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Our Brains Can't Tell Real Art From Fakes

When we view art, a complex series of activities go on in the brain, which help us to appreciate it. The aesthetic experience integrates sensory and emotional reactions in a manner linked with their personal relevance. BUT viewing art which we're told is "fake" DOES NOT stimulate the same type of brain reactions.

When fourteen participants were placed in a brain scanner and shown images of works by "Rembrandt"--some genuine, others convincing imitations painted by different artists--neither the participants nor their brain signals could distinguish between genuine and fake paintings. There was no evidence that the brain signals of the participants could reliably pick apart the true Rembrandts from the copies or fakes. However, when they were TOLD about an artwork's authenticity--whether the information was true or not--their brain responses changed.

Art historian Martin Kemp says, "Our findings support what art historians, critics and the general public have long believed--that it is always better to think we are seeing the genuine article. Our study shows that the way we view art is not rational, that even when we cannot distinguish between two works, the knowledge that one was painted by a renowned artist makes us respond to it very differently. The fact that people travel to galleries around the world to see an original painting suggests that this conclusion is reasonable."

Meanwhile, when people encounter aliens (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this provocative interview), they don't just talk about it, they DRAW PICTURES of them, and in the In the April 30th edition of the Daily Mail, Eddie Wrenn reveals some of these drawings.

It takes a real writer to "draw you a picture" of what being with the Visitors is truly like.



Interesting, but I wonder what's really at work here. Obviously, you can wander into any gallery and find "unknown" art that blows you away. So you don't HAVE to see a "renowned" artist to get that feeling. This seems to relate to some idea of celebrity or value. Also, I note that is says "convincing imitations" - so they must have been pretty good themselves. I'm a visual artist, so this stuff fascinates me.

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