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Brainland

BRAINLAND THE OPERA - An introduction

Season 1, Ep. 1

Brainland is a new opera that interweaves three stories from the history of 20th Neuroscience, created by four artists with a background in neuroscience and medicine, in development with by a range of associates. In these podcasts the creators of Brainland talk about the project and explore the historical background to those stories by speaking to academics and collaborators.

INTRODUCING BRAINLAND

In this podcast the four artists who created Brainland talk about the origin of the project and their contributions. The four storylines, covered in detail in other episodes, are briefly outlined.

Contributors:

Tim Taylor, dancer, teacher; Programme manager for dance, Morley College, London.

Ken Barrett, research and design/librettist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/                                      

Stephen Brown, composer. http://cornwallcomposers.com/stephen.htm

Heather Angus Leppan, poet (libretto)

Musical extracts: Act 1, Scene 7: Singers: Jodie Li-Smith and Hester Dart (Morley alumni)

For the full score, libretto, story outline, designs, animations and more go to the opera website:

www.brainlandtheopera.co.uk

Click the link below for an animated prelude to Act 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNNcslZ2Mnc

 

Contact: steve4cello@ gmail.com                              kenb@kenbarrettstudio.co.uk


Brainland the Podcast produced by Ken Barrett and Bob Barrett.

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  • 30. OBJECTS WITH SOUL: The strange power of puppets in opera.

    49:40
    In this podcast Hayley talks us through the early history of puppets in opera, including the eighteenth century fashion for opera composed specifically for puppets. She goes on to describe the conclusions reached in her doctoral research, applying musicological thinking to marionette operas in our era, conclusions she considers applicable more widely to cinema and animation. These include her theory 'performance networks and poetic synchronicity. She talks about her experience of various performances and her conviction that the movement of puppets, expertly 'played', are inherently musical. Participants:Hayley Burton Richards, musicologist, musician, educator, Head of Music, Wilson's School.Ken Barrett, artist, writer, retired neuropsychiatrist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/Hayley"s beautifully written Harvard PhD thesi. 'Breath, Gravity and Death' can be accessed here:  https://dash.lib.harvard.edu/handle/1/37372118?show=fullSome of the performances discussed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWi-7aTW_pohttps://www.kentridge.studio/projects/wozzeck/Richard Teschner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY38P-6TYQMLotte Reiniger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-TJvNBO1fwOpening music: extract from scene 2 of Brainland composed by Stephen Brown.Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.ukSketch by KB.
  • 29. YOUR BRAIN ON RELIGION: Exploring the neuroscience of religious experience.

    36:27
    In this podcast, after outlining some of the positive and negative of religious behaviour, Patrick discusses the key areas currently being studied in order to better understand the cognitive neuroscience of religion. These include REM sleep, the effects of psychedelic substances and the default mode network. ‘Decentering’, a key aspect of his team’s approach to the subject is explained along with the possible involvement of predictive processing. He discusses why he believes religion to be a ‘transformational technology’ and the impact of brain pathology on religiosity. Participants:Patrick McNamara, Professor, Department of Psychology, National UniversityAssociate Professor of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, President Emeritus, Center for Mind and Culture, Boston MA. cognitiveneuroscienceofreligion.orgKen Barrett, artist, writer and retired neuropsychiatrist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/Patrick's recent books mentioned in the podcast: The cognitive neurosciecne of religious experience: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cognitive-Neuroscience-Religious-Experience-Decentering/dp/1108977898/ref=sr_1_1?crid=27ANJMOV7L933&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.VfizW2OdtY7ieLd7pOKo2MsVsdjfAQTK6opPXGdf80lTCzNQKZ1ObrMeL7XUel1JRw0jAan9OeTAELpC2UFtOluJui4pquuCKfZfOVZzJdbmIW9rw4503Yy4XVGCwVSYUYBuEKezhtlXB3djLhCYMsp94nYlBSI9_1RU8pWveD7XD8qDRgTpGD6tgJVo1TmznLPDSne12UJuNWb3h19EVHe28tsSZTqw3vT-pvs33T8.eJK3qrKjpLs8mbY4-EtyCVqhO_rs6tG87YrQrNrd2mg&dib_tag=se&keywords=patrick+mcnamara&qid=1719523857&sprefix=patrick+mcnamara%2Caps%2C90&sr=8-1 Religion, neuroscience and the self: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Religion-Neuroscience-Self-Personalism-Neurotheology/dp/1032176008/ref=pd_sbs_d_sccl_1_1/262-6697966-8243913?pd_rd_w=5GUcv&content-id=amzn1.sym.ad51136c-8d04-4e54-9ec5-18cad2a65d61&pf_rd_p=ad51136c-8d04-4e54-9ec5-18cad2a65d61&pf_rd_r=T5QPQF9409B9KZ0G4YKF&pd_rd_wg=jlX6N&pd_rd_r=3b50c7d5-236d-4ad4-a876-3420dcd9d712&pd_rd_i=1032176008&psc=1Opening music: extract from the prelude to Brainland by Stephen Brown.Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.ukSketch by KB.
  • 28. A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH: The story of a movie.

    39:09
    'A Matter of Life and Death' (AMOLAD) is a 1946 film by Michael Powell and Emerich Pressberger. Peter Carter, a bomber pilot is returning from the last raid of the war. His plane and parachute are shot up so he decides to 'jump rather than fry' and has a last conversation over the radio with June, an American radio operator before jumping, as he expects, to his death. He doesn't die but washes up on a beach and as a love story unfolds between him and June he is menaced by recurrent episodes (clinically, complex partial epileptic seizures though the words aren't mentioned in the film) during which a 'conductor' from the afterlife tries to persuade him to return with him as he shouldn't really have survived. The film culminates in a realistically staged neurosurgical operation on Peter whilst in the afterlife his case to go on living is put on trial trial. Ian explains why this is his favourite film of all time (as it is Ken's),their conversation ranging over origin and influences, forebears and progeny, design and music, the clincial neuroscience that underpins it and much more.Participants:Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media History, Birckbeck, University of London. www.ianchristie.orgKen Barrett, artist and writer, retired neuropsychiatrist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/For more about 'A Matter of Life and Death': https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038733/ (SEE IT!)https://www.bfi.org.uk/film/b58b75d7-e9e2-5a1f-a448-afa92a35462d/a-matter-of-life-and-deathIn the UK it is currently (on 21.6.24) On BBC Iplayer.Ian's book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matter-Life-Death-Film-Classics/dp/1839023899The other book mentioned, on the neuroscientific background of the film, is by Diane Broadbent Friedman: https://www.amazon.com/Matter-Life-Death-Revealed-Michael/dp/1438909454/ref=sr_1_1?crid=44HWRLDHFBAD&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.OOo1Jr5zS9T5S66Qxafa0k1nEXlGBWJ8OtH_BdckQVxe0Adbh0U9UUXtsF-ikO6S470ZJafISz1fi5BjjOZt-K4rfe3RUVnVfT9z9-aIffzEet5ZKUBDQFbGEV1HSo4yU3JpZWvHWWe5uGzjy5AUH9iAiT5oKdx7a4wWP-x7lubaTLPDggjtJ2wGe_Lz08kwaBYDzg2E6_aKIPxfYYVvKk2vtaR4ghzBqTRUdFZ8-kE.RnIRY1ho2lgxZvWxZW4th9yrxYt89JrWLPj42mXYmKg&dib_tag=se&keywords=friedman.+a+matter+of+life+and+death&qid=1719513403&sprefix=friedman.+a+matter+of+life+and+death%2Caps%2C96&sr=8-1 This is a paper by the same author: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1344781/This is the the book by Frigyes Karinthy which was part of the inspiration: https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/A_Journey_Round_My_Skull.html?id=trCxtdw5OHcC&redir_esc=yOpening music, extract from the prelude to Brainland by Stephen Brown.Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.ukSketch by KB.
  • 27. THE VITAL SPARK: A pianist's tale.

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  • 25. THE VITAL SPARK: A director's tale.

    38:36
    This is another in the Vital Spark series exploring facets of creativity with a range of artists and academics. In this conversation Italian director, actor and teacher Chiara D'Anna speaks about her work and creative process, beginning with images, physical and emotional atmosphere before involving words. We discuss her acting in film, particularly with Peter Strickland (Duke of Burgundy and Berberian Sound Studio) and her training and teaching in commedia dell’arte, an Italian tradition of theatre she outlines for us. We talk about her evolving one woman show and the differences in performing in Italian or English, particularly in relation to humour and comic timing. She also speaks about her major upcoming project. co-directing Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos in Budapest. Participants: Chiara D’Anna, director, actor, teacher and Commedia Dell’Arte specialist. https://www.chiaradanna.com/ Ken Barrett, artist and writer, retired neuropsychiatrist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/For more on commedia dell'Arte this is Chiara's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@movementactortraining Music: Prelude to the opera 'Brainland' composed by Stephen Brown.Sketch by KB.Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.uk 
  • 24. THE VITAL SPARK: A novelist's tale.

    41:37
    The Vital Spark’ is an occasional series delving into aspects of creativity. For this podcast Stephen Brown travelled to the far west of Cornwall for a conversation with novelist, screen writer and fellow cellist Patrick Gale. Patrick talks about his unusual childhood, his journey from musician and singer to becoming a successful writer, the life events that help enliven his novels and the research that underpins them. He speaks about his writing process, including the need to leave self behind and inhabit characters. Other aspects of the creative process are also touched upon and good editors get a mention. They discuss the similarity between composing music and writing to commission and, as a case in point, Patrick talks about his recent stage adaptation of his novel ‘Take Nothing With You’ and his hopes for a multipart screen adaptation of ‘A Town Called Winter’. Participants:Patrick Gale, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and musician https://galewarning.org/ Stephen Brown, musician, composer and retired neuropsychiatrist. http://cornwallcomposers.com/stephen.htmMusic: Prelude to the opera 'Brainland' composed by Stephen Brown.Sketch by KB. Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.uk
  • 23. BRAINWAVES: Hans Berger and the discovery of the EEG.

    58:40
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  • 22. OBJECTS WITH SOUL: The strange power of puppetry.

    37:09
    Why do we respond to puppets? That's what this episode explores, with the help of Pia and Ana, academics who approach the question from different perspectives. We discover what is meant by the 'uncanny valley' and how it links puppetry to robots (and zombies!) and discuss if 'concptual blending' might be useful. Does the old notion of 'suspending disbelief' hold water? Ana talks about her project using a viewer's direction of gaze to explore this question in re;ation to puppetry.Participants:Pia Banzhaf, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, Department of Linguistics , Lanuages and Culture; Center for Integrrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities; Collaborations for Applied puppetry Research. Website: KaleidoscopiaAna Diaz Barriga, Doctoral Candidate, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre & Drama, Northwestern University. https://www.anadiazbarriga.com/Ken Barrett, artist, writer and retired neuropsychiatrist.http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/Pia's chapter, 'The Ontology of puppets' is here: http://otworzksiazke.pl/images/ksiazki/dolls_and_puppets/dolls_and_puppets.pdf#page=9More about the show Ana has been studying is hereMore about the 'uncanny valley is here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/ai-uncanny-valleyand this image illustrates it: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/6f/d2/2c/6fd22c3c6e5cc72c1e7f4f840c594c56.jpgMusic: Prelude to Brainland, Act 1, composed by Stephen BrownSketch by KB.Brainland the opera: www.brainlandtheopera.co.uk