Making Waves

This week in class we learned and experienced the piece Brainstorming, which uses EEG waves to control the color of the lights within an octopus crown. It examines how the brain waves of two people facing each other change and if they can become synced, creating the same color in each crown. I thought it was very interesting to try and get people’s brainwaves to be in sync and wondered if by performing some sort of task together, it would reveal either how people think differently in collaborative situations or how people think the same when working together. The interaction of two different people can be found in several other works. Marina Abramovic, the famous performance artist, did a piece in 2010 at MoMA called The Artist Is Present in which she sat across from participants and would simply lock eyes with them (MoMA). I wonder if we were to measure the brainwaves of the participants during this performance, we would find that the brainwave would also sync up.

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(Source: MoMA)

There are also pieces that incorporate measuring brain activity while sitting face to face. In the piece Mutual Wave Machine, An Interactive Neurofeedback Installation, two people face each other enveloped in a space while an audiovisual track plays in the background to reflect how in sync the brain waves of the two participants are. Like Brainstorming, Mutual Wave Machine looks to see when people can sync their brain waves, and how the brain waves to two people facing each other can interact without the use of other forms of communication (Creators). As the brain waves of the two people get more and more similar, the audio and visuals get more and more clear and cohesive, whereas when the brain waves are different, the audiovisual track becomes increasingly chaotic.

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(Source: MAI)

Many artist are interested in incorporating neurofeedback and EEG into their pieces. One piece, Dreamachine, is a cylinder with shapes cut out of it and a light inside. As the cylinder rotates around the light, it causes the light to flicker across the faces of any participants. This is best experienced with the eyes closed, making it “the world’s only art work viewed with eyes tightly closed.” (Dreamachine). While the Dreamachine itself has been around for a while, it is now being incorporated with EEG technology. The way that the Dreamachine flickers is supposed to correspond to alpha waves in the brain. Because the flickering light causes pulsations of the optic nerve, the Dreamachine can actually alter the activity of the brain slightly. The artist Luciana Haill has incorporated EEG directly with the Dreamachine by hooking up participants to EEG electrodes while they are exposed to a Dreamachine and measuring their brainwaves.

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As EEGs have becoming even more accessible, they are being used more and more as a way to show brain activity as a performance art, making our minds the center of focus as an art form.



“Brainstorming” Victoria Vesna. Web. 9 May 2017

Dikker, Suzanne & Oristaglio, Siena, “MAI Presents: Mutual Wave Machine, An Interactive Neurofeedback Installation” MAI. Web. 9 May 2017

“Dreamachine” Dreamachine. Web. 9 May 2017

“The Artist Is Present” MoMA. Web. 9 May 2017

“These Brainwave Artists Are Crafting the Future of Immersive Experiences” Creators. Vice. 10 October 2016. Web. 9 May 2017