Becky Valls is racing an unseen enemy, trench coat and bare feet adding to the sense of urgency. Music by Ravi Shankar drives an almost unbearable tension as she runs, swoops and dives through a small space on the Jose Quintero Theatre stage, lights flickering in keeping with the shifting brainwaves projected as a backdrop.
University of Houston neuroscientist and engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal is working with Valls, associate professor of dance, to produce what Contreras-Vidal calls "a brain-computer interface in service of the arts," part of an ongoing project to study how creativity affects the brain.
Contreras-Vidal will discuss the work at noon on Feb. 25 at the Blaffer Art Museum on the UH campus, talking about "Your Brain on Art: Understanding the Brain in Creative Action and Context."
At noon on Feb. 27, Valls and Contreras-Vidal will lead a demonstration with Valls performing her composition Red Square, wearing a skullcap embedded with electrodes to track her brainwaves and allow her to control the stage lights in the Quintero Theatre, also on the UH campus.
Both events are free and open to the public, although reservations are required.
The talk and dance are part of the Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series, a slate of public programs developed by the museum in conjunction with the exhibition Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown, which deals with memory loss and the role of memory in forming identity and is on view through March 21.