David Byrne Opens The Institute Presents: Neurosociety

Best-known for his career as the founding member of new wave band Talking Heads, David Byrne also enjoys other creative endeavours. In addition to his music career, Byrne creates art, writes, acts, directs, and produces films and records. His creations tend to be eclectic and experimental. Byrne’s latest project The Institute Presents: Neurosociety is definitely both those things.

Held in a former car showroom in Melno Park, Silicon Valley, Byrne explains the project in his newsletter:

“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”.

Visitors tour the rooms where guides in “lovely arsenic green lab coats” explain to them what you are experiencing. In the one hour experience, people are embodied within a doll, predict elections, see moving objects as still, and deal with moral dilemmas, among other things.

Byrne explains how the project came 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!”

Byrne and Gaonkar visited labs, tried out experiments, and consulted with scientists. They tried a few experiments at a couple other abandoned buildings. Now, their whole experience is open to the public. You can find out more information and book tickets here.

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