Context: Direct realism is a non-reductive, anti-representationalist theory of perception lying at the heart of mainstream analytic philosophy, where it is currently generating a lot of interest. For all that, it is widely held to be both controversial and anti-scientific. On the other hand, the sensorimotor theory of perception (which is a specific development of Gibsonian approaches to perception) initially generated a lot of interest within enactive philosophy of cognitive science, but has arguably not yet delivered on its initial promise. Problem: I aim to show that the sensorimotor theory and direct realism complement each other, and that the result is a philosophically radical, but fully scientifically realised, theory of perception. Method: The article uses (non-reductive) philosophical analysis and discussion. It also draws on empirical evidence from the relevant cognitive sciences. Results: Direct realism can be augmented by sensorimotor theory to become a scientifically tractable alternative to the mainstream, representationalist research programme within cognitive science. Implications: The article aims to further clarify the philosophical importance of the sensorimotor approach to perception. It also aims to show that the apparently radical claim that we perceive objects themselves is amenable to normal scientific study. Constructivist content: Objects are analysed as a kind of collaboration between the world and the perceiver. On this account, we can never perceive outside the categories of our own understanding, but we do perceive genuinely outside our own heads. Thus, the approach here is not exactly constructivism, though it shares many goals and results with constructivism.
Context: Current theories of art, particularly those developed from a neuroscientific perspective, fail to take adequate account of the role, methods or motivations of the artist. The problem is that the lack of the artist’s voice in interdisciplinary theoretical research undermines the basis of current theoretical models. Problem: How can artists purposefully engage with contemporary consciousness studies? The aim of the research was to develop new methodologies appropriate for cross-disciplinary research and to establish what value, if any, neuroaesthetic or phenomenological theories of art could hold for contemporary arts practice. Method: My approach to the topic was to explore the application of neuroaesthetic and phenomenological theory through practice-based research in contemporary art. Results: The paper maps out a proposed avenue of research, and some initial findings, rather than the results of an inquiry. Implications: This paper will be of interest to those who work in philosophy of art and visual perception and those who are exploring empirically-based research methodologies in philosophy. Insights will be beneficial to arts practitioners, philosophers and scientists researching aesthetic experience. Constructivist content: The paper explores Noë’s sensorimotor theory of perception and the extended temporal relation between visual elements of an artwork as its forms are created in consciousness.