“Mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology”
— Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, neuroscientist
Mirror neurons represent a distinctive class of cells that fire both when an animal executes an action and when it observes another individual performing the same action. Discovered by Italian neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti and his team at the University of Parma while doing a research on the neural representation of motor movements in monkeys, the precise function and influence of these neurons has become one of the most important topic in neuroscience. They have been linked to many behaviours and abilities, from empathy to learning by imitation and language acquisition, as well as implicated in conditions such as autism and other brain disorders. These findings suggest that the mirror neuron system plays a key role in our ability to experience empathy.
Initiated by sound artists France Jobin and Fabio Perletta, Mirror Neurons is a media-project investigating the notion of empathy and physical distance. The entire album is the result of extended sound files exchange between Montréal (Canada) and Roseto degli Abruzzi (Italy). Each of the pieces is based on rough sounds and their consequent re-working, listening and reaction, processing and imitation. The ongoing process helped the artists to draw inspiration in terms of stimuli for the act of composing itself in two very distant cities, different climate, time zones and languages.
Like much of Jobin and Perletta’s recent works, Mirror Neurons explores the artists’ interest in intersection between science and art, as well as the infinitely small and invisible. In order to further develop the concept of distance/connectivity, visual artists XX+XY from Rome have been involved in the process. They created a multi-dimensional, generative and ever-changing sound visualization through the use of quiet textures and subtle movements emphasizing the slowed sense of time of the work itself. Thought to be performed live in a big space, the video aims to create an immersive environment and a unique occasion to reflect about the behaviour of our emotions and the importance of human interaction.