The Adventure of Science


Robin Hungerford

 

In his essay Viruses of the Mind [1] the evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, formulates a theory of ‘Informational Epidemiology’. This theory postulates that religious belief can be understood as a parasitic virus of thought which is spread through language. Dawkins uses the term ‘religious meme’ to describe this process in what is part of the larger materialist project to prove that humans can know the entirety of themselves and the world through the application of a reductive scientific method.

If there is a central idea in my video work The Adventure of Science it is one of doubting whether objective models derived from an application of the scientific method can sufficiently account for the inexplicable strangeness of our experience of being human. This is another echo of so many years of philosophical and theological discourse on this topic but yet it is also at the heart of the ongoing problem of our awareness of being alive.

In the video when Bertrand the scientist looks at things ‘up close’ they become clearer in an objective sense but, in a subjective sense, they also become stranger. For me this is the paradox of science and part of the inherent contradiction of our present condition.

According to Dawkins his own memes are not viruses but more akin to helpful computer programs. Here Dawkins sets up his own self-assured logic loop in which he puts forward a theory which fails to admit to itself the possibility of being another model of reality constructing the world in its own image. In The Adventure of Science I was attempting to explore the way in which our experience may be entirely fabricated from a variety of conflicting and competing memes; biased, narrative accounts which give form to our existence and point us towards future actions. These accounts of the world appear useful and rational when measured with their own apparatus but it might also be that they completely fail when it comes to articulating the meaning behind ‘all of this’

 

 


[1] Richard Dawkins, ‘Viruses of the Mind’, in Bo Dahlbom, ed., Dennett and his Critics: Demystifying Mind(Oxford: Blackwell, 1993)


Robin Hungerford is a Sydney based artist who works across the fields of video, sculpture and performance. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from...

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