CNMN > Projects > Piece of Mind — “Give us a hand” Participatory Art-Sci Video

Naila Kuhlmann, Rebecca Barnstaple, Louise Campbell

  • Open (def: scores for unspecified instrumentation)
  • Found objects or art supplies
  • Voice
  • 13 to 18 years of age
  • Adults
  • Seniors

Main activity : 30 min - 1 hour

  • Education
  • Community associations
  • Neuroscience and health sciences, science communication
  • Health
  • Family
  • Physical disabilities (e.g. Cerebral Palsy, Rett
  • Parkinson’s disease

Piece of Mind — “Give us a hand” Participatory Art-Sci Video


Piece of Mind uses the per­form­ing arts to syn­the­size and trans­late knowl­edge about Parkinson’s dis­ease (PD) and demen­tia. Our par­tic­i­pa­to­ry research-cre­ation project brings togeth­er artists (cir­cus per­form­ers, dancers, musi­cians, visu­al artists), researchers, indi­vid­u­als liv­ing with PD or demen­tia, and care­givers to co-cre­ate artis­tic works based on sci­en­tif­ic research and lived expe­ri­ence. The over­all goals are:

1) to facil­i­tate knowl­edge cre­ation and exchange between the seem­ing­ly dis­parate com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cre­ative process ; and

2) to cre­ate per­for­mances that can engage a wide audi­ence on both an emo­tion­al and intel­lec­tu­al lev­el, and spark mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions around PD and dementia.

We use an emer­gent and iter­a­tive process to iden­ti­fy the key themes and mes­sages to com­mu­ni­cate in our per­for­mances, and to ensure that mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives are incor­po­rat­ed along the way. Our research process has includ­ed numer­ous vir­tu­al work­shops, facil­i­tat­ed dis­cus­sions, and movement/music ses­sions to build rela­tion­ships and explore both sci­en­tif­ic and lived expe­ri­ence knowl­edge through cre­ativ­i­ty and embod­i­ment. Rather than present a sum­ma­ry of the var­i­ous activ­i­ties we’ve under­tak­en, we’d like to share two exam­ples* that could eas­i­ly be applied in dif­fer­ent contexts.

*You can find our oth­er exam­ple here:

ACTIVITY: cre­at­ing a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry sound­track to an art-sci­ence video.

GOAL: the pur­pose of this activ­i­ty is to facil­i­tate con­ver­sa­tion and under­stand­ing of PD research by hav­ing par­tic­i­pants inter­act direct­ly with an “art-sci­ence” video and one anoth­er. Specif­i­cal­ly, par­tic­i­pants cre­at­ed a sound­track togeth­er through col­lec­tive vocal impro­vi­sa­tion for a short video illus­trat­ing the impor­tance of com­mu­ni­ty sup­port and move­ment for peo­ple with Parkinson’s disease.

WHERE: via Zoom (or a sim­i­lar vir­tu­al plat­form) or in person

PARTICIPANTS: in our project, the par­tic­i­pants were researchers, per­form­ing artists and peo­ple liv­ing with Parkinson’s dis­ease. The process can eas­i­ly be adapt­ed to oth­er tar­get audiences.

GROUP SIZE: the more the mer­ri­er — but also the more chaot­ic your result­ing sound­track! We sug­gest a max­i­mum of 10 participants.


Step 1 – cre­ate a short video on your top­ic of inter­est, or use our linked video with the sound on mute.

In our case, two researchers study­ing Parkinson’s dis­ease (Rebec­ca Barn­sta­ple, Joe DeS­ouza) and a cir­cus per­former (Jérémie Robert) col­lab­o­rat­ed to cre­ate this silent video sketch based on the researcher’s find­ings about the ther­a­peu­tic poten­tial of com­mu­ni­ty sup­port, move­ment and music. While the ‘fin­ger acro­bat’ was very quick and easy to film (and con­veys a sur­pris­ing amount of emo­tion!), you could also film a dance, move­ment impro­vi­sa­tion, dra­mat­ic sce­nario, or what­ev­er else you wish!

Step 2 – Co-cre­ate a sound­track (30 min – 1 hr)

  • Present the video to the par­tic­i­pants. You can choose whether to share the sci­en­tif­ic con­text behind the video right away, or let this come out in dis­cus­sion afterwards.

  • Invite par­tic­i­pants to unmute them­selves (if done vir­tu­al­ly) and to make the sounds they feel should accom­pa­ny the fin­ger tightrope walk­er. This can be done using voice, snap­ping, clap­ping, using found objects, etc.

  • To avoid a cacoph­o­ny (unless that’s what you’re going for!), encour­age par­tic­i­pants to lis­ten and respond to one anoth­er, or lim­it the num­ber of peo­ple mak­ing sounds at any one time.

  • We sug­gest going through the video sev­er­al times, try­ing out dif­fer­ent ideas each time. For instance, in our video, we tried mak­ing sound effects that were the oppo­site of our first reac­tion to the fin­ger acro­bat, which was quite an inter­est­ing experience!

  • If you plan to record and edit the results into a sound­track, con­sid­er hav­ing only one or two peo­ple par­tic­i­pate at once. This will make it eas­i­er to put every­thing togeth­er afterwards.

Step 3 – edit­ing (option­al)

If you would like to com­pile a sound­track for your video from the audio record­ings of your par­tic­i­pa­to­ry ses­sion, upload every­thing into your edit­ing soft­ware of choice. You can play around with how to com­bine the dif­fer­ent sound­tracks for the final piece — you could even do this part as a group.

In this clip from our Zoom ses­sion, musi­cian Louise Camp­bell guides us through an exer­cise in which we pro­vide sound effects for the “fin­ger acro­bat”. We show two ver­sions, one in which we respond­ed with the sounds we attribute to the emo­tions expressed in the video, and the sec­ond one in which we played with the per­cep­tion of the video by chang­ing the sounds we pro­vid­ed for the fin­ger acrobat.

Hand: Jere­mie Robert
Researchers: Rebec­ca Barn­sta­ple & Joe DeSouza
Sound: Mem­bers of the Piece of Mind Collective
Video Edit: Rebec­ca Barnstaple
Sound Edit: Louise Campbell

Accom­pa­ny­ing text by Rebecca:
Music and dance are increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar in pro­grams for peo­ple liv­ing with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s dis­ease, pro­vid­ing sup­port for move­ment, social con­nec­tions, and a place to express and con­nect with oth­ers. Links between sound and music are ancient, and dance can be thought of as “sound-made-vis­i­ble”. Rhythm and melody inter­act with the audi­to­ry cor­tex and motor plan­ning areas of the brain, and music can inform and trig­ger how and when we move — lead­ing to flu­id­i­ty, syn­chrony, and greater range of motion. This piece express­es how the envi­ron­ment of a dance class, replete with music, imagery, and social con­nec­tions, can lead to the expe­ri­ence of mov­ing as a “dancer”, capa­ble of strong and grace­ful move­ments that tran­scend the ordinary.

* Please con­tact Naila at if you’d like to learn more about this project! *

Read More +


Image Gallery