It’s a 60 minute immersive theatrical experience in which groups of 10 people at a time experience recreations of the work of leading neuroscience, psychology and sociology labs.
David Byrne | January 4, 2017
It’s actually called The Institute Presents: Neurosociety.
It’s in a former car showroom in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley. It’s under the auspices of Pace Art + Technology, which is being run by Pace Gallery’s branch in Palo Alto.
What is it?
It’s a 60 minute immersive theatrical experience in which groups of 10 people at a time experience recreations of the work of leading neuroscience, psychology and sociology labs. In this iteration there are 3 ½ rooms, and, in each room, an experiment is reformulated in what I hope is an entertaining and surprising way. Guides in lovely arsenic green lab coats meet you in each room. They explain what you are experiencing. You have to book specific times to go through—get your tickets by clicking this link! In an hour you will be embodied in the body of a doll, predict elections, see clearly moving objects as still, deal with moral dilemmas and more.
Is it science, art, theater or what? A little bit of all of the above I’d say. There are overlaps with some recent social art, the SF Exploratorium and with some immersive theater—but this is really it’s own thing.
This particular experiment/experience was, for me, the genesis of this whole crazy and ambitious project.
How did this come about?
I’ve been thinking about something like this for many years, and the idea gained momentum when I teamed up with Mala Gaonkar, a friend of my friend Brian Eno. I’d heard about the doll experiment years ago and immediately wanted to experience it for myself. I approached Pace and the Ehrsson lab in Stockholm, but no luck. I couldn’t get it all to come together. While talking to Mala a couple of years ago, I learned she was brewing a similar idea for bringing the work of these labs to a wider public. So, together we gave it another try—and it works!
We visited the labs, tried out the experiments and consulted with them. We quietly tested some of these experiments in rooms in an abandoned building on Governors Island NY and then at Brooklyn Navy Yard, but none of those workshops were open to the public. This short version is. So if you are visiting the Bay area or if you live there please check it out. It’s one of the more unexpected things I’ve ever done, and people seem to like it!
You can visit the Eventbrite page that has more information about the show and tickets HERE.
Menlo Park, FYI, is about an hour south of San Francisco. The Neurosociety building is easily walkable from the Palo Alto metro train station.