What do you get when you combine music, sound, movement and a little bit of Bill Nye?

The McMaster LIVELab has been attempting to answer this question for the last two years, and on November 29 and 30, they’ll attempt to publicly answer the question in conjunction with the Double Pendulum Collective in a performance entitled Synaptic Rodeo.

An interdisciplinary initiative, Synaptic Rodeo combines neuroscience, technology and art. Part lecture, part performance, the show centers around Dr. Laurel Trainor, a flautist-turned-cognitive-psychologist who field of study includes the perception, cognition and neuroscience of music. However, things aren’t necessarily what they may seem and during the lecture, alternate versions of Dr. Trainor physically emerge (played by Anna Chatterton and Julia Aplin). As she tries to understand her own consciousness on stage, the audience is simultaneously invited to watch as real and artistic realities take shape around them, thanks to motion capture, active acoustics and measurements of electrical activity within the brain. The lecture, paired with the unique visualizations ultimately portray an attempt to explore human consciousness and question what is real and what is not.

The manipulation of technology that is more commonly associated with studying health used instead for artistic expression requires all-star leadership and vision both on and off-stage. To that end, in addition to Dr. Trainor, LIVELab has tapped Hamilton-based artist Christopher Stanton to direct. Founding member of local performance troupe INDUSTRY, Stanton has also received numerous Dora Mavor Moore nominations and critical claim from coast to coast.

In addition to Stanton, Synaptic Rodeo has assembled a well-known team to execute this production. The work of artists including composer John Gzowski and media artist/electronics engineer Jim Ruxton are all critical to the story’s narrative. The alternate versions of Dr. Trainor are performed by former Dancemakers member Julia Aplin and two-time Governor General’s Award finalist Anna Chatterton.

Collaborating under the name “Double Pendulum Collective,” these artists have had a two-year residency to investigate the intersections of artistic practice and neuroscience.

“The artists use the LIVELab as a technological instrument to reach beyond the standard boundaries of mind and body.” said LIVELab Manager Sally Stafford via email.

No stranger to this type of exploration, LIVELab’s concert series, of which Synaptic Rodeo is a part of, is now in its fifth season. Located within the McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind, the LIVELab is a 106-seat research-based performance theatre and testing centre. LIVELab is committed to developing a world class facility for the scientific study of music, sound, and movement and their importance in human development and human health.

Who: Double Pendulum Collective & McMaster LIVELab
What: Synaptic Rodeo
Where: McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind, McMaster University (Second Floor, Psychology Building, Room PC-202A, 1280 Main Street West)
When: November 29 at 8pm, November 30 at 2pm & 8pm
Tickets: $10 Students & Artists; $20 General Admission
More Information or To Buy Tickets:  https://livelab.mcmaster.ca/

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