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Neural Network

6.12.12
United States

Within the art world, the psyche of the artist has long been a recurring subject of contemplation, and with the recent widespread availability of advanced scientific instruments, what audiences once speculated upon can now become a visual reality. In Neural Network an EEG was used to harvest my brain waves during a number of various activities, including reading relaxing and test taking, over the course of several weeks. This data was assigned a numeric value according to RGBA (Red, Green, Blue, Alpha), allowing for a color to be assigned to each thought pattern. These hues were then projected onto a standing wave of water that corresponded to the dominant recorded brain wave; ergo for an Alpha wave with a running average of 14hz, a sinusoidal wave at 14hz was released, and so on and so forth. The resulting videos are taken from the series Neural Network, a documentation of these artistic experiments.

My inspiration stems not only from new media works such as Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse projects, Steve Mann’s Electroencephalophone and Carston Nicolai’s Milch photo series, but also from scientific illustration of the early 20th century, most notably the works of Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Cajal was one of the first neuroscientists to properly examine and depict the neuron, and his attention to detail is why many of his illustrations are still in use today. I was not only fascinated with the micro presented in these illustrations, but with their visual similarities to the macro. This becomes more evident in comparing the aesthetics of Neural Network, the illustrations of Cajal, and Hubble telescope photography.

As we progress into the second decade of the 21st century, our neural connectivity has extended beyond the parameters of our own skulls, and infiltrated the technology around us. It is through these processes that I chose to visually depict my own psyche. The technology used not only measured data, but also in a sense, created these works. The machinery becomes the artist and my brain becomes merely the medium, circumventing the typical artistic hierarchy and bringing about a better understanding of what our role as artists is in the age we inhabit.

How was MAX used?

An arduino takes raw data from a hacked Mindflex, sends to MAX via serial port for analyzation. MAX is the enviroment in which all of the serial data is processed, converted into RGB and audio, and then projected.

Neural Network

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