Funny Hat: An interior monologue
video, 4:10, 2020
Jurjen Luykx, psychiatrist/neuroscientist, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Anna van Suchtelen, artist, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Brian Goeltzenleuchter, artist, San Diego, USA
In this short video narrative, the scientist and artists illustrate their take on the interplay between neurobiologically driven behavior and free will. The video is in ‘false’ slow motion: it takes them 4 minutes to visualize brain actions that take place in fractions of seconds. A person on a busy street corner notices another person wearing an odd hat. Person 1 – whose interior monologue we follow – makes eye contact with person 2, who approaches close enough for person 1 to smell him or her. Person 1 considers engaging further but ultimately decides to walk on.
Is free will an illusion? The action potential is where neuroscience meets both art and philosophy. The action potential relates to firing of neurons that drives human behavior. But where does free will come into play? Is it free will that guides neurobiological processes and thus ultimately results in ‘free behavior’. Or is it neurobiology acting by itself and preventing any form of free will to guide us through life?
Jurjen Luykx (psychiatrist/neuroscientist), Anna van Suchtelen (artist) and Brian Goeltzenleuchter (artist), the makers of the video Funny hat, believe that art, philosophy and neuroscience can cross-pollinate and deepen our understanding of human decision making. Funny hat is a project that aims to visualize a selected set of cognitive processes – ranging from judgment to planning and processing of external sensory input – in a way that brings the fields of neuroscience, philosophy and art together.