Graduate Student Talk: Sarah Schwettmann

October 24, 2019
Event Types
Talk / Lecture
Public Program
An exhibition space is filled with visitors of all ages peering into glass cases with sculptures by Alicja Kwade contained within.

Guests gather for the opening reception of Alicja Kwade: In Between Glances in October, 2019 at the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Photo by Cassandra Rodriguez.

The talk will examine the space between the perceiver and object, where neuroscience research meets the work of Alicja Kwade. Sarah Schwettmann’s recent work in intuitive physics finds evidence in the brain for a neural physics engine, much like physics engines in computer graphics, which simulate the physics of objects: their material properties as well as their dynamics. We will discuss how generative models such as physics engines operate on the malleable interface between the mind and the material to construct perceptual experience of the world. 

About the Speaker

Sarah Schwettmann is a computational neuroscientist interested in creativity underlying the human relationship to the world: from the brain’s fundamentally constructive role in sensory perception to the explicit creation of experiential worlds in art. She leads the Generist Project, an effort to articulate models for making and develop modes of collaboration between artists, developers, and the models themselves. Sarah also conducts research on Intuitive Physics in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, where she is working toward her PhD as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and teaches a course that she developed on Vision in Art and Neuroscience. Previously, Sarah was a member of the Eagleman Laboratory for Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine and the Shouval Lab for Theoretical Neuroscience at UT Health Science Center Houston. In the arts, Sarah uses her background in computation to create installations that explore structure underlying creativity. Her work has been shown in New York at FiftyThree and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at OPEN Gallery and MIT Museum’s Compton Gallery in Boston. Sarah received BAs in Computational and Applied Mathematics and Cognitive Science from Rice University, where she was a Trustee Distinguished Scholar, Century Scholar, and taught courses on Engineering Computation and Women Leaders in STEM.

About the Series

Graduate Student Gallery Talks at the List Center present focused explorations of our current exhibitions and are led by an MIT graduate student. These interdisciplinary talks examine art through the lens of students’ research, backgrounds, and interests. 

All programs are free and open to the general public. RSVPs are required. RSVP here