Speak Your Mind: Language and the Brain

Our Brain & Mind event series continues with a presentation of the medical and historical links between linguistics and neuroscience. Plus a performance of sound poetry from Vincent Barras and Jacques Demierre using the fundamental building blocks of speech.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


April 28, 2011 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

swissnex San Francisco continues the Brain & Mind event series with a look at the ties between language and the mind. Professor Vincent Barras, in the faculty of medicine and biology at the University of Lausanne (UNIL), presents the relationship between linguistics and neuroscience from a historical perspective, followed by a live performance of “sound poetry” with Geneva-based musician and improviser, Jacques Demierre.

Barras is director of UNIL’s Institute of Medical and Public Health History, where he leads an “Art and Science” doctoral program supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. His presentation at swissnex San Francisco highlights how brain and language research have worked together throughout the history of science.

Barras and Demierre create sound poetry in a performance of sounds inspired by the fundamental building blocks of human speech and drawing on the work of linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Barras and Demierre have published several records of their sound poetry and were recently the subject of Voicing Through Saussure, Jacques Demierre et Vincent Barras, a film by Véronique Goël (2009).

With support from the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  introductory remarks
7:15 pm  presentation from Vincent Barras
8:15 pm  performance by Vincent Barras and Jacques Demierre
9:15 pm  reception and networking
10:00 pm  doors close


Vincent Barras

Geneva born Vincent Barras (b, 1956) is a performer, historian, and translator. He teaches medical history at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) as well as the history and anthropology of sound at the Geneva University of Art and Design. Barras runs the Institute of Medical and Public Health History (Institut universitaire d’histoire de la médecine et de la santé publique) at UNIL and is a board member of Contrechamps Editions in Geneva. He curates sound poetry and art-language festivals, including La Bâtie Festival and Roaratorio in Geneva, and has published books, essays, and articles on body theory, medicine and psychiatry, contemporary poetry, and music in addition to translating works by Galen, Edoardo Sanguineti, Theodor Adorno, Carl Dahlhaus, Georges Seferis, John Cage, Eugen Gomringer, Simon Cutts, and Robert Lax.


Jacques Demierre

Jacques Demierre was born in 1954 and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a pianist, performer, and composer involved in improvisation, contemporary music, sound poetry, and sound installation. His compositions and sound works are concerned with the activity of listening and with the relationship between sound and space. In his interdisciplinary projects, Demierre regularly collaborates with well-known protagonists of improvised music including Barre Philips, Urs Leimgruber, Thomas Lehn, Joëlle Léandre, Axel Dörner, Fritz Hauser, Sainkho Namtchylak, Hans Koch, Jason Kahn, Butch Morris, and Phil Minton to name but a few.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos