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04.06.2015 // The Art + Science of Craft Beer @ Brooklyn Brewery

On April 6th, ArtLab proudly partnered with Brooklyn Brewery to host an evening exploring the magic + mystery behind crafting the perfect brew. With Brooklyn Brewmaster Garret Oliver—a former filmmaker—we took a deep dive into a drink that helped establish civilization itself, and then sustained it for thousands of years: beer. Today’s craft brewing is a perfect blend of scientific stringency and pure creative energy, where art is a constant inspiration.

Garrett gave ArtLabbers a unique behind-the-scenes look at how Brooklyn Brewery transforms humble ingredients and ornery microbes into a vast array of delicious flavors. For a quick recap of the evening’s insights, enjoy the above video courtesy of New Learning Times—a series about innovative learning opportunities produced by EdLab at Columbia University’s Teachers College.


Save the Date! ArtLab: Memory + Myth // March 22nd

How much can we trust our memories? On Sunday, March 22th, ArtLab presents Memory + Myth: a live theater-infused exploration of the neuroscience of memory. The evening features original work from The Deconstructive Theatre Project–a Brooklyn-based performing arts company mixing neuroscience with multimedia–with insights into the brain from the mind of Dr. Paula Croxson.

ArtLab kicks off with an interactive experiment as Paula tests our powers of recall and introduces us to the neuroscience of how we remember. This crash course in recollection will be followed by an excerpt from the DTP’s The Orpheus Variations–a reimagining of the famous myth as a tale of the mutability of memory by blending live performance, neuroscience, and interactive technology. Rounding out the night, ArtLab will turn to the audience to delve deeper into the realm of remembrance through moderated discussion with Paula and DTP founder + director Adam J. Thompson.

Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire.∇Δ John Dewey

ArtLab: Memory + Myth will begin at 6:30 pm at the Center for Performance Research and is presented as part of Brain Awareness Week, featuring brain-themed events happening across New York City.

About Our Guests

croxsonPaula Croxson is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, where she researches how memories are stored in the brain and what happens when they are compromised. Her work focuses on the complex, autobiographical life memories that are lost in aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When she’s not doing science, or talking about science, she plays the flute with indie rock band Marlowe Grey.

thompsonAdam J. Thompson is the Founding Director of The Deconstructive Theatre Project and a multimedia artist and producer. For The Deconstructive Theatre Project, he has created and directed six productions, including most recently The Orpheus Variations (Magic Futurebox 2012, HERE 2013, Under the Radar 2014, Theater at the 14th Street Y 2015). Documentary footage of The Orpheus Variations was installed as a part of “Um, Nenhum, e Cem Mil,” a visual art exhibition exploring the intersections of art and science, at Edge Arts in Lisbon, Portugal between January and March 2013. He is currently developing Searching for Sebald, the second in the company’s series of live cinema events, to premiere in early 2016. Adam is a member of The Builders Association and the Associate Producer of PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now. He has taught and guest lectured at The School of Making Thinking, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and NYU. He holds a BA in directing and dramaturgy from Emerson College in Boston.

dtpThe Deconstructive Theatre Project is a Brooklyn-based multimedia creative laboratory that is currently creating a series of works that collide live performance, neuroscience, and interactive technology. It’s most recent live cinema project, The Orpheus Variations, just completed a sold-out engagement at The Public Theater’s 2015 Under the Radar Festival followed by an encore engagement at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y in New York City. The company has been singled out for “masterfully reinventing what live theatre can mean for the individual” and as “innovatively reflective on the future of the performing arts.” To learn more visit

Event details:


Center for Performance Research

361 Manhattan Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11237

Date + Time: March 22, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

$10, 21+
Buy advanced tickets [no fee]

Proudly Partnered with:

12.10.2014 // Science Distilled @ Kings County Distillery

On Wednesday, December 10th, ArtLab joined Kings County Distillery to revel in the art + science behind the warmest of winter drinks: whiskey.

The evening kicked off with a special tour of Kings County Distillery, giving us the inside scoop on how they distill their much-celebrated moonshine + bourbon. Following this behind-the-scenes look, ArtLab founder, Maryam Zaringhalam, sat down with Master Blender and chemical engineer Nicole Austin for a conversation about the chemistry, biology, and artistry behind crafting the perfect whiskey drink.

About Kings County Distillery

Kings County Distillery is New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, the first since prohibition. Founded in 2010, Kings County makes handmade moonshine and bourbon out of the 115-year-old Paymaster Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They use New York grain and traditional distilling equipment to make distinctive whiskey. Their whiskeys have won numerous awards from the American Distilling Institute, the American Craft Spirits Association, and their bourbon was recently named #2 craft bourbon by Eric Asimov of the New York Times. They only distill whiskey for the Kings County Distillery label and never buy bulk whiskey from any other source.

Special thanks to ArtLab: Science Distilled Partners…

04.25.2014 // Big Green Theater

On Friday, April 25th, ArtLab proudly joined the Big Green Theater Festival to celebrate the intersection between environmental education and creativity in honor of Earth Week. Following a special performance of this year’s eco-inspired Big Green Theater plays, ArtLab sat down with director Jeremy Pickard, The Bushwick Starr’s creative director Noel Joseph Allain, and BGT guest environmental scientists Dr. Jennifer Jacquet + Dr. Katherine Alfredo for a conversation exploring our ecological relationship with food and water and the role of the arts in enhancing science education. Please enjoy audio from the evening’s discussion below!

Now in its fourth year, Big Green Theater [BGT] is a community-based program that brings theater professionals and environmental researchers into Bushwick’s PS123’s 5th-grade classroom to develop a series of original environmentally themed plays. A collaborative effort between eco-theater collective Superhero Clubhouse [SHC] and nonprofit theater The Bushwick Starr, BGT at once promotes environmental awareness while providing students with a creative outlet for the exploration of ecological concepts and concerns. The resulting plays are performed in an annual Big Green Theater festival by an ensemble of professional actors, directors, and designers using green theater methods.

BGT Photo

From start to finish, Big Green Theater epitomizes the many merits of weaving the arts into science education. Coming from a science background, what struck me most about the evening’s conversation was how much the eco-experts actually gained from working in the BGT classroom. Discussing scientific research to a room of 10-11-year-olds posed an interesting challenge in and of itself, forcing them to pare back the jargon and plan a lesson that was both informative and engaging. But incorporating the tools of the theater trade—the warm-ups, the hands-on participation, the performative elements—served to ease the transition from the Ivory tower to the 5th-grade classroom, while fostering a more active + collaborative environment than a traditional lecture-based science class. Drawing these youngsters into a creative conversation about their relationship with the planet had the added benefit of providing further insights into how to grow the public discussion about these ecological concerns by talking about the science behind them in a productive and meaningful way.

I am still in complete awe of the resulting plays themselves—how they brought to life the spirit and unique perspective that can only manifest in the mind of a 5th-grader. From our role in climate change to our devastating impact on the planet’s long-standing ecological systems, environmental science is laden with hard truths that we as adults, so prone to guilt, often shy away from. So to see these young playwrights grappling with these ideas to create their own stories is incredibly inspiring. Rather than simply regurgitating facts, they have fashioned ecological concerns—from colony collapse disorder to water pollution—into tales of bees facing alien abduction and oysters hell-bent on revenge. But what’s more, they’ve infused their own distinctive voices, personalities, and preoccupations into the characters. In so doing, these students have managed to actually insert themselves into the environmental issues at hand, crafting stories that simultaneously reflect their relationship to the BGT’s eco-lesson and mirror their relationships with each other + their community.

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Many thanks again to Big Green Theater for inviting ArtLab into their incredible festival and sharing their insights + experiences with us. To learn more about their program, be sure to check out their official website here. And with that, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of the evening from BGT director Jeremy Pickard:

Really soon into it, the students realize that this program is about them. It’s not about us or the state curriculum; it’s about them. And that is connected to the way we talk about environmental information in the world. If we think that we should change our lives and our perspective for someone else, it’s not going to happen. But if it’s about us—if the story is about us—then change happens.

About Our Guests

pickardJeremy Pickard is the founder and captain of Superhero Clubhouse for which he has written and directed over a dozen productions including his signature series of ecology-inspired Planet Plays. In addition to acting as lead artist on Big Green Theater, Jeremy has collaborated with climate scientists to create site-specific performances at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a project commissioned by PositiveFeedback and Columbia University’s Earth Institute. In honor of Earth Month, he is currently documenting his April-long quest to not throw anything away, in a weekly eblast you can subscribe to here!

jacquetDr. Jennifer Jacquet is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU. She is an environmental scientist interested in human cooperation, with specific interests in overfishing and climate change. Her book about the evolution, function, and future of the use of social disapproval, Is Shame Necessary?, is due out in early 2015. She formerly wrote the Guilty Planet blog at Scientific American, and now contributes to This year, she spoke to BGT students about our impact on trophic cascades and marine food webs.

noel_allainNoel Joseph Allain is the Artistic Director + co-founder of The Bushwick Starr, an Obie Award winning non profit theater that presents an annual Season of new work in theater, dance, and puppetry. As Artistic Director of the Starr, he has presented over 50 companies in the last 5 years and served hundreds of artists. Noel created Big Green Theater with the Starr’s Executive Director Sue Kessler as part of the theater’s commitment to contributing to the local community’s environmental awareness through a creative and interactive process.

Dr. Katherine Alfredo is a Columbia University Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Katherine’s research interests center on drinking water issues in rural, developing areas of the world. She is currently working with Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center, on fluoride and arsenic drinking water issues in India. This year, she spoke to BGT students about international water problems like flooding and drought, and led the students in constructing homemade water filter on a budget of $5.

03.11.2014 // Music + the Mind

What music does the mind make? On March 11th, ArtLab tuned into the sound of synapses with Music + the Mind: a live music-infused experiment in neuroscience. The evening featured the Brainwave Music Project, which translates brain activity into electronic music—a project conceived by Columbia professors David Sulzer and Brad Garton.

Singer + multi-instrumentalist Lora Faye and jazz drummer William Hooker strapped on mind-reading EEG headbands to record the electrical impulses coursing through their brains, making music with their minds as they make music for the crowd. As they performed, they fed off neurofeedback, improvising to the beat of their neurons firing.

Rounding out the evening, ArtLab explored the art and neuroscience of making brainwave music through moderated discussion and active audience participation. For just a taste of the night’s conversation, enjoy the video below!

Very big thanks to Noemi Charlotte Thieves for filming the event, Josh Brechner for editing the audio, and Cameo Gallery for providing such an amazing venue.

about the guests

David Sulzer is Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center where he investigates how different parts of the brain communicate with each other. Sulzer doubles as a musician under the moniker Dave Soldier, whose work ranges from composing chamber operas in collaboration with Kurt Vonnegut to conducting a chorus of 14 elephants, known as the Thai Elephant Orchestra. [Learn more.]

Brad Garton is Director of the Computer Music Center at Columbia University where he models human musical performance on various virtual instruments, and has helped to establish computer music studios throughout the world. [Learn more.]

William Hooker’s body of uninterrupted work beginning in the mid-seventies defines him as one of the most important composers and players in jazz. As bandleader, Hooker has fielded ensembles in an incredibly diverse array of configurations. Each collaboration has brought a serious investigation of his compositional agenda and the science of the modern drum kit. As a player, Hooker has long been known for the persuasive power of his relationship with his instrument. His work is frequently grounded in a narrative context. Whether set against a silent film or anchored by a poetic theme, Hooker brings dramatic tension and human warmth to avant-garde jazz. [Learn more.]

Brooklyn native Lora Faye is a singer and multi-instrumentalist with a deep understanding of the power in the strange and idiosyncratic in American folk and rock traditions. Her songwriting and performance draws from such disparate sources as Gillian Welch and Jeff Buckley, Blind Willie Johnson and Anais Mitchell, Harry Smith and Andy Warhol. In 2012, Lora-Faye’s songwriting won her such accolades as the Grand Prize Award at NPR The Mountain Stage New Song Contest, Hudson Valley Songfest’s “Best New Artist,” and a winning slot at The New Jersey Folk Festival’s Songwriting Competition. [Learn more.]

The event was presented as part of Brain Awareness Week, which featured brain-themed events all across New York City.

12.10.2013 // Film + the Unconscious

On December 10th, ArtLab presented Film + the Unconscious: a conversation between cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Heather Berlin and filmmaker Alexandra Stergiou. Through moderated discussion and audience participation, the evening explored what happens in our brains as we watch our favorite films: how does film portray the way we think and dream? How can filmmakers appeal to the unconscious to strike a mood or evoke emotion? What is the neuroscience behind some of filmmaking’s oldest tricks?

Still craving more neuroscience insight? Enjoy this clip of Heather fielding a question from the audience about why filmmakers dream in film.

about the guests

Heather-Berlin-webHeather Berlin is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Using neuroimaging techniques, she explores the complex interactions of the human brain with the goal of improving treatment for impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness and unconscious processes. An avid science communicator, Heather has appeared as a featured scientist on the Discovery Channel’s Superhuman Showdown and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio, while sharing her work with live audiences at local events including the Secret Science Club and Lucid NYC.

4856_789965730189_4898480_nAlexandra Stergiou is a New York-based filmmaker. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she landed in Brooklyn where she worked at Vice as Associate Producer on the cult TV show, The Vice Guide to Everything. Serving as director and cinematographer on numerous productions, her films have screened across the U.S., being honored by the Columbus International Film and Video Festival (Chris Award for Humanities), New York University’s First Run Film Festival (Wasserman Finalist, Award for Achievement in Documentary, National Board of Review Student Award Nominee), and the Jesse Thompkins III Foundation (Emerging Storyteller Award).

Many thanks to The West for hosting Film + the Unconscious. Stay tuned for more events from ArtLab: The Series!

09.11.2013 // On Repeat

On September 11, 2013, ArtLab presented On Repeat: a unique look at the insight, perspective, and even pain that is borne out of repetition in the practice of art + science. The evening’s discussion featured Emily Dennis, a mosquito neurobiologist in Leslie Vosshall’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at The Rockefeller University, and Lauren Schleider, a Brooklyn-based visual artist whose work illustrates “the imagined landscapes of the inside of the body.”

To learn more about Lauren + her exploration of the body through her intricately + organically composed work, be sure to visit her webpage + Like on Facebook. And for more of Emily’s scientific musings, check out her pretty//cool articles on The Incubator // listen to The Incubator’s exciting podcast on engineering the first mutant mosquito // watch mosquitos in action on her YouTube channel.

On Repeat marked ArtLab’s first ever public event, which was made possible in large part by the much-appreciated support of BkSciArt–a Brooklyn-based organization working to provide a community space that celebrates the inter-relatedness of science + art, advancing the case for their reunion. Many thanks to the wonderful Rachel Broderick, co-founder // creative director of Brooklyn-based arts company Our Ladies, who co-moderated the evening’s discussion, and to our host: Over the Eight in Williamsburg.