A Guided Tour of the Human Brain, From the Inside Out

A Guided Tour of the Human Brain, From the Inside Out

Sep 12, 2011 8:05 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  - The University of Utah Clinical Neurosciences Center and College of Fine Arts are collaborating to bring Utah-based artist Amy Caron’s Waves of Mu to campus this fall for a limited showing. Yes, you read that correctly: Neuroscience and Fine Arts working together. Unconventional? Yes. But that’s exactly what artist Amy Caron had in mind when she created Waves of Mu.

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran shook the scientific community in the late 90’s when he announced, “The discovery of mirror neurons is the most important unpublicized story of the decade.” Named after the electromagnetic oscillations (mu waves – pronounced myew) that reflect neuron activity in the brain, Waves of Mu is a mix of visual and performance art designed to stimulate public interest in modern neuroscience. “I want to engage and inform the audience about mirror neurons while simultaneously triggering the mirror neurons of those participating in the performance,” says artist Caron.

The first part of Waves of Mu is a “wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling representation of neuroanatomy,” Caron says. The atmosphere is festive and vibrant. “The experience is designed as a party, with information that’s communicated socially,” she says.  The second part of the work is a performance with theater, video, and audience interaction. Caron plays the role of an eccentric scientist, leading her audience through a lesson on how mirror neurons function – in part by evoking a variety of emotional responses.

Caron originally moved to Utah as an aerial ski jumper for the US Freestyle Ski team, earning a BFA in Dance at the University of Utah after eight years with the team. An advocate for what she calls the “empowered amateur,” she likes to learn as she goes, in fact; she says that learning is one of her biggest motivators in creating art.  In Waves of Mu, Caron shares this passion for learning with her audience, engaging them in the process, teaching, and learning from them as the interactive performance develops.

“One of the unique aspects of the University of Utah is our collaborative culture,” says Stefan-M Pulst, MD, Chair of Neurology at the Clinical Neurosciences Center. “Neurology and Fine Arts working together to inspire the public about both neuroscience and art is not something that would happen on every campus. Amy has created a show that we think initiates thinking, encourages discussion, and builds community. We hope that the public will take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of this outstanding show.”

"The College of Fine Arts is always seeking for opportunities to inform as well as be informed,” says Raymond Tymas-Jones, Associate Vice President for the Arts and Dean of the College of Fine Arts. “Waves of Mu offers an opportunity for the arts to inform about science and vice-versa.  I am extremely excited about each occasion disparate disciplines discover how the world is interconnected in ways that are not always obvious." 

“You don’t know what you’re in for,” writes neuroscientist Ramachandran about Waves of Mu. “It’s a surprise that tells you something about yourself that you already know, but are not aware of. You experience what being human is all about.”

Waves of Mu returns to Utah (it first appeared in SLC for three sold-out shows in 2009) after a successful series of runs in locales as diverse as New York City, Alaska, Duke University, and Burlington, Vermont.

The show opens September 14 with a free public reception and gallery tour (RSVP requested via website below).  Performances run through October 4th at the Film and Media Arts Building on the University of Utah campus.  Tickets are $7.00/person. Audience members must be 21 or over for most performances; see website for details. Ticketing and gallery hours available at http://healthcare.utah.edu/neurosciences/wavesofmu.

Images available for download at http://www.wavesofmu.com/Waves_of_Mu/Photos.html

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Media Contacts

Dennis Jolley

Phone: 801-585-7777
Email: dennis.jolley@hsc.utah.edu

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