Mind Over Matter installation becomes chaotic in response to brainwaves
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Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves

Designer David Carson and artist Thijs Biersteker have worked together to create a mind-controlled art installation, which goes on display in Amsterdam this week.

Viewers wear EEG (electroencephalography) headbands to watch Mind Over Matter, which is premiering at the NewWerktheater.

The collage-based projection responds to inner calm, but also inner turmoil.

The EEG headbands detect electrical activity inside the wearer's brain. When viewers are in a calm or meditative state, the artwork has a peaceful appearance.

However, if one or more members of the audience can't quiet their mind, the artwork gets accordingly frenzied, with dark clouds and images of pollution intruding into the field of view.

Carson and Biersteker want Mind Over Matter to make audiences appreciate the power of collective action.

Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves

"The idea is that we overcome our small differences if we start focusing on the bigger issues in life," Biersteker told Dezeen.

"The installation can work with any amount of people, but when people come together and use their collective brainpower, it shows we have the power to overcome small differences for the greater good — something we kind of need in these times."

The creators want audiences to be compelled to reach a calm state of mind.

"The great thing was that people that practised meditation had a quick hold on the installation, whilst unpractised people had to be really focused on getting the orb into a great place," continued Biersteker.

Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves

Mind Over Matter unites Carson's graphic design — the US designer is best known for his "grunge typography" and art direction on the magazine Ray Gun, as well as work for corporate clients like Bose — with Biersteker's tech knowhow.

An interactive artist, Biersteker's previous works include The Cover That Judges You, a book that refuses to open for judgmental readers.

The EEG headbands used in the installation measure the frequencies of all brainwaves, but Mind Over Matter hones in on only the two most reliable ones to read — theta and beta waves.

Theta waves are associated with relaxing activities like light sleep and meditation, while beta waves are generated when the brain is highly engaged, as in active conversation.

In response to a high frequency of theta waves, Mind Over Matter displays a "well-balanced" animation in shades of green and blue. If there is a high frequency of beta waves, blood-red colours and dark imagery appears in a more chaotic swirl.

Carson and Biersteker's collaboration was initiated by ADCN — the Art Directors Club Netherlands, a collective where Carson was recently artist in residence. The directors felt the two environmentally aware creatives would work well together.

"During their collaboration, they would typically skip lunch to search for trash together, from the streets and canals of Amsterdam," said ADCN managing director Dinesh Sonak.

Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves

"We are excited to have connected two generations of designers for a groundbreaking experience," continued Sonak, who experienced Mind Over Matter during the testing phase. "During the try-outs, I personally felt the power to shift my focus to either the good or the bad and ugly."

Mind Over Matter will premiere at the NewWerktheater in Amsterdam on 14 September.

Later this month, another brain-powered art installation, Mind Pilot by Loop.pH, will go on display at the Design Museum as part of London Design Festival.


Project credits:

Development: Bas van Oerle, Daniël Schotsborg, Thijs Biersteker, David Carson
Production: Marlies Olbertijn, NewWerktheater
Sound: Moby.Gratis
Film: Roland Pupupin, Martin van der Veen

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Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves
Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves
Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves
Mind Over Matter installation descends into chaos in response to viewers' brainwaves