If you thought the Simons Center was only for geometry and physics, think again. The Simons Center for Geometry and Physics  (SCGP) introduced its new gallery art show Nov. 29 2011 entitled “How Thinks Work.”

The show, curated by Nina Douglas, the Director of the SCGP Art and Science Program, uses art to portray ways the brain works. Each piece focuses on different forms of perception, from mathematical to philosophical ways of thinking.

“It is centered around thinking, and how we perceive the world of knowledge,” Douglas said.

Students who have seen the show enjoyed how the pieces made them think. “I went opening night.  It was really great,” Sheena Rubino, a graduate student in journalism, said.

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The exhibition features works of art from different mediums such as sculpture, drawing and visual media.

“The most famous work of art is Kiki Smith’s ‘Black Apples’,” Douglas explained. The concept of the piece focuses on the apples representing knowledge. The apples are black, and some are chewed up. Smith uses the apples as symbolism for how knowledge can be poisonous and harmful to our minds.

Another well-known piece in the gallery is Helaman Ferguson’s “Double Torus Stonehenge.” The work of art displays a mathematical transformation through the form of bronze sculpture. The sculpture is placed on top of a table, so the audience can see the transformation. “It’s sort of like old-fashioned animation,” Douglas said.

Douglas also contributed to the gallery along with her group The Houdini Collective. Consisting of professors and students, The Houdini Collective created the piece titled “The Magic Boxes.”

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Multicolored boxes are placed on the floor. The idea is that each person has a box with a beetle inside, but can only open his or her own box. Everyone has his or her own idea of what the beetle looks like, but it differs from the next person. “If I say beetle, and you say beetle, there is no way to know if my beetle is like your beetle,” Douglas explained.

Not only are there sculptures, but there is video that plays with the concept of perception.

“It does something to you when you watch it,” Douglas laughed. The three monitors show different videos that leave the mind perplexed and unable to explain what it experienced.  “Come watch the videos; they cannot be retold in words,” Douglas said.

There are several other works of art in the show that portray science. Each artist brings something original to the show. “I picked these artists because they do work connecting art and science in a meaningful way, that can be exhibited on campus. We can all learn from that,” Douglas said.

“How Thinks Work” is located on the first floor of the SCGP building, and is open to the public from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday Through Friday. The show will be at Stony Brook until March 1, 2012.“If we just accept the world as it is, then it’s not interesting.” explained Douglas.  “I hope the people will enjoy it. If people see it and enjoy it, that’s what we want.”

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