Um espaço para partilha de ideias relacionadas com as práticas artísticas
e os seus efeitos terapêuticos, com destaque para a vertente musical

domingo, 28 de novembro de 2010

Oliver Sacks: “the poet laureate of medicine”

This post has written in honor of Oliver Sacks, an eminent neurologist, who wrote: “The power of music to integrate and cure … is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest non-chemical medication.”

Sacks's work helped provide the foundation on which the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) is built. In 2000, IMNF honored Sacks with its first Music Has Power Award. The IMNF again bestowed a Music Has Power Award on Sacks in 2006 to commemorate his 40 years at Beth Abraham and honor his outstanding contributions in support of music therapy and the effect of music on the human brain and mind.


Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London, England, into a family of physicians and scientists (his mother was a surgeon and his father a general practitioner). He earned his medical degree at Oxford University (Queen’s College), and did residencies and fellowship work at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco and at UCLA. Since 1965, he has lived in New York, where he is a practicing neurologist. In July of 2007, he was appointed Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and he was also designated the university’s first Columbia University Artist.

In 1966 Dr. Sacks began working as a consulting neurologist for Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, a chronic care hospital where he encountered an extraordinary group of patients, many of whom had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues, unable to initiate movement. He recognized these patients as survivors of the great pandemic of sleepy sickness that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-dopa, which enabled them to come back to life. They became the subjects of his book Awakenings, which later inspired a play by Harold Pinter (“A Kind of Alaska”) and the Oscar-nominated feature film (“Awakenings”) with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.

Sacks is perhaps best known for his collections of case histories from the far borderlands of neurological experience, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, in which he describes patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to autism, parkinsonism, musical hallucination, epilepsy, phantom limb syndrome, schizophrenia, retardation, and Alzheimer’s disease. He has investigated the world of Deaf people and sign language in Seeing Voices, and a rare community of colorblind people in The Island of the Colorblind. He has written about his experiences as a doctor in Migraine and as a patient in A Leg to Stand On. His autobiographical Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood was published in 2001, and his most recent books are Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007) and The Mind’s Eye (2010).

Sacks’s work, which has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, regularly appears in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, as well as various medical journals. The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and in 2002 he was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet.
He is an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Information borrowed in


"Musicophillia" investigates the power of music to move us, to heal and to haunt us. It's a New York Times bestseller, and has been named one of the Best Books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the editors
Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience.

In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people–from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds–for everything but music.

Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s or amnesia.
Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.

Information borrowed in

Oliver Sacks' existence is undoubtedly a great privilege to mankind.

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quinta-feira, 11 de novembro de 2010

"Arte" e "Ciência" escritas na mesma linha?

"Gosto muito de Ciência e custa-me pensar que tantos temam o assunto ou sintam que optar pela ciência significa não poder escolher a compaixão ou as artes, ou não ficar maravilhado com a Natureza. A ciência não tem o propósito de nos curar do mistério, mas reinventá-lo e revigorá-lo."
Robert Sapolsky, Why zebras don't get ulcers, p.12

Com este excerto começa uma das sugestões de leitura que disponibilizei à direita desta página, "Uma paixão Humana - o seu cérebro e a música", de Daniel J. Levitin. O autor aborda a dada altura a dicotomia Arte-Ciência:
"(...) Os trabalhos dos artistas e dos cientistas envolvem fases de desenvolvimento similares: uma fase brainstorm criativa e exploratória, seguida pelas fases de teste e aprimoramento que envolvem naturalmente a aplicação de um conjunto de procedimentos, apesar de, muitas vezes, serem inspiradas por soluções de problemas adicionais e criativas.
Os estúdios dos artistas e os laboratórios dos cientistas são também semelhantes: decorre ao mesmo tempo um vasto número de projectos em diversas fases de acabamento. Ambos requerem ferramentas especializadas e os resultados são (...) susceptíveis de diferentes interpretações. Os artistas e os cientistas têm em comum a capacidade de viverem num estado permeável à interpretação e reinterpretação dos produtos do seu trabalho."

O artista, seja qual for o campo da sua criação (literatura, teatro, dança, artes plásticas, fotografia, cinema, etc.), recorre à imaginação para criar a sua arte.

Mas também o conhecimento de que é feita a ciência resulta, inquestionavelmente, de um exercício da imaginação.

No entanto, o senso comum associa o conhecimento à ciência e a imaginação à arte, acreditando que a imaginação é estranha à ciência.

Deve-se a Albert Einstein, cientista que defendeu a teoria da relatividade, a frase: “O conhecimento permite-nos ir de A para B, mas a imaginação permite-nos ir a qualquer lado”. Afirmou também:Sou suficientemente artista para me deixar levar pela imaginação”. E assim se criou um dos maiores cientistas dos últimos tempos...

Não separemos duas entidades indissociáveis.
Façamos ciência através da arte e arte a partir da ciência :)

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quarta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2010

AudioCubes by Percussa

Touring the social network Linkedin, I had the pleasure of discovering the latest technology for those who enjoy exploring the music production world. Obviously, it is intended for people who like to challenge their creativity :) Take a look!

The information below was borrowed from

"The AudioCubes are a platform for audio-visual creation and exploration.

What are they?
They are a collection of beautifully designed and hand-made objects, each containing its own self-powered wireless computer system.The objects are intelligent and can detect and interact with each other, with humans and computer software, providing visual feedback at the same time.They come with software that lets you create and explore sound, music and visuals through hands-on interaction,whether it be in the studio, in live performances or in art installations.

How do they work?
Each AudioCube is identical. You connect them with a USB cable to your computer, one after the other, and assign a colour and behaviour. After that, they work wirelessly with each other, and use their four onboard infrared sensors to
communicate and measure distances to objects nearby. One cube stays connected, to pass the information from the cubes to the software on your computer.Location, orientation and distance information is passed to the software, while you interact with the cubes.
The software can connect via MIDI or OpenSoundControl (OSC) to any software or hardware for music or visuals which you already have, or you can use it within your DAW (digital audio workstation) software as a VST plugin, or as a host for VST instruments to let you create sound immediately.

There is no limit on the number of AudioCubes you can use, the placement or configuration of the cubes or how you use them. For example, you could create a large setup of 16 cubes for an art installation or a live performance.

If you want, you can even use our software development kit for AudioCubes and communicate with the hardware seamlessly from within your own software or Max/MSP.
These possibilities for interaction can stimulate and empower artists to create new and unique work, whether it be in the studio, in live performances or in art installations.
Such an interface is called a Tangible Interface, and because there were none available that worked without complicated setup and were portable and affordable, PERCUSSA decided to create AudioCubes."

More info here