Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Saturday, 03 August 2013 00:00
The brain, just like the muscles in your arms and legs, can profit from exercise. With that in mind, artist Alli Berman has created an interactive brain-fitness art installation at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
On both July 31 and Aug. 9, Berman will be at the Atrium for eight hours, using time-lapse photography techniques for her new “Connect to Creativity—A Social Practice Art” project. The public is invited to attend and become part of the work. The artist will be available to answer questions and lead people in her “couch-potato-easy” cognitive calisthenics to improve memory and focus.
Berman suffered a CVA (stroke) almost 25 years ago, which fueled her interest in the brain and the healing power of art. She worked with behavioral optometrist Dr. Susan Fisher, and consulted with a range of experts to create the first vision and cognitive therapy system with fine art at its core.
Health professionals in 16 countries use Berman’s work to help people develop cognitive function, oculomotor skills (eye-hand coordination), and perceptual learning ability. As a result of her own brain trauma and recovery, Berman is one of her own patients; she does the eye-hand training for two to three minutes every day.
At Tilles Center, the current interactive display features 700 feet of pathways fabricated out of 24 different materials, including Astroturf, holographic discs and Spandex. A series of poster-sized puzzles along one wall of the Atrium invite visitors to use their eyes and fingers to trace patterns in a sequence of exercises that can increase brain health.
Only a few weeks remain to experience the exhibit; it all comes down on Monday, Aug. 26.
Berman’s interactive movable PuzzleArt is on view at museums around the world. She installed a dozen puzzles in a New York hospital, where doctors and nurses use them as much as patients. Nowadays, just about everyone is becoming aware of the benefits of brain fitness.
“It’s also good for sports therapy,” Berman said. “Their mantra is ‘always keep your eye on the ball,’ and PuzzleArt trains the eye.”
At the Tilles Center, there are examples of her puzzles on the wall and on the ceiling. You see swirly shapes and pathways of painted puzzles ,simplified in line, color and shape.
There are interactive pieces with instructions on the wall. The viewer/participant can lift off Velcro-attached wooden pieces and move them around to re-create the original design, a traditional image; or move them around to follow a circle or a certain line in the design to create a non-traditional work. This exercise can improve cognition deficits. Ceiling pieces have instructions mounted on a column, enabling a “hands-on experience without actually touching anything.”
“Brain fitness pathways help improve 20 aspects of brain-fitness,” Berman explained. “As we age, we lose memory, focus and eye-hand coordination. By using PuzzleArt, you can work to improve them.”
This project was partially funded by the eighth Art Under Glass Award from the Artists Group, founded by Debra Ann Kasimakis and Robert Goidain a collaboration with Tilles Center, and a JP Morgan Chase grant, administered by the Huntington Arts Council. The installation is a public complement to the PuzzleArt Therapy System.
The Tilles Center at the LIU Post campus, 720 Northern Blvd. Brookville, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and later on performance nights. PuzzleArt Pathways will be succeeded by Sea Change, an underwater installation by Sally Shore and Barbara Karyo opening on Sept. 4.