Listen to the stars at the Arts & Science Showcase

Have you ever seen animal-shaped clouds in the sky? Or faces in nature? Ever wondered if you can listen to music created by the stars? The University of Birmingham’s Arts and Science Festival returns for the third year with the theme ‘Sight & Sound’; how what you see and hear affects the way your mind works and how we perceive the world around us.

The festival runs each year and celebrates the wide ranging areas of research undertaken at the University with a series of free performances, exhibitions, talks, and workshops.

Highlights of the programme include an examination of how our auditory and visual experiences impact on mental health, a walking ‘safari’ of the University campus looking for examples of Pareidolia, the psychological term for the brain’s tendency to detect faces in nature, and an exhibit at Ikon Gallery where visitors can listen to the sounds made by the stars.

Bill Chaplin, Professor of Astrophysics in the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy, has teamed up with artist Caroline Devine to create The Poetics of (Outer) Space, an exhibition at Ikon Gallery using data from the Kepler Mission. The installation explores the natural acoustic resonances of the stars and incorporates asteroseismological data from the University of Birmingham study. Asteroseismology is the process by which listening to the vibrations of the stars allows researchers to measure their mass, age and diameter.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is celebrating Birmingham’s links with the birth of celluloid in collaboration with FlatPack Film Festival. An afternoon of free screenings and activities highlights a history of cinema-going. From silent films accompanied by a pianist, to the impact of Bollywood in Birmingham, join the Barber on Sunday March 22 from 12pm until 4pm for a unique cinematic event.

Lisa Bortolotti, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, is running a session about auditory visual hallucinations: how they can help people to overcome traumatic events yet also be symptomatic of schizophrenia. She said: ‘We are surrounded by images and sounds, and these are usually a reliable guide to how the world is. But, on some occasions, we hear voices when nobody is around, and see things that are not there. What is the impact of these visual and auditory experiences on our mental health? As with all questions centred on how our mind works, this is a question that is best answered by psychologists and philosophers working together. This is a perfect example of the arts and sciences contributing to make progress on issues that deeply affect us on an everyday basis, as individuals and as a society.’

The festival takes place from 16-22 March 2015.


Notes to Editors

For further information about the Arts and Sciences Festival please visit the webpage.

For any media enquiries please contact Faye Jackson in the University of Birmingham Press Office on +44 (0)121 414 6029. For out of office enquiries please contact the duty press officer on +44 (0)7789921165.