David Byrne Brings Neuroscience to Pace Gallery

The two fields have more in common than meets the eye.

David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar. Photo: Courtesy Pace Gallery.

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and the Pace Gallery are cooperating on a neuroscience themed exhibition in Menlo Park, California.

Byrne and his collaborator, technology investor Mala Gaonkar, have joined forces to present the work of 15 global cognitive neuroscience labs for the show, called “Neurosociety” which is described as an immersive theatrical experience that reveals how the brain functions.

The duo contextualized research by neuroscience institutions from around the world and modified them for the gallery environment. “We traveled and met with many scientists who generously welcomed us, patiently answered our untutored questions, and creatively collaborated with us on this project,” Byrne and Gaonkar explained in a joint statement.

David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Visitors will be invited to explore the four different spaces in groups of 10 to experience a range participatory immersive theatrical demonstrations and experiments. “Experiments, we feel, are a form of theater,” Byrne and Gaonkar added. “We have adopted elements of art installation and immersive theater to present these experiences in ways we think will be as engaging for others as they have been for us.”

The duo explained that each participatory experience and interaction is designed to illustrate how the brain constructs and interprets the environments surrounding us, and reveals how individual experiences shape the subjective.

“In the course of creating the Institute, the work of our partner labs has become both a window and a mirror through which we view ourselves and our larger interactions with the world. We wanted to share these concepts with as many people as possible,” they said.

Visitors can participate in experiments that will see them be embodied in a doll, watch their hands grow to a huge size, accurately predict election results of fictional political battles, experience moving objects freeze, and discover how fair an trusting they are with others.

The object is to offer visitors the chance experience neuroscience research, rather than reading about it. You can even contribute to research if you choose, by consenting to submit the results of your experience to the labs for further research—anonymously of course.

“Neurosociety” runs from October 28, 2016–March 31, 2017 at PACE Art + Technology, 350 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California.

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