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  • Brainwave: Perception

Members Pre-sale on January 9-10, 2017

Do we see reality?

Our perception of the world is colored by and filtered through our past experiences. The tenth season of Brainwave will help us better understand the limits of our perception, allowing us to change our brains, unshackle ourselves from the past, and unleash creativity, growth, and inspiration.

Box Office

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212.620.5000 ext 344
Monday to Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On-Stage Conversations

Is enlightenment technically possible?
Rohan Gunatillake + Tracy Dennis
Wednesday, January 25
7:00 PM | $18.00
Can technology make us more mindful? Rohan Gunatillake, creator of the best-selling meditation app buddhify meets with Psychology professor Tracy Dennis to explore technology’s role in meditation and the seemingly contradictory act of “plugging in to unplug.”
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Can there be such a thing as mindful politics?
David Nichtern + Ethan Nichtern + Samantha Boardman
Wednesday, February 1
7:00 PM | $22.50
Father David and son Ethan Nichtern have each had a profound impact on the meditation community in the United States. In this Brainwave talk they meet with positive psychologist Samantha Boardman to discuss the perspective that mindfulness can bring to our political climate.
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How does a blind cook cook?
Christine Ha + David Linden
Friday, February 3
7:00 PM | $22.50
How to cook by touch: Christine Ha, the season three winner of MasterChef first blind contestant, joins neuroscientist David Linden to discuss perception beyond the visual. Linden breaks down the science of Ha’s extraordinary palate to understand how we perceive touch, taste, and smell.
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How is movie magic made?
Walter Murch + Heather Berlin
Saturday, February 4
2:00 PM | $22.50
Legendary film editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient) and neuroscientist Heather Berlin demonstrate how image and sound can be manipulated to change our perception of the truth.
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Is there a new way to see the stars?
Lawrence Weschler + Walter Murch
Saturday, February 4
6:00 PM | $22.50
Pulitzer Prize nominee Lawrence Weschler’s newest book, Waves Passing in the Night, is a profile of Walter Murch, a film legend and amateur astrophysicist whose investigations could reshape our understanding of the universe. In this rare conversation between writer and subject we learn what it takes to pursue the seemingly quixotic goal of changing the perceptions of mainstream science.
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Do you know what you are eating?
Dan Barber + Sheena Iyengar
Monday, February 6
7:00 PM | $36.00
In his book, The Third Plate, chef Dan Barber argues that we need to make different eating choices. He meets with Sheena Iyengar, an expert in the science of decision making, to discuss whether that type of change is possible.
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What’s the secret to a great home-made sauce?
Lidia Bastianich + Gary Beauchamp
Wednesday, February 8
7:00 PM | $36.00
Have we evolved to enjoy certain flavors? Restaurant mogul Lidia Bastinanich conducts a tasting with you, the audience, and with chemical senses expert Gary Beauchamp to discover why we taste and smell the way we do and how that informs what we like to eat.
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Buddhist advice for the heartbroken
Lodro Rinzler + Judson Brewer
Friday, February 10
7:00 PM | $18.00
Prepare for the anguish of Valentine’s Day: Shambhala teacher Lodro Rinzler and psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer will dive into a conversation about love, suffering, and how emotion colors perception.
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Why Magicians are Master Manipulators
Asi Wind + Tony Ro
Wednesday, February 15
7:00 PM | $22.50
Magicians are master manipulators of human perception. Neuroscientist Tony Ro shines a light on how sleight of hand diverts attention and distorts our perception, and how the brain processes illusion.
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Would you be a reliable witness to a crime?
NYPD’s Ralph Cilento + Amy Herman
Sunday, March 5
6:00 PM | $22.50
A crime is committed and you are its only witness. Can you accurately remember the events? In this interactive workshop, Amy Herman, founder and president of The Art of Perception, Inc., trains members of the FBI, CIA, and NYPD to enhance their powers of observation and memory by analyzing artworks. She sits down with Lieutenant Ralph Cilento of the New York Police Department to explore these techniques and help us solve a crime.
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Can Meditation Change the World?
Khentrul Thokmeth Rinpoche + Gaëlle Desbordes
Sunday, March 12
6:00 PM | $18.00
Khentrul Thokmeth Rinpoche sits down with neuroscientist Gaëlle Desbordes to explore meditation’s potential effects on the brain and the planet.
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When All You Hear is White Noise.
Peter Silberman + Mario Svirsky
Wednesday, March 15
7:00 PM | $18.00
When musician Peter Silberman developed a temporary but total loss of his hearing, his brain filled the silence with static. He discusses his brain’s interpretation of sound and demonstrates how it has affected his music with neuroscientist and hearing science specialist, Mario Svirsky.
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How to perceive without sight?
Isaac Lidsky + Michael E. Goldberg
Saturday, March 18
6:00 PM | $19.80
Isaac Lidsky knows better than most how the brain confronts new challenges. He went from childhood actor, to Harvard Law graduate, to successful entrepreneur. He also began to go blind at age thirteen, eventually losing his sight entirely by the time he was twenty-five. With neuroscientist Michael E. Goldberg, he discusses how the brain overcomes limitations and how perception goes beyond the visual.
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A.I. and Avatar: The New Explorers
Hod Lipson + Y-House
Wednesday, March 29
7:00 PM | $18.00
From microscopes to telescopes, humans have created many tools to expand our perception and exploration of the world. Now artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality are opening a whole new chapter. Can AIs that think differently than us open up entirely new views of reality? Can machines and other avatars expand the human experience””and perhaps even take our minds to the stars?
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How are women perceived in the workplace?
Maureen Chiquet + Vivian Diller
Wednesday, April 19
7:00 PM | $22.50
How are women perceived in the workplace? Former CEO of Chanel Maureen Chiquet sits down with psychotherapist Vivian Diller to discuss the business leader’s rise through the ranks, obstacles she faced, and successes she achieved, while giving advice for future generations in the quest to break the glass ceiling.
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Can we trust how our brain tells time?
Ted Chiang + Dean Buonomano
Friday, April 21
7:00 PM | $22.50
Can we trust how our brain tells time? Neurobiologist Dean Buonomano challenges our grasp of time, space, and the beyond with the help of Ted Chiang, the science fiction writer behind the blockbuster film Arrival.
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What makes a true work of art?
Tobias Meyer + Frank Moore
Wednesday, April 26
7:00 PM | $18.00
Tobias Meyer is one of the most prominent private art dealers currently in Manhattan. He was the Principal Auctioneer and Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s for over 20 years and has sold countless works by well-known masters. He sits down with neurosurgeon and art collector Frank Moore to discuss how we perceive authenticity: what makes a “true” work of art and how do we recognize it?
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Compassion by reflection
Mirror Meditation
Saturday, April 29
2:00 PM | $27.00
Mirror meditation is quite literally an exercise in self-reflection. Scientists are finding that gazing at one’s reflection in the mirror without an agenda reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing self-compassion.
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Cabaret Cinema: Perception

Fridays at 9:30 p.m.
$10; free to Rubin members

Can the truth truly be trusted? Is it objective or rather tinted by our experience and memories? Perhaps there is no better medium with which to explore these questions than the illusory cinema. In that pursuit we have invited scientists to introduce films that potently demonstrate that much of our perception is clouded by the distorted lens of our assumptions and desires.


Brainwave is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.