Donating brainwaves 4 art’s sake


It all happened during the International Design Festival, at Victoria & Albert Museum.

While in London, I’ve gathered much reckoning for digital art seen as cold computerized art with that certain human touch. NULL OBJECT, developed by London Fieldworks, an art partnership between Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist, is “an exploration of perceptual phenomena, connecting neurophysiology and manufacturing technology.” It sounds fancy and incomprehensible?

Let me try to clarify it for you. The project was developed in three phases.

Tell me what you see, take 1

Do not push that button quite yet

During the first stage, “NULL OBJECT: Looking at Primitives”, members of the general public donate their brainwaves. By placing 5 electrodes on my head, the artist Bruce Gilchrist connected me to a bio-monitor that recorded electronic impulses from my brain. Catchy, huh? Let me just continue, it gets even more interesting. I was exposed to 5 autostereograms and asked to “stay on the surface” and then “dive into the picture.” Autostereograms are a form of imagery developed by vision scientist to study 3D perception of the brain. Inside each picture that seemed to be an instant shot of a Brownian movement of pixels, is the image of a 3D object that one can be perceived by refocusing and fixing a point deeper in the picture. Once the 3D image was shaped, I had to press and hold a switch so that the machine could record the brainwaves formed in that specific moment. The brainwaves received from all participants are to be stored in a collective database.

Push that button, take 2

What do you see?

Passing on to the second phase, artist Gustav Metzger was been invited to take part in the project. Undergoing the same process of brainwaves monitoring, he should think about nothing instead of looking at autostereograms. Matched to the data recorded of participants from the first phase, Gustav Metzger’s brainwaves will elicit a number of primitive shapes from the database that will be then used in the final phase of the project.

To relish it all, the last step, consists in the creation of “a database-driven artwork”. Database information translated into .stl (stereo lithographic) files will become control instructions for a KUKA manufacturing robot that will create a form into a 0.5 m cube of Portland Roach stone. The work of art referred to as “NULL OBJECT: Gustav Metzger thinks about nothing” will be exhibited at Work gallery in London from 30 November 2012 until February 2013.

For all you lucky people living in London, here’s the project website Null Object exhibition. Be there on the 30th of November and do send pictures.

Photos courtesy of Shameer Subratty


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