Hive Mind is a peek into the future of augmented cooperative cognition. Two performers engage the audience in an on-stage discussion in which no words are spoken. Instead, the brain rhythms of each performer directly generate pulses of light and sound that synchronize the brain oscillations of viewers and create an immersive environment that transports the audience to altered states of consciousness. Based on neuroscientific research showing that rhythmic stimuli can entrain neuronal oscillations to alter perception, reaction times, and memory formation, Hive Mind uses the performers’ live EEG and data processing to directly convey the performers’ brain states. As one performer’s brainwaves become the stimuli that entrains the other performer’s brain patterns, a public brainwave-driven conversation unfolds between the performers. Together the performers and audience go on a journey through different induced brain states and altered perceptions, ultimately considering broad implications for the future of human cognition and communication.
WARNING! THIS WORK PRESENTS A SEIZURE RISK IF YOU HAVE PHOTO-SENSITIVE EPILEPSY
View fullscreen with headphones for greatest brainwave entrainment
In HIVE MIND, the audience is immersed in a space, oscillating with light and surround sound at frequencies corresponding to inherent bands of two performers' endogenous brain activity as they engage a "brainwave conversation". By donning an electroencephalography (EEG) monitor, the performers' unique brain oscillation signatures enter a neurofeedback loop with the audiovisual environment that simultaneously derives from and influences this neural activity. The performance shifts between zones of primary brainwave frequencies: beta (focused attention), theta (deep relaxation) and alpha (calm awareness). Using previously documented techniques to manipulate the audience's dominant EEG frequencies with oscillations of light and sound (Mathewson et al. J Cogn Neurosci 2012; Gomez-Ramirez et al. J Neurosci 2011), the performance enables altered cognitive states as the equipment measures and manipulates the performers' EEG.
Relationship Between Brainwave Frequencies and Cognitive States
HIVE MIND extends state-of-the-art science in neural electrophysiology to offer highly specific brain-state tuning in a group setting. Beyond offering an immersive aesthetic experience, we are interested in the possibilities of neuromodulation as a tool for gaining understanding of the brain and improving lives by optimizing function. Importantly, this performance highlights and displays possibilities for collaborative cognition via brain-brain communication.
Brain Oscillations can be Entrained
Entrainment Frequency Affects Memory
Williams, Neuroscience, 2001
Williams et al. BMC Neuroscience, 2006
Intentional alteration of physiological and cognitive processes will become increasingly important as humanity progresses and will become increasingly possible as we develop greater neuroscientific understanding. Existing at the intersection of art, science, and technology, HIVE MIND will give viewers a visceral experience that demonstrates the role of brainwaves in cognition, while exploring novel mechanisms for manipulating these oscillations through AV stimulation. HIVE MIND will examine the implications of neurofeedback at the level of the individual, society, and the changing nature of human consciousness.
Synergy in Art & Science
We believe that works like HIVE MIND and Telephone Rewired present an opportunity to mediate deep synergy between art and science. Taking this transdisciplinary approach develops promising new paths, utilizing cutting-edge research to create installation and performance art, which in turn can generate novel datasets and raise public discourse around important scientific advances. This dynamic interplay holds great possibilities to further scientific inquiry and advance public thinking about how new discoveries are likely to change the way we understand ourselves, our relationship to one another and the world around us.