Marina Abramović Presents New Work Investigating Brainwave Synchronization

The performance artist has collaborated with neuroscientists for an installation/science experiment investigating brain activity.

Sep 4 2013, 12:42pm

Marina Abramović seems to be constantly in the news lately—if she's not launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new arts center, then she's teaming up with Lady Gaga for weird art videos, which itself was done to help Abramović reach her Kickstarter goal (she made it). And now that she's raised $661,452 to found the Marina Abramović Institute, she's supporting new work by Suzanne DikkerMatthias Oostrik, Peter Burr, Diederik Schoorl, and Matthew Patterson Curry on "interactive brain-art installation" and neuroscience experiment Mutual Wave Machine

The piece is the first project of the Marina Abramovic Institute Science Champer, an interdisciplinary platform that brings together scientists and artists to co-create durational experimental works that explore the relationship between artist, scientist, performer, viewer, and research subject. 

Mutual Wave Machine looks at the notion of the phrase "being on the same wavelength" by investigating brainwave synchronization using custom software that collects and analyzes brain acitvity in real-time. Similar to her The Artist is Present performance, members of the public will sit opposite each other, but this time in EEG headsets, while sharing a silent "mutual gaze" as the equipment records their activity and displays it in real-time—with the aim to explore the "transfer of energy between performer, public, and participant." 

Here's how the piece is described in the press materials:


Enclosed by an intimate capsule and immersed in an audiovisual environment that responds to and reflects their shared brain activity, visitors can directly experience and manipulate their internal efforts to approach each other, or distance themselves from each other. During the experience, greater brainwave synchronization is reflected in greater vividness and more coherent and recognizable audiovisual patterns, while lack of synchronization strays towards dark audio-visual chaos: a faint ringing in the ears and static in the retinas.

It will feature as part of the TodaysArt festival in The Hague, Netherlands taking place on the 27th and 28th September. Also there will be a piece by artist Matthijs Munnik called Hallucinating Light, part of his Citadels series. The series involves Munnik using flickering light to evoke hallucinations, where light flicking at a certain frequency causes "interference in the signal from the eye to the primary visual cortex". This interferene results in "unworldly colours, fractals, pixels and dazzling shapes." 

Hallucinating Light. Photo by Ed Jansen

The final piece at the festival will be Sphaerae by Cocky Eek, which is an inflatable pavilion whose five-dome design (below) takes inspiration from soap bubbles. The venue, based on the work of architect Christopher Alexander and the idea of pattern language, will host audiovisual works from numerous artists.


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