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An Invitation to Lose Your 21st Century Western Mind

Intermedia events will evoke in participants radically different ways of experiencing reality

Release Date: January 10, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Intermedia Performance Studio, in collaboration with Buffalo's Subversive Theatre Collective, will present several free public events this weekend designed to help members of the audience not only understand, but actually experience, three very different theories of how the mind works.

"Improvising Consciousness" will include a lecture and three interactive workshops in which audiences will explore the idea that that cognition -- our mental processes and the product of these processes -- may be an accident of history.

The program will be directed by Josephine Anstey, UB associate professor of media study, working with a creative team of UB graduate students: Neil Coletta and Isaac Johnson (media study), Min Young Kim (English), Vanessa Webb and Tyler Brown (theatre and dance).

All events will take place at the Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow St., Buffalo. Those who want to participate can sign up at

The program will begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 with a performative lecture by Anstey discussing three distinct theories of mind: Julian Jaynes' radical hypothesis of the bicameral mind, which holds that until late in the second millennium human beings had no consciousness but obeyed the voices of gods that they actually heard in their heads; an extrapolation of Jaynes' theory of the contemporary configuration of mind, which he called the analog-I and which Anstey terms the I-Construct mind; and finally an imagined future Multi-Mind, which builds on the provocative insights of Roseanne Stone and Truddi Chase, marrying concepts of multi-personality disorder and the fluidity of personality enabled by the Internet.

The lecture will be followed by three interactive workshops: on Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 - 5 p.m.; and on Jan.15 from noon to 3 p.m.

Participants will take part in exercises in which their minds will be temporarily "stolen" in order to permit them the phenomenological experience of alternative mind configurations. Methods will include interactive computer-based and material games played with other participants and live actors, and an alter-ego workshop in which avatars of the self are produced and engage in performances.

The UB Intermedia Performance Studio is a collaborative initiative involving researchers, scientists and artists from the UB departments of Media Study, Theatre and Dance, and Computer Science and Engineering. It creates intermedia experiments in virtual and mixed reality, digital technology, computer science and live performance.

The group is particularly interested in exploring how digital technology and virtual environments can affect interpersonal dynamics (i.e., individual interactions with virtual actors and intelligent agents), as well as the communal relationships that are traditionally a part of live performance.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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