26 April - 13 June 2017

Major events: April 29, May 28, and June 3
18th Street Arts Center and Public Spaces throughout Santa Monica

Following a thrilling year in SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence Program, Nina Waisman has brought her Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences (LEI) to The 18th Street Arts Center. She is joined by founding member and movement expert Flora Wiegmann.

In Spring of 2017, LEI will be offering site-specific performances, along with workshops that offer perspective-shifting meditations and embodiment exercises to the public. Both activities aim to make physically palpable LEI’s ongoing discoveries around the following questions: How can humans “try on” non-human behaviors in order to perceive them viscerally, gaining knowledge unavailable through classic data analysis? What can we learn from the highly successful behaviors and communication methods our microbial colleagues and ancestors employ? How do animal and human logics and languages compare to microbial behaviors?

We evolved from microbes, but only recently did we learn that “all mobile unicellular organisms possess the fundamental characteristics of nervous systems” (Dr. Lori Marino). Perhaps fundamental cognitive capacities and “modes of reason” we think unique to humans belong in some form to microbes. We know that they communicate – in fact, they are multi-lingual. They have survived and communicated with each other over 3.5 billion years. Surely there are a few things we can learn from cultures exponentially more long-lived and adapted than we are? Looking into the future, astrobiologists agree that microbes are the most likely form of life we will encounter out in the cosmos. Can our terrestrial bacteria help us communicate with or understand these extraterrestrials?

Through performances, along with science-driven meditations and movement exercises, LEI seeks to give us access to some of the vast treasure of behaviors and communication techniques invented and enacted by microbes. Cognitive scientists have found that to exercise a new behavior is to open the mind to a whole new suite of logics.

Nina Waisman’s residency and its associated collaborative public events and performances are made possible with generous funding from the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Department, the California Arts Council, and The James Irvine Foundation.

Collaborators and Performers with the Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences: Vanessa Baish, Jonathan Bryant, Alfonso Cervera, Hyosun Choi, Hyoin Jun, Nehara Kalev, Murphia Moore, Jasmine Orpilla, Gabriela Simon, Juliana Snapper, Micaela Taylor, Flora Wiegmann, Miles Brenninkmeijer, Natali Micciche

Upcoming Events

Performance on Santa Monica Beach

Sunday, May 28th // 4-5PM

Santa Monica Beach
Meet at the cannon in Palisades Park across from 1415 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica

The Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences will be offering a free public performance on the Santa Monica beach cliff this Memorial Day weekend – join them on your way coming or going to the beach. Meet at the cannon monument in the Palisades Park, right across the street from the Georgian Hotel (1415 Ocean Ave). Picnic reception and dialogue to follow the 30 minute performance.

Performance in Santa Monica Public Space

Saturday, June 3rd // 4-5PM

Downtown Santa Monica
Location TBD

The Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences will be offering a free public performance in Santa Monica the first weekend in June –join them on your way coming or going to the beach. Exact Location TBD, but it will be in Downtown Santa Monica. LEI will be offering performances and participatory events in public spaces throughout Santa Monica in May and June.

Past Events

Move like a Microbe

Saturday, April 29th // 3-4PM

18th Street Arts Center Main Gallery

Learn about exo-biology while you move your body like a microbe! Join in this participatory, family-friendly workshop with dance-based artist Nina Waisman and her collaborators at the Laboratory for Embodied Intelligence.

Intermittent Performances

Saturday, April 29th // 2-5PM

18th Street Arts Center, Main Gallery

Members of the Laboratory of Embodied Intelligences will be performing movements throughout campus during the Spring Pico Block Party event.

Laboratory of Embodied Intelligences: Dialogue with the Public

Saturday, April 29th // 1-2PM

18th Street Arts Center Main Gallery

What can we learn from our highly successful microbial planet-mates, and can movement help us do that? Featuring Moh El-Naggar, the USC Robert D. Beyer Early Career Chair in Natural Sciences, working at the forefront of bacterial communication; Fathi Karouia, Senior Research Scientist at NASA, working with microbial behaviors on the space station, in our guts and elsewhere; Christina M. Ford, MD, whose practice focuses on Integrative Psychiatry & Wellness; Anuradha Vikram, Artist Director of 18th Street Arts, a writer, curator, educator, whose research focus is transnational futurism; LEI Founder and Artistic Director, Nina Waisman; and LEI Movement Expert Flora Wiegmann.

18th Street Arts Center, 1639 18th St, Santa Monica, California
office [at] 18thstreet [dot] org

Related Link:

Nina Waisman is an UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts MFA Alumna. For more about her work, please visit:

Image Credit:
Nina Waisman, The Laboratory for Embodied Intelligences, 2017.
Photo is courtesy of Artist Nina Waisman and The 18th Street Arts Center.