Ideasthesia: A Multisensory Installation by Owen Brown


“How do ideas feel?” This is the question driving Danko Nikolic, the neuroscientist famous for theorizing “ideasthesia”—the notion that thoughts and sensations are interconnected and interdependent. Sights, sounds, and smells are not simply interpreted by the brain; rather, the ways in which we experience these stimuli are informed by our understanding of the world. In this special pop-up exhibition, San Francisco artist Owen Brown explores the complexity of perception with a multi-sensory, interactive installation.

At each of the four sensory stations that will fill the space of SOMArts’ expansive Bay Gallery, viewers will find an overhead projector with four transparencies, which they can flip, stack, layer, and rearrange to create an endless variation of unique projections on the gallery walls. Featuring delicate but lively biomorphic forms that come alive at the viewer’s touch, the transparencies are evocative of a slide one might find under a microscope. These images will be paired with the unique fragrance accords of local perfume maker MIKMOI and set against the sonic background of an interactive soundtrack comprised of visitors’ recorded comments (edited daily by poet Emily Wolahan).

Conceived by Brown as a fundraising exhibition in support of the nonprofit Meridian Gallery, Ideasthesia is a celebration of tenacity and new beginnings. A mainstay in the San Francisco art world since its establishment in 1989 by Anne Brodzky, Meridian Gallery was uprooted from its longtime home in the fall of 2014, but has continued to operate its thriving music and youth arts education programs from an office in the Presidio’s Thoreau Center for Sustainability. 100% of the proceeds of the exhibition will be used to fund Meridian Gallery and its various programs (including the Meridian Interns Program, Meridian Music: Composers in Performance, and MERIDIAN STUDIO VISITS online) as the organization works to establish a new, permanent home.

An Evening with MIKMOI
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
$15 suggested donation

Local award-winning perfumer Michael “Mik” Coyle brings the worldly and romantic sensibility of his artisanal fragrance line, MIKMOI, to Ideasthesia with five unique personal scent accords inspired by Owen Brown’s distinctive imagery. Discover the art of perfumery as Mik shares his inspiration and creative process as Brown’s collaborator. All five MIKMOI perfumes featured in Ideasthesia will be available for purchase. 50% of proceeds support Meridian Gallery.

This pop-up exhibition is supported by the SOMArts Cultural Center’s Affordable Space Program, which provides subsidized, large-scale affordable space and technical assistance to nonprofits. Learn more about SOMArts’ rentals here.

Image: North 3, artist Owen Brown, 2013, 9” x 12”, colored pencil on vellum