Brainwave discussions (2013)

by | Oct 21, 2013 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Brainwave discussions (2013)

Various scientists discuss the mysteries of the mind with celebrities incl. Debra Winger, Henry Rollins, Lewis Black, Amy Tan, Laurie Anderson, Mark Morris, R. L. Stine and others [ChapterList follows]
Studio: Rubin Museum of Art/ RLJ Entertainment/ Athena Films AMP-2014, 3 DVDs, 10 episodes
Video: 4:3 color (last three are 16:9)
Audio: English DD mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: 16-p. illustrated booklet on dreams, neuroscience, the Rubin Museum & profiles on each participant
Length: 562 minutes
Rating: ****

A fascinating series which The New York Times called “a true meeting of the minds.” The idea of having a professor of something sitting in conversation with a celebrity author, composer, performer, etc. is a good one. There is an apologetic front title alluding to the fact that this series was originally videotaped for the Internet and the picture and sonic quality might have some glitches in them. The only really annoying thing to me was that in some of the videos the scientist has a Keynote presentation on the screen above the seated pair, yet the videographer (with the single camera) never zooms out to show what is on the screen. You only see the lower right-hand corner of it.

As the series goes on—it was launched in 2008—videotaping gets a bit more professional, and the last three episodes are 16:9 widescreen. Towards the end of each episode there are titles of questions from the audience which are then answered by the participants.

The Rubin Museum of Art in NYC was founded in 2004 and produces exhibitions and events related to Himalayan art and culture and their relevance to contemporary life. These informal talks explore how the human mind works, and the subjects include memory, perception, dreams (several episodes on that), creativity, consciousness, fear and illusions. One of the series subtitles is: “Interpreting Dreams, from Gilgamesh to Today.”  The “celebrity” participants come from all walks of life, and include a writer of scary children’s stories, a meditation instructor, a choreographer, a noted chef, and a Grammy-award-winning comic. They are all enthusiastic in asking questions of the scientist-types and moving the discussions forward. Some of the scientists even differ from others in the series on their subject, such as dreams. The personal details revealed by some of the celebrities are quite fascinating. I enjoyed hearing about Laurie Anderson, Lewis Black, Henry Rollins and Amy Tan.

The Geography of Bliss, How Did the Universe Gets Its Spots?, The Science of Rage, Do You Get Goosebumps Too?, Disgust, How Can I Feel Peace of Mind?, Why Does Movement Move Us?, The Assassin of My Dreams, Do Dreams Come True?, Creativity in the Dreaming Brain.

—John Sunier


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