Everyone loves a laser show. But if there's one thing cooler than a laser show, it's a laser show you control with your mind. This was what happened to me last night at a new installation in London called On Your Wavelength by artist Marcus Lyall (who does visuals for Chemical Brothers), composer Rob Thomas, and designer Alex Anpilogov. For the piece, users wear an EEG headset and, with the power of thought (and beta brain waves), you influence a light and sound performance that's happening in front of you.
The way it works is, when you first put the headset on, it reads your mood (mostly when I went people were happy, it was a free bar) and that sets the tone for the performance. Then regards controlling it, the more you think and focus on thinking i.e. the greater your beta brain activity which the device is reading (and is then translated through custom software), the more intense the music and lasers get. They change in color and frequency, with white lasers meaning maximum activity.
It's a difficult thing to master, but how intensely you're thinking does definitely have an impact on the lasers. For instance, when I was thinking about controlling it, it was vibrant and alive. When I paused to put my phone away which I was using to capture my performance—and my mind was momentarily less active—the lasers petered out.
What it amounts to is a lot of fun and something you want to come back and try again, which is what one of the organisers recommended—the more you do it the better you get.
It's also the kind of setup that would be great in your living room—some mind-lasers to just plug in and play with like you would a PlayStation.On Your Wavelength is open to the public today through October 18 at the Railway Arch, 37 America Street, London SE1 0NJ. It's part of the Merge Festival which is currently taking place in and around Bankside, London.