The Perception Project is a series of talks and performances centering around the concept of perception, offering audiences opportunities to challenge what they know about the senses.
Several professors have already spoken on their subjects, ranging from philosophy to creative media. The project was conceived by Professor Brendon Caldwell of the music department. He wanted to make the audience examine their habits of perception and how it influences performances.
“I think it was in first grade that I first questioned perception,” Caldwell said. “I wanted to create a project that might change someone’s life.”
A few special guests visited the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point earlier this year including Dame Evelyn Glennie, a deaf percussionist, and Brenda Bufalino, a tap dancer.
Caldwell invited professors to participate in the challenge to question perception. One was Dona Warren, a professor of philosophy.
Her presentation titled, “Doing Philosophy, Telling Stories, And…” was about analyzing perception with philosophical ideals. In her lecture, she took us through perceptions of reality and how they might be skewed.
“To be is to be perceived,” was the text on the first slide, a translation of a famous quote from George Berkeley.
She posed a question to the audience – can we really trust our senses?
“We could be hallucinating all of this. Reality could be all in our heads,” Warren said.
She challenged the audience, asking questions and receiving answers about why we may or may not be hallucinating our entire world.
“By perceiving something, we give it value,” Warren said. “We do this through telling stories. We are our own Perception Project.”
Another professor lecturing is Alex Ingersoll of the communication department. His presentation is Thursday, April 10 and is titled, “Vague Space/Time and the Brothers Quay.”
He will analyze the works of the identical twin Quay brothers, a pair of stop-motion animators. The brothers were born in Philadelphia but were raised in London where they started making films. Their films are known for being spooky, quirky and surreal.
Ingersoll will focus on three of the Quay animations, ‘The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer,” “Street of Crocodiles,” and “Nocturna Artificialia.” These stop-motion animations are made mostly with puppets.
“Media has a big effect on how we perceive time and space,” Ingersoll said. “It effects how we connect and communicate.”
He will analyze the way the Quay brothers structure time and space in their animations and how this skews our perception.
The audience does not need any prior knowledge of the Quay brothers to participate in Ingersoll’s lecture.
“We’re going to explore them together,” Ingersoll said. “The most important thing about them is that they raise more questions than answers.”
The lecture will focus on connecting history and theory and applying them to the animations.
“Plus they’re awesome,” Ingersoll said. “There’s a certain kind of magic in it.”
The Perception Project is all about changing the way the world is viewed.
“Even if you go deaf, you can listen,” Caldwell said. “Listening and hearing are not the same thing. Perceptions are always shifting, and the essence of education is about examining our habits of perception. Learning is having our perception jolted. It is a change in the way you see the world.”
More events from The Perception Project are happening throughout the semester. A full list of performances and talks can be found on the COFAC webpage.