Clausberg, C., in: G. Leidloff: "l o g - i n / l o c k e d  o u t", in: O. Breidbach, K. Clausberg und K.P. Dencker (Hg.): Video, ergo sum, Hamburg 1999


Around 1630 René Descartes formulated a remarkable simile in his "Traité de l'homme": Those who have ever taken a close-up look at church organs know that the bellows press air into collective receptacles called wind chests and that this air moves from there into the pipes, some flowing into one, some toward another depending on how the organist moves his fingers along the keyboard. According to Descartes, one could now picture that the heart and arteries pumping the spiritus animales (spirit of life) into the cranial cavities are similar to the bellows of organs pressing air into the wind chests, while external objects such as the organist's fingers caused the air to stream into particular pipes. The organ's harmony is not dependent however in any way upon the externally visible arrangement of its pipes, wind chests or other parts. The functions of the brain would share this independence of a determining influence on the part of both external details observed by anatomists or by the shape of the cranial ventricles. A few years later in "Discours de la méthode" Descartes came up with the idea of imaging, just for the sake of it, that he had no body and that there were neither a world nor a place where he was located. Nonetheless he chose not to attempt imaging that he himself did not exist.

Descartes never considered the possibility that one could be locked against one's will into a defective body equipped with a faulty organ machinery of communication channels. Despite this, the scenarios of being mentally locked in or inapproachable, as diagnosed in modern medicine for example through the term "Locked-in Syndrome", can be derived directly from those images used by him.

Such verifiably existent extremes challenge both art and the neurological sciences to the same extent. The point is not to take the conditions surrounding human psychopathology for granted. Reason enough to approach them in the profession and field-bridging project l o g - i n / l o c k e d o u t by Gabriele Leidloff. A forum for an exhibit and a symposium on l o g - i n / l o c k e d o u t is planned for the second half of 2001 in Hamburg in co-production with Karl Clausberg (art sciences) and Olaf Breitbach (biological, neurological sciences). A preliminary project to this event will begin in 1999 in the form of discussion forums and autopsies with the participants and institutions listed.

Karl Clausberg
Professor of Art History, University of Lüneburg