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A Mind-Expanding Experience

Duke neuroscience community brings in an artist-in-residence

Artist Amy Caron will be on campus Oct. 7 to Nov. 3.

How's this for mind-expanding? Duke's neuroscience community is hosting an artist-in-residence this term.

Amy Caron from Salt Lake City will be here from Oct. 7 through Nov. 3, offering eight public performances of her installation "Waves of Mu," which explores brain anatomy and the somewhat controversial notion of "mirror neurons." She'll also guest-lecture around campus in both arts and sciences.

Caron's installation also will be augmented by some local talent: Duke music grad student Paul Leary is composing an original score, and psychology and neuroscience grad student David Paulsen is creating some visual art to add to the two-room installation.

In the first room, an audience of 50 people explores an art installation representing a vividly colored model of the brain, complete with velvet floor coverings, chandeliers, paintings, photography and sculpture. In the second room, they find Caron, in the role of an eccentric scientist, interacting with them and challenging their thoughts, presumably triggering some of their "mirror neurons."

Sounds kinda fun, doesn't it?



"Waves of Mu" caught the attention of Duke Professor Michael Platt, who partnered with the Visual Studies Initiative to bring Caron to campus. "The interdisciplinary nature of her approach makes it possible to explore education via contemporary art," Platt said. "The teaching potential of the piece is realized through the use of sound, sculpture, touch, visual, smell and taste sensations. In these ways, the piece is totally immersive." Platt wants Duke students to experience, engage and potentially add to the work. "(It) removes the traditional distance that galleries and museums provide, making both the installation and performance intimate and immediate. The viewer becomes a part of the total work."

"Waves of Mu" premiered in 2008 at the Firehouse Gallery and was commissioned with support from the National Performance Network and New York's Performance Space 122. In 2011, "Waves of Mu" will be presented at the University of Utah's School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, and Sushi Performance and Visual Art in San Diego.

Amy Caron's residency at Duke is sponsored by the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Art & Art History, Visual Studies Initiative, Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Additional support comes from the Council for the Arts' Visiting Artist Program, which supports projects that will enrich the life of the university and broader community, augment the curriculum, facilitate the interaction of artists and scholars, foster the reputation of Duke University as a place where the arts are vital and diverse, and contribute to the arts as a whole.