Scott Shepherd + John Kubie Committing the Great American Novel to Memory
Mnemonic Art Tour in the galleries
Karma Chain on the spiral staircase
Program in the theater
Born in Raleigh, N.C. and raised in Marietta, Ga. Scott Shepherd is recognized for his theatrical vigor and unique performances in the Wooster Group productions of Hamlet, Gatz and Poor Theater. Shepard also happens to know all 47,094 words in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby off by heart. He has "read" the work countless times as part of Elevator Repair Service’s highly acclaimed dramatic presentation of GATZ, shortly to be revived at the Public Theater.
John Kubie studies the role of the hippocampus in learning, memory and spatial navigation. While recording from the rat brain, Kubie and colleagues discovered that hippocampal neurons encode the specific environment the animal is in, along with the animal's precise location within the environment. That is, they found that each environment presents a unique 'map' or 'context.' In the rat, as in humans the hippocampus is essential both for storing memories and navigation. This has led to the idea that in both the rat and human brain, memories are stored with a spatial/contextual indexing system. When not doing research, Dr. Kubie teaches Neuroscience at SUNY Downstate.
Photo by Paula Court
Mnemonic Art Tour
Take advantage of a short tour of some paintings in the collection that function as mnemonic devices. The iconography in these paintings serve to reference specific passages in the sutras. That is why most of these works were not meant to be revealed to those who were not already initiates. The tour will include two types of paintings: narratives such as the life of the Buddha, and mandalas which are complex two-dimensional diagrams of one’s multi-dimensional state of mind.
As a prelude to the staged program, we are planning to stage a simple game of ‘telephone’ prior to the session to demonstrate the fallibility of oral transmission and the nature of short-term memory. Each ticket holder will stand on one of the steps of the 108-stepped spiral staircase of the Museum. The guest speaker stands at the base, whispers a short phrase they have prepared to the visitor on the first step, and the phrase would spiral up through the line until it reaches the ear of the scientist. The conversationalists will only reveal the original phrase and the result phrase when on stage in the theater, thus starting the conversation about memory.