Collective Pattern
Media of art is human body. Place of art is human mind.
The conducted experiments explore the language of performance through the reduction of interaction within the system of "personality – society – culture".
In the context of the Social Anatomy experiment, local culture plays the role of the medium through which a model is presented, encompassing a structured sequence of ceremonial movements aimed at depicting society. The structures of any society-culture consist of central valuable elements, alongside less central, peripheral areas. The internal elements of culture are marked by biologically significant concepts, such as birth and death. All cultures possess their own set of rituals, such as ceremonies for birth, transitions into adulthood, marriage, and of course, funeral rituals. These elements are often cyclical, like birthday rituals or ancestor commemorations.
The fundamental component in this model relies on the public identification of an individual, established by classifications like gender, age, and origin[1]. Thus, it becomes possible to arrange all these elements sequentially within the studied society-culture.

Researcher Kurt Levin, who studied and proposed group dynamics theory[2], introduced the concept of quasi-needs[3] in his personality psychology theory based on "hodological space" topology[4].

Human quasi-needs are influenced by the environment surrounding them, encompassing objects in their vicinity. When these items carry a specific cultural symbolic significance, they trigger a quasi-need in individuals, stemming from the cultural context rather than individual desires.

In doing so, the person integrates into the culture, conforming to societal norms and partially losing their personal autonomy. Culture, as a structure, is not dependent on an individual personality, thus exhibiting emergent properties.
"Social Anatomy" is the documentation of an experiment that was part of the "It Is What It Is" project. The project investigates the structure of Azerbaijani culture and social behavior

Baku, 2016

Video courtesy of YARAT Contemporary Art Space
Cohesion is a foundational concept in K. Levin's theory of group dynamics. He defines cohesion as a "complete force field" that binds members within a group. The group's cohesion depends on its ability to meet people's needs for deep emotional connections, where various forms of communication beyond verbal, such as symbols and colors, play a vital role.

The influence of language and speech factors on the formation of our psyche and personality is the subject of research in the works of Noam Chomsky, who presents a theory suggesting that the psyche is based on the grammar of language[5]. This explains the similarity among different languages worldwide, both semantically and syntactically. All languages possess abstract concepts, such as spirit or energy, and share a similar grammatical foundation, including verbs and nouns.

Kazimir Malevich conducted research into the fundamental principles of natural and symbolic language in painting, leading him to create the artwork "Black Square"[6]. This piece can be compared to the discovery of "zero" in the history of mathematics and significantly influenced the emergence of new artistic forms. Marina Abramović, in her work "The Artist is Present", expressed the language of art through emptiness, the absence of symbols and materials, even excluding body movement as a form of art. In her work, only she as the artist and her viewer remain, looking into each other's eyes[7].

A person's identity is defined through their reflection in society, with art serving as a crucial medium for delving into the intricate relationship between individuals and their societal context. Artists interact and engage in a direct dialogue with society using new languages – creating a meta-language of the collective unconscious.

In everyday life, we engage with different people within specific conditions where space, words, behavior, symbols, premises, objects and rituals compose our language of communication. We are accustomed to communicating with others but only within culturally established boundaries. In such natural conditions, it's challenging to analyze the fundamental relationship between humans and society, without considering the cultural noise.

The practical works in the field of psychology by Bert Hellinger highlight the importance of the connection between an individual's personality and the group, in which the group reflects the individual's personality[8].

Every individual possesses traits within themselves that resemble various real-life characters, shaping our psyche as a collection of numerous personalities we've encountered or possibly not encountered. This phenomenon is attributed to the systematic structure of our society, where personalities systematically mirror one another. Our psyche has the capacity to retain hundreds of such personas, surfacing them in diverse situations or particular life stages. This method stimulates our psyche, temporarily allowing these personas to substitute for our own. This enables us to temporarily embody any personality, even that of a stranger, aiding individuals in surfacing and analyzing conflicting relationships.
"Spectator of spectator" | Non-public experiment

Baku, 2021

Video courtesy of Faig Ahmed Studio
Art within a laboratory setting: This experiment orchestrates art-lab conditions where the society-audience itself becomes the artistic material. Within this audience, a controlled environment akin to sterile laboratory conditions is established.

The language of art in such research is simple observation and reflection, representing the most simplified form of connections and thus, the most essential. This approach purifies the material from cultural elements, reducing them to their bare minimum.

Under such conditions, the audience observes a group of people who observe and reflect the personality of one particular audience member. This group, in essence, becomes an audience for the individual. To perform such reflection, one must embody a heightened observational role, become a super-audience.
"Collective Pattern" | Art data collection process

2021 – ongoing
Video courtesy of Faig Ahmed Studio
Contemporary art is a multimedia descriptive language. The human being is both the starting point and the ultimate goal of art. Measuring brain activity and other biological aspects of the body under the direct influence of art represents the most objective form of collecting data about art.

Art as a whole, as an object of historical and academic research, is often built upon individual opinions. Such research has been conducted by scholars like Samir Zeki, Ellen Dissanayake, and Rudolf Arnheim. Additionally, discussions on this topic have been addressed in the works of philosophers like Susanne Langer and Mikhail Bakhtin.

Research on art using EEG has been conducted in several reputable scientific institutions. One such example of publication was made in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience by a team of researchers from Breda University of Applied Sciences and Tilburg University in the Netherlands, along with the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt[9].

Nevertheless, these studies haven't produced unequivocal results as the experiments aimed to answer the question, 'how does art influence the brain?' There is insufficient data available to investigate the intricate phenomenon of art, and there is also a lack of groundwork to explore profound correlations even with existing data. While our brain is considered the most intricate object in the universe, art is even more complex due to its emergent qualities concerning the brain, which is the creator of art.
In my research, I pose the question differently: 'What is art?' With this approach, an individual becomes the detector of this specific cultural phenomenon. Another significant question emerges: What is new art?

Additionally, cataloging observed artworks in multiple forms (chronology, style, author, etc.) is undertaken. Each viewer is also given a psychological questionnaire both before and after the experiment. Subsequently, individual data is correlated with the processing of artworks. As a result of this experiment, based on the data collected from hundreds of individuals from various cultures worldwide who have viewed thousands of paintings, a work of art will be created. This artwork will undergo the entire experimental process several times until a universal piece of art is created that has the most consistent impact on everyone.

This leads to a research methodology where various types of biological data on the viewer's activity are recorded. The analysis unfolds across multiple stages, utilizing medical equipment like EEG, ECG, EMG, Eye Tracking technologies, and data analytics employing neural networks. Moreover, there is a process of cataloging observed artworks in various forms such as chronology, style, authorship, etc. Each viewer undergoes a psychological questionnaire both before and after the experiment. Subsequently, individual data is correlated with the processing of artworks. Through this experiment, based on data collected from hundreds of individuals across diverse cultures who have viewed thousands of paintings, an artwork will be produced. This artwork will undergo multiple iterations of the experimental process until a universal piece of art is created, one that consistently impacts the most people.

With a large number of individual reactions to different types of art, there is also the opportunity to seek and discover significant patterns in the interaction between humans and art. Based on these patterns, there emerges the possibility to investigate art as a distinct system rather than merely individual reactions.
"Collective Pattern" | Project launch at "Consciousness in Flux" exhibition opening

Sharjah, UAE, 17 February 1 August 2024
Image courtesy of Maraya Art Centre
"Collective Pattern" | Project presentation

Video courtesy of Maraya Art Centre

[1] ASL – Age Sex Location

[2] Kurt Lewin: Group dynamics Theory

[3] Quasi-needs

[4] Hodological space

[5] Noam Chomsky: Nature and Language

[6] Kazimir Malevich: The World as Objectlessness

[7] Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

[8] Bert Hellinger: The foundation of systemic phenomenological work

[9] On the Neuronal Dynamics of Aesthetic Experience: Evidence from Electroencephalographic Oscillatory Dynamics
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 34(3), 461–479