Brain Art pp 229-262 | Cite as

New Ways of Knowing Ourselves. BCI Facilitating Artistic Exploration of Our Biology



As rapidly advancing technologies become more widely available, having access to tools that collect biometric data and in particular BCI technology, is providing artists with new ways of exploring our biological selves as well as creating new modes of audience interaction. Brainlight is a large illuminated interactive sculpture that integrates biology, lighting design and BCI technology to explore the hidden aspects of our minds. The installation is controlled with a wireless EMOTIV EPOC+ EEG headset that detects live neural activity which is translated into a light display within the brain sculpture. In real time it visualises the brain frequencies of Theta (3.5–7.5 Hz) as green light, Alpha (7.5–13 Hz) as blue light, and Beta (16–32 Hz) as red light. Previously, in more traditional art, when an audience views an artwork their own psychological process would be a passive, hidden, private experience. The aim of Brainlight is to harness the brain as the creator of an interactive art experience where no physical interplay is required except for the electrical activity of the mind. The project exposes some key developments in the use of BCI technology for artistic purposes, such as how to accurately collect and process EEG data aesthetically, and what license the artist can take with this data in order to facilitate meaning or allow space for the audience to bring their own meaning to the work. This chapter will explore these developments and outline the collaborative process behind the research and development of the work and the contexts in which it has subsequently been exhibited and used by the public.


Electroencephalography (EEG) Brain-computer interface (BCI) Brain data visualisation Neurofeedback Interaction design Mind-controlled art Illuminated brain sculpture Interactive art Biofeedback art Art-science Audience 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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