Brian Felsen: Philosophy of mind, cognitive science, consciousness studies
in which the experience of consciousness emerges from the clamor of competing voices within the parliamentary chamber of the mind. Through the use of text (as in the play Conducting Elif), visuals (the art photography exhibit Twenty-three Problems of Phenomenology, and flexible polyphonic musical structures (in the oratorio View from the Strangers' Gallery and the song-cycle The Court Gossip, first premiered at ASCI's ArtSci2001 Symposium on Collaboration), the piece illustrates (as words alone cannot) the multi-layered complexity of processing systems in the brain and the significance of recursive structures. The work also provides an allegory of recent attempts by cognitive scientists (especially Dennett and Humphrey) to provide a post-dualist foundation for a first-person phenomenology and the emergence of the self.
"Six Problems of Phenomenology," digital photography, 20x30," 2003
Brian Felsen is an award-winning pianist and graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1993 he created and ran the Philadelphia Music Conference, an international music festival, working with many gold-record-selling artists such as Lisa Loeb, The Nixons, Phil Spector, and Nirvana, and is credited with discovering several major-label recording artists.
After selling the business in 1997 and studying at the Mannes School of Music in NYC, he began work on musically representing themes of cognitive science and consciousness studies. He wrote an oratorio, View from the Strangers' Gallery, in 2000; two song-cycles, Great Expectations and The Court Gossip, in 2001; and a play, Conducting Elif, in 2002. He is currently working on an art photography exhibit.
Other projects include producing a documentary film about the Turkish military interventions and coups d'etat, COUP, which received the NY Council on the Arts/ETVS' highest grant award for 1999, and a CD of art songs by gay composers of the 19th and 20th centuries, Songs from the Age of the Closet, performed by the opera singer Elif Savas.
He lives in New York and Istanbul with his wife and two cats.