a semantic survey of emotions

Last Updated on November 25, 2019

A Semantic Survey of Emotions spans the artmaking and neuroscience practices of Marcos Lutyens and Richard Cytowic to inform the development of The Main Museum. By completing a survey (or two), each about a minute in length to finish, participants will not only supply data to the museum that will inform its future organizing, building, and conceptual framework, but that will be used as the material for a new work of photographic art by Lutyens in collaboration with Cytowic. The form of the project is open-ended to accommodate the results, but may include a performance, a talk, an installation, a film, or some other expression we do not yet know.

The surveys draw upon Cytowic’s expertise in synesthesia, or the phenomenon of paired senses (e.g. tasting color), and Lutyens’s past work in the art exploring psychology and utilizing surveys through landscape and portraiture. Lutyens’s partnership with The Main is part of an ongoing, open-ended conversation about the potentiality of the museum.IN ENGLISH EN ESPAÑOL


Marcos Lutyens’s practice has centered on the investigation of consciousness to engage the visitor’s embodied experience of art. His investigations have included research with social groups, such as the third-gender Muxhe, Raeilians, synaesthetes, border migrants, space engineers, and mental architects to explore how unconscious mind-sets shift across cultures and backgrounds.

Lutyens has exhibited internationally at the 54th Venice Biennial, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Liverpool Biennial 2016, Manifesta 11, 14th Istanbul Biennial, the Royal Academy, and the National Art Museum of China.


Richard E. Cytowic, MD MFA is best known for rediscovering synesthesia—the involuntary coupling of the senses—and returning it to mainstream science.

Dr. Cytowic writes “The Fallible Mind” column at Psychology Today, and has spoken at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn Museum, and cultural institutions worldwide. A Professor of Neurology at George Washington University, he is also a Fellow of the Southampton Writers Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities. His work is the subject of BBC documentaries, and media appearances include Good Morning America, All Things Considered, and 60 Minutes.