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