Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS)

NOMIS Research Project

The Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project is an innovative interdisciplinary research program that merges perspectives from cognitive neurosciences and psychology with those from the humanities and arts to study the performative power of images. It attempts to do so at the Warburg Institute, the premier institute in the world for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture, inspired by Aby Warburg’s unparalleled interdisciplinary vision on the history of images.

Warburg’s intellectual aim was to trace the transmission of thought through images, and the ways in which these were embodied in pictorial expression. Throughout his work, he insisted on the study of the body and its biological expressive power to shed light on art and culture. The questions he asked in the context of art history and the answers he proposed remain relevant today, for understanding the culture that we live in, as well as for the present and future of the relations between the humanities and sciences insofar they share the common goal of understanding the human condition and culture. It is at this intersection between the “highways of culture and the pathways of the mind” that the BIAS project places itself: How do we relate to and respond to each other in a culture powered by images? To answer this question, BIAS bridges scientific insights on the underlying physiological, neural and cognitive mechanisms with a scholarly understanding of the cultural, historical and political context within which such mechanisms are deployed.