Talking Heads' David Byrne Brings Neuroscience to an Art Gallery
Drew Altizer Photography

Talking Heads' David Byrne Brings Neuroscience to an Art Gallery


Just shy of a year at its new 20,000-square-foot Menlo Park digs, Pace Art + Technology has opened a second 4,000-square-foot space next door to house its latest exhibit featuring multi-talented artist David Byrne, the Talking Heads frontman, and tech investor Mala Gaonkar.

Introduced by their mutual friend Brian Eno, the pair bonded over their fascination with neuroscience and proceeded to devise a series of their own scientific experiments after visiting no less than 35 of the world's leading neuroscience research labs.

Exhibit masterminds Mala Gaonkar (left) and David Byrne.

Through the exhibit, titled The Institute Presents: Neurosociety, Byrne and Gaonkar explore themes of bias, decision-making and sensory perception, teasing out counterintuitive results that leave viewers quizzical long after the 80-minute show is over.

Beginning December 20, you can shrink to doll size (and back), accurately predict election outcomes based solely on facial appearance, and discover the strange ways in which your moral values may shift according to context. Fifteen actors in lab coats greet and guide visitors (no more than 10 at a time) through what Byrne and Gaonkar call their three-act "play." One room resembles a sleek sci-fi set, another recalls a T.V. game show, and another, a classroom, is replete with tablets and Cy Twombly-esque scribbles on the blackboard.

A room of the exhibit using virtual reality headsets to experiment with sensory perception.

"It's really a theatrical experience," says gallery director Elizabeth Sullivan. "And cross-generational as well," she continues. "People who aren't necessarily interested in art will still find it fascinating."

Pace Gallery's newest outpost at 350 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.

// "The Institute Presents: Neurosociety" runs through March 31, 2017; tickets are $45 per person and available at

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