Pleasure, Arousal, Dominance


The inaugural event of this new season at Rosa Brux is the exhibition Pleasure, Arousal, Dominance. Using several photo installations, the show presents the artist Dorothée Baumann’s in-depth look at the founding and development of a fundamental research center in the cognitive neurosciences, the Brain & Behaviour Laboratory (BBL), located in Switzerland.

Focusing on the study of human behavior, the lab centers its activities notably on the way photographic images are interpreted by the human brain through its affective faculties, namely fear, pleasure, or domination. When a photograph depicts an individual walking along with the decapitated head of a deer in hand, do we feel terror, joy, or a sense of grandeur? Studying the origin of these affects and their recurrences is seen as a rational technique for establishing a field of knowledge, a way of reducing the individual to a measurable substance and thus envisioning mastering and reproducing these stimuli in other areas, in public relations or entertainment, for instance.

Through the experiments carried out in this lab, Baumann questions the political issues present in the research being done in the cognitive sciences, along with the role played by photography and photographic resources used as a concrete means of knowledge. While the classic relationship of the document vis-à-vis reality generally has to be measured, like science, in light of objective criteria, Baumann has fashioned an approach that derives from a documentary principle in the broad sense of the term in order to venture down the paths of fiction and transference.