Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Deception" (another really fine hour of radio from Radiolab)

As I've mentioned before, I am a passionate fan of WNYC's Radiolab. I once recommended the "Where Am I?" episode, which included a segment about a man who lost the ability to sense the location of his body parts.

May I now recommend "Deception," another episode that might interest those interested in dance notation. The "Catching Liars" segment of "Deception" includes an interview with Paul Ekman, a psychologist (a very influential one, to boot) who devised the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), a "muscular scoring system" for describing facial behaviors and expressions.

A bit more, from the FACS website:

A FACS coder "dissects" an observed expression, decomposing it into the specific AUs that produced the movement. The scores for a facial expression consist of the list of AUs that produced it. Duration, intensity, and asymmetry can also be recorded.
Not entirely unlike a notator's work!

Anyway, Radiolab presents all of this in a really fascinating way. The rest of the episode's segments have nothing to do with notation, but if you have a few free minutes they too are well worth listening to.

(If you prefer reading to listening, here's a summary of a New Yorker article about Paul Ekman's work.)

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