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UB's "Improvising Consciousness Medicine Show"

Come on down and try on a new head

Release Date: July 20, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For some time now, Josephine Anstey, associate professor of media study at the University at Buffalo, has been working with audience participants to explore not only the history, but the experience of diverse and radical theories of mind.

She does this through interactive performance workshops she calls "Improvising Consciousness Medicine Shows."

The performances/games are free, deliberately mind-boggling, mind-opening and coming to a "theater" near you. They will include, among other things, a lecture, a tank-bound "alien" and his avatar, and a game in which participants control robots serving as their avatars.

Anstey explains that specific exercises will permit participants the phenomenological experience of alternative mind configurations -- minds that may well have described a very different experience of being human in the distant past, and others that suggest quite a different future for us, cognitively speaking.

Participants will be able to experience the bicameral mind posited by a radical hypothesis of Julian Jaynes. It holds that, until around 1200 BC human beings had no awareness of consciousness at all, but obeyed the voices of gods (or neurological commands) that they actually heard in their heads.

They also will explore an imagined future, a "Multi-Mind" that marries the concept of multi-personality disorder and the fluidity of Internet-enabled personality. This experience will build on the provocative insights of media theorist Roseanne Stone and Truddi Chase, author of "When Rabbit Howls," about living with multiple personality disorder.

Workshops will be presented in the Manny Fried Theatre, 255 Great Arrow Ave., Buffalo, third floor, July 27-28 from 6-7:30 p.m.

They also will be presented at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St., Buffalo, on July 29 from 5:45-7:15 p.m. and Aug. 1 from 5-6:30 p.m.

This project is supported by the UB Digital Humanities Initiative and the UB Department of Media Study, and the Department of Computer Science, Canisius College.

The Improvising Consciousness production team includes Anstey; Dave Pape, associate professor of media study at UB; Deb Burhans, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Canisius College; UB media study graduate students Neil Coletta and Devin Wilson; and Courtney Hatten, an undergraduate computer science student at Canisius College.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan
Senior Editor, Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences
Tel: 716-645-4602
pdonovan@buffalo.edu