Performance science


Rich Copely, an arts critic for the Lexington Herald-Leader, has added a new gig writing for Flyover, an artsJournal blog devoted to the arts community in cities between the U.S. coasts. Having read Copely for a while, I'm sure he'll help move that coverage forward.

But when it comes to meaning making, it's the effort to bridge the distance between knowing in the arts and sciences that I want to address here.

One of Copely's fellow bloggers at artsJournal comments on the TED presentation of neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, who describes brain functioning from the point of view of someone doing psychiatric research and who, in a TED presentation earlier this year, memorably describes an internal left brain, right brain dialog she holds while experiencing a stroke twelve years ago. Her theatrical presentation adds to the sense of privileged discovery one has listening to the telling. And posting the video, Andrew Taylor, the "artful manager" at artsJournal, says that if "arts and cultural managers are in the business of fostering meaning, emotion, and human discovery," then it might helpful to "know how the equipment works." Agreed.

That vantage point of "knowing how the equipment works" is also enjoyed by Richard Kogan. A world class pianist and practicing psychiatrist, he memorably performed and lectured on George Gershwin at the IdeaFestival in 2006. Gershwin died in 1936 following surgery for a brain tumor. Kogan's description in words and deeds of music from that period of the composer's life was moving.

Lastly, Rich Copley this weekend described the intellectual challenge of staging Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia," a play that incorporates "mathematical subplots about chaos theory, thermodynamics and things of that sort." To prepare, the players spent a considerable amount of time talking with a University of Kentucky mathematician about those sorts of things.

I find that awfully cool and wonder what might be learned if more science shared the stage.