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