If failure frees the ego then what does success do? At the second sold out Mindshare LA last Thursday, the answer to that question was "stimulate the senses" as the event grows into its unprecedented popularity. In tribute to the recently passed Valentine's Day, this February's Mindshare was "more heart centered and emotional," i.e. a NSFW version with speakers who led discussions on everything from the contemporary manifestation of the Victorian phenomenon known as a "Bromance" to a brief foray into animal PDA and "other peculiarities." Mingling outside amongst an installation of giant electric seahorses, attendee Lily Cheng expressed her enthusiasm: "Fusing relationships, monkeys, and an open bar, [a Mindshare Thursday] is all I could ever want."
Its motto being "Enlightened Debauchery," Mindshare is a monthly networking event that attempts to integrate substance into L.A.'s Thursday night fun routine, combining expert science and art talks with pastries, lively conversation and themed surprises. December's version (covered here) was a Santa hat filled affair and this month there were cakes galore, including a Mandarin Orange cake brought in by TechZulu correspondent and "Senior Baker" Amanda Coolong to celebrate founder Douglas Campbell's return to solid food after a two week long master cleanse, as well as the one year anniversary of the event which brought news of the launch of a sister NYC Mindshare in the Spring and the announcement of Mindshare Labs' upcoming collaboration with the USC TED Conference.
Like any attempt to curate a conference around a theme, some of the talks were weightier than others. Los Angeles Zoo PR director Jason Jacobs' treatise on "Mating in Public" and psychology scholar (and "ridiculous sock" fan) Sena Koleva's musings on the "Laws of Attraction" -- apparently kindness, intelligence, and an interesting personality can take you pretty far -- stood out as some of the most insightful, achieving the precise confluence of science, literature and art that keeps Mindshare devotees coming back. As Koleva put it, "Mindshare is the only event I go to every month -- I save my badges." The highlight of the conference portion was something completely unexpected, a performance by voluptuous Polynesian dancers from the Nonosina dance troupe, sponsored by the Aldous Huxley Foundation. Alan Nassif, an attendee pulled from the crowd to hula (shockingly well) on stage, said about the experience with a satisfied smile, "We're living the dream."
Keeping with the "attraction and sexuality" theme, the thing that attracted people the most was a projector installation set up unobtrusively in the corner of Hangar 1018. The hypercolor ShadowSmoke (a.k.a. Besmoke), an interactive fluid simulation that responds to various sensory inputs, was sensual in the sense that it picked up on your shadow and adjusted itself accordingly. Described by its creator Eric Gradman as "lava lamp with non-stoner update frequencies," the mesmerizing piece was the belle of the ball -- attendees couldn't stop playing with it and by the end of the night it had developed quite a loyal following. Along with LazerMaze, PhotoBooth, and the the aforementioned interactive treasure hunt, a scan tag hunt so complicated I needed to have tech photographer Wm. Marc Salsburry explain it to me twice (apparently others figured it out as there were over 20 entries for the chance to win a free ticket to Mindshare and "hug from Doug"), there were plenty of opportunities to get your senses piqued and interactive on. And how could you go wrong with hula dancers?
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3rd Thursday of every month, 8:00 PM @ (location varies, check site for updates)
Cost: $20 - $30 depending on how early you buy tickets