L U X M E N T I S – Light Of The Mind
B R A I N L I G H T 2015 integrates biology and illumination design into an interactive, sculpture cut from perspex and engraved with neural networks. Collaborating with neuroscientist Peter Simpson-Young and programmers Sam Gentle & Sami Sabik, the brain sculpture lights up in response to changing brain activity transmitted from an EEG (electroencephalography) wireless headset.
The B R A I N L I G H T was Laura’s major research project for her Masters of Illumination Design at the University of Technology, Sydney and was created during a CULTURE AT WORK 2015 art + science residency program.
Click HERE for a link to the online exhibition catalogue and essays.
Read about the project in feature articles by:
LISTEN to an interview with the creators Laura Jade & Sam Gentle on DIFFUSION RADIO
The catalyst for this research project was my flourishing intrigue and desire to harnesses my own Brain as the creator of an interactive art experience where no physical touch was required except the power of my own thoughts. To experience a unique visualisation of brain activity and to share it with others I have created a large freestanding brain sculpture that is made of laser cut Perspex hand etched with neural networks that glow when light is passed through them. The installation is controlled with a wireless BCI (Brain Controlled Interface) Electroencephalography (EEG- is the process of recording the electrical activity of the brain) headset that creates a dynamic light and sound experience of live interactive brain activity. For this artwork I am using the Emotiv EPOC / EPOC+ which is a revolutionary Brain Computer Interface for human computer interaction. It users sensors to tune into electrical signals produced by the brain to detect users thoughts, feelings and expressions. Myself, a Neuroscientist and a Programmer will be using the Emotiv. EPOC+ EEG headset to explore the brain frequency areas of: Meditation (Alpha), focus and attention (Theta), excitement/agitation (Beta) as well as emotional states and facial expressions which will be translated into a light display within the brain sculpture. By using this multichannel Human Computer Interface which is sensitive enough to detect and output real-time neural activity, we can experience a level of conscious mind-control over our Brain’s bustling electrical activity while simultaneously witnessing an internal feedback loop created by our constantly changing perception of the artwork.
THE PROGRAMMER’S PERSPECTIVE
It’s funny to think that computers and brains were always meant to be opposites. We’re so good at seeing patterns, making sense of ambiguity, and thinking creatively; but so very bad at repeating exact mathematical steps over and over again. The first computer was created by the military because dropping artillery shells requires exactly that bland, automatic precision. Computers and brains are opposites because we built them to do what we couldn’t. And yet somehow the possibility of bringing them together has never stopped inspiring us. Perhaps we can make computers that think like brains (Artificial Intelligence). We can think more like computers (Cybernetics) and make computers that help us think (Augmented Cognition). We can build computers out of brains (Biological Computing) and build brains out of computers (Brain Emulation). It seems like there are as many paths between machine and mind as there are people adventurous enough to walk them. So what about when you bring together an expert in brains, an expert in computers and an expert in creativity? Well, you can’t help but join the long line of adventurers exploring that interaction between machine and mind, that mix of creativity and computing, that unity of art and science. I’m honored to work with such great people as we, too, wander that dense forest, trying to find our path to bring those opposites back together.
THE NEUROSCIENTIST’S PERSPECTIVE
Like many people in the brain and mind sciences I’m deeply attracted to the infinite complexity of our brains, and am fixated on the dilemma as to how consciousness arises from this bizarre and gelatinous organ. In many ways we’re all experts in the workings of our minds, intimately aware of what it is like to experience the world through our own eyes. Yet most of us live with very little understanding of the underlying processes within our enigmatic brains. This collaboration has allowed us to explore representations of these profound concepts, and to truly appreciate the layers of unappreciated beauty of the brain. I believe this work will allow the general public to actively engage with these philosophical dilemmas, and allow them to experience the sense of awe that comes from battling the seemingly inexplicable gap between the physical brain and the ethereal mind. By combining Laura’s command over novel design technologies, Sam’s fluency in computational and embedded programming, and the most recent brain-computer interfaces, we have an unprecedented freedom in exploring the junction between biology and technology. I believe this work will not only be awe-inspiring but give people far deeper insight into the inner workings of the brain and mind.
B R A I N L I G H T L A U N C H
CULTURE AT WORK
The exhibition was launched by Dr Bryce Vissel, The Roth Fellow, Head of Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and featured guest speaker, Emrah Baki Ulas from UTS.