On the Origin of Art

Mat Collishaw has created a new zoetrope for the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, for their exhibition ‘On the Origin of Art’. The exhibition explores the contentious notion that art has a biological origin:

‘Art has a basis in biology. It is possibly adaptive—just as your opposable thumb is adaptive, something that helped you survive and to procreate, and to pass your genes into future generations.’

MONA asked four “bio-cultural scientist philosophers” to guest curate the exhibition: Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Brian Boyd, and Mark Changizi. Mat was one of several artists who responded to the work of the four thinkers, the work he created especially for this exhibition, ‘The Centrifugal Soul’, takes as its subject the flamboyant mating rituals of several tropical birds. The majestic displays of the tropical birds can be accounted for by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the more beautiful the display, the more likely it is to attract a mate, and so pass on its genes. The work invites the audience to reflect on this zoological phenomenon, and to consider the possibility of it having an evolutionary relationship to art.

For more information, and to subscribe to updates on this show, please visit MONA’s website here.