METACOGNITION IN GLASS
Kiln formed glass with ceramic transfers
Artist: Cathryn Shilling, Scientist: Steve Fleming
Metacognition is the capacity to become self-aware of our thoughts and feelings. We can study metacognition by asking people to make simple judgments about what they perceive and remember, and then asking them how confident they are that they got the answer right. People vary in their metacognitive ability – some people are good at knowing whether they were right or wrong, whereas others have less insight into their performance.
In Metacognition in Glass we walk the viewer through how it feels to participate in a metacognition experiment – from studying the material, to recalling a particular word, to reflecting on how confident we feel in our answer. The images are visualisations of data collected using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), highlighting patterns of brain activity that change in a consistent way when people self-reflect. Embedding the experimental materials in glass embodies the notion that the brain’s machinery for self-reflection provides us with a distant, sometimes opaque view of ourselves.
The Development Process
The artwork was inspired by the testing process used by Dr Steve Fleming and his team within an fMRI scanner. Cathryn explored this process through dicsussion with Steve and developed the glass artworks.
Steve leads the Metacognition Group whose research focuses on the mechanisms supporting conscious awareness and metacognition in the adult human brain.
Cathryn is an internationally renowned glass artist. For her, kiln formed glass has proved to be the perfect medium, allowing for creative and technical freedom and enabling her to produce works that are tactile, intriguing and enduring.