By Mose Halperin
David Byrne is teaming up with Mala Gaonkar (who the New York Times describes as a “London-based hedge fund manager with science and public-health interests”) for what’s being described as an “immersive theatrical experience” about neuroscience. The project, called The Institute Presents: Neurosociety, will be presented in Pace Gallery’s Menlo Park (in the Bay Area) wing from October 28, 2016 to March 31, 2017, and encompasses a series of environments, designed by 15 influential cognitive neuroscience labs — including the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Harvard University, Karolinska Institutet, New York University, Princeton University, University College London and Yale University; visitors, as the official website for the event describes, will wander through the exhibit in groups of ten, witnessing 80 minutes of, er, neuroscientific performance across four spaces containing four cognitive experiments…that’re also theater pieces, somehow, apparently.
Since surely everyone has always wondered about the kind of immersive theatre, say, Caltech would make if it had to represent itself through the niche artistic practice made commercial by the likes of Sleep No More rather than by… being Caltech, this exhibit will be enlightening! (Though if you’re expecting to see a bunch of neurons interpretive dancing the plot of Macbeth with ’40s noir flourishes, you may find yourself disappointed.)
Per the official description:
Each interaction will reveal how the brain builds a subjective measure of the world and is fundamentally guided by pragmatic concerns anchored in personal experiences. These responses gradually reveal not only aspects of ourselves but also how we interact with others, often in counterintuitive and surprising ways. Visitors will be embodied in a doll, see their hands grow to a vast size, accurately predict election results of fictional politicians, witness moving objects freeze and discover how fair and trusting they are with others.
Tickets to the event are $45 dollars, so you don’t quite need to be a “hedge fund manager with science and public-health interests” to attend.