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Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Wednesday, April 3, 2002
5:00–7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Jonathan Miller, distinguished author, theater and film director, curator, and neurologist, presents a public lecture in conjunction with the invitational symposium Frames of Viewing: The Brain, Cognition, and Art. Using this opportunity to place the topic of the invitational symposium in the public forum, Dr. Miller will discuss the intersections of neuroscience and art by examining "the gaze" as it is used in various ways to view, perceive, interpret, and experience art. This lecture is a portal to discussions taking place this year among distinguished international scholars in residence at the Getty Research Institute and at the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Fundamental to the discussions, as explored through Dr. Miller's lecture, is the problem of how the body, mind, and culture combine to produce perception and aesthetic experience. Contemporary approaches that incorporate neuroscience—from studies of contexts of beholding, to measurements of movement, to theories of the gaze—belong to a rich history of attempts to comprehend perceptions and their consequences and to understand how art is framed by perception, experience, and judgment.

Throughout his career Jonathan Miller has occupied positions in many different fields: physician; author; lecturer; television producer and presenter; and theater, opera, and film director. Born in London, he read natural sciences at St. John's College, Cambridge, and qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1959. While at St. John's College, Dr. Miller appeared as a member of the Cambridge Footlights and subsequently accepted an invitation to coauthor and appear in "Beyond the Fringe" with Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, and Dudley Moore. This now-legendary satirical review opened at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960 and later transferred to London and New York.

Dr. Miller's career has been inextricably linked with the stage, where he has directed many memorable productions, including The Merchant of Venice, with Sir Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright; The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company); The Seagull (Chichester Festival Theatre); A Long Day's Journey into Night (Haymarket Theatre); and The Emperor (Royal Court). Between January 1988 and October 1990, as Artistic Director of the Old Vic, Dr. Miller directed a number of highly acclaimed productions, including A Midsummer Night's Dream (Almeida Theatre) and The Beggar's Opera for Broomhill Opera. In 1974 Dr. Miller was invited to direct the British premiere of Arden Must Die by Alexander Goehr. He has worked at many of the world's leading opera houses, such as La Scala, Milan; the Metropolitan Opera, New York; the Salzburg Festival; and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

For over thirty years Dr. Miller has contributed prolifically to the BBC and independent television. His 1966 film of Alice in Wonderland is regarded as one of his great achievements. Between 1980 and 1982 he produced and directed eleven plays for the BBC's prestigious Shakespeare series. Television has also allowed Dr. Miller to explore aspects of his first career as a neurologist. He has written and presented several major series, including The Body in Question, Museums of Madness, and, most recently, Opera Works.

Dr. Miller is a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of subjects. In 1994 he gave a series of lectures at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., titled "From the Look of Things," which he subsequently delivered at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and at the Art Institute of Chicago. In September 1998 Dr. Miller was curator of a major exhibition at the National Gallery, London, titled Mirror Image, which explored the pictorial representation of reflection.

Jonathan Miller was awarded the honorary title Doctor of Letters by Cambridge University and in 1997 was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London. In 1998 he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He is also a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lecture Sponsors:
This lecture is organized by the Getty Research Institute, in collaboration with the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and IMG Artists, London.