Author: hackthebrain-hub

BRAINHACK.ORG GLOBAL 2 – 7 March 2017

BRAINHACK.ORG GLOBAL

Currently the BRAINHACK.ORG project is having its global event from March 2nd until March 7th 2017

Check http://events.brainhack.org/global2017/locations.html#boston

In the following countries activites are happening: China, Singapore, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, UK, Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, USA, Brzail, Chili.

See more on www.brainhack.org

Other than our BrainHack / Hack the Brain project BRAINHACK.ORG does not deal so much with the collaboration between the arts, design, neurosciences and neurotechnology, but more with neurosciences and neurotech as such and it therefore offers a great and immense source of knowledge, also for something we may call neuro arts.

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Fashion and Brainwaves – works of Jasna Rok

Jasna Rokegem’s Fashion on Brainwaves (FOB) tries to connect fashion an brain technologies. Using BCI’s connected to clothing FOB tries to find new modes to communicate someones mood through what she, he is wearing.
I am curious about her next applications where FOB not only shows a general visualisation of the mood of the wearer, but makes someone really understand that mood.

You can find more about it on www.jasnarok.com

Also the Focus Factory project in which Rokegem was involved in 2015, 2016 is interesting. Focus Factory promises to measure your work focus in order to make you work more effectively and as such it is an interesting case of non-clinical use of BCI. I am curious about whether the team that made it has thoughts about the ethics of such an application as it may not be you who uses is for your benefit, but your employer, who might be oonly interested to boost you productivity for coprorate interest.

www.jasnarok.com/future/#project-focus-factory

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Alvin Lucier at MAERZ Musik 16 – 26 March Berlin

MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues is a music festival dedicated to the politics of time, will show works of Alvin Lucier again, including his early 1960’s works where he pioneered with BCI as an interface between human consciousness and an automated orchestra.

Featuring concerts, performances, installations, film presentations and discourse formats, the 10-day festival provides a transdisciplinary platform for listening and thinking together.

Alvin Lucier (March 20, 21, 24, 25, 26)
American sound pioneer and composer Alvin Lucier will be present during the entire period of the festival, performing important works since the 1960s, among them the world premiere of a new version of the spatial composition “Clocker.”

Pier Luigi Capucci lectured about Luciers BCI art works during the hackathon in Prague, December 3 2017.

March 16 – 26, 2017, Berlin
www.berlinerfestispiele.de

FET Open Project, Luminous, and Hacking Consciousness

The overall mission of the FET Open project, Luminous, is to probe the limits of non-invasive computer-to-brain interfaces by carrying out research using improved brain stimulation paradigms to explore fundamental neuroscience questions and applications, and by designing and testing more powerful, controllable and safe non-invasive brain stimulation technologies.

The project relates to the winning project from the first Hack the Brain Hackathon in Amsterdam in 2014 that proposed we will be able to consciously experience and affect our dreams. It also relates to the work of Stuart Hameroff who is working with stimulation using ultrasound.

Interested in learning more? Have a look at the official website for project Luminous.

Workshop at DSI conference in Rome

Jurre Ongering and Lucas Evers of Waag Society will be presenting on the topic of BCIs at the upcoming Digital Social Innovation Fair in Rome. They will be part of the Collaborative Making, Art And Creativity workshop on 2 February 2017. During the workshop, they will discuss how brain-computer-interfaces (BCIs) might offer meaningful interaction for digital social innovation.

While the tickets for the event are already sold out, the event will be streamed online.

Critical Neuroscience

Worth reading www.critical-neuroscience.org, a website about how to go about critical in the still relatively young field of neuroscience, that holds so many enormous promisses about how it will change how we understsand ourselves. The Critical Neurosciences project is from 2010 and is not continued, however the site still contains some interesting articles and links to a communicty that looks at neurosciences in a culturel context often overlooked by the neurotechnology developments, but important for understanding impact and societal ramifications of this developing field of knowledge and technology.

Brain VR

From the github page of the project: “This is the project B-vr – a short for Brain Virtual Reality. Project B-vr is an abstract audiovisual art form with a goal to create a cerebral virtual reality visual music instrument. And a lots of pyramids”.

Project B-vr is a beautifully made, psychedelic environment experienced through video goggles and controlled or changed by input coming from the brain through BCI (Open Vibe). The question in the project, so far, is: what will determine how the viewer perceives the changes made in the environment by his or her own brain activity?

Is the project aiming at creating a beautiful experience? How is that enhanced by the viewers’ own brain waves? What can this sort of neural feedback loop lead to?

Still: The Congress, Ari Folman 2014
Still: The Congress, Ari Folman 2014

The project is strongly reminiscent of the 2014 allegorical film, The Congress, directed by Ari Folman (with Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel). In the film, new ‘neuro-cinematic’ media means that actors are entirely replaced by their simulations, and the audience experiences film through immersive VR goggles. When the goggles are later replaced by VR neuro-cinematic drugs, it unleashes a new wave of neuro-cinematic entertainment consumers and produces the demand for neuro state control. It’s a dark (but also hilarious) film worth watching if you want to better understand the increasing mixture of entertainment technologies, science, and bio politics.

Collaborators:

  • Štěpán Drbohlav
  • Lukáš Hejtmánek
  • Martin Hofmann
  • Lucia Hrašková
  • Evan Tedlock
  • Lukáš Ulrich

Presentations by Beatrice de Gelder, Pier Luigi Capucci and Brendan Allison

Hack the Brain Prague featured several fantastic presentations by Beatrice de Gelder, Pier Luigi Capucci, and Brendan Allison.

Beatrice de Gelder
Beatrice de Gelder lectured about the neuroscience of perception, an area that is also of great interest for the arts. She also pointed out strongly that, for this project, we might consider talking about “hacking the body” instead of “hacking the brain” as it is so difficult to think of the two as separate. This is an idea we observed in the hackathon projects that attempted to utilise the brain as a muscle to move images or to make objects move.

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Beatrice de Gelder presenting at Hack the Brain, Prague

Another interesting element of Beatrice de Gelder’s presentation was about how much similarity can be observed in brain activity when a person is thinking about a melody and when she is actually hearing it. She showed us her research related to this concept in which she researched how much people become immersed in their avatar during gaming situations. From this, effects such as game addiction can be researched from a neurological point of view.

During the many projects she described in her presentation, it was interesting to see how much food for thought and food for art they all contained beyond the BNCI projects developed in de Prague hackathon.

In case you are interested in collaborating with Beatrice de Gelder’s Emotion and Cognition lab at Maastricht University, you find a link here to artist residency program.

Pier Luigi Capucci at Hack the Brain Prague
Pier Luigi Capucci at Hack the Brain Prague

Pier Luigi Capucci
After introducing NOEMA (a platform devoted to relationship and influences between culture, science and technology), Pier Luigi Capucci presented a brief anthology of artistic interactions with neuroscience and neuro-technologies. It’s great to see the richness of more than half a century of these projects. Take, for example, Alvin Lucier’s 1965 project, Music for solo performance, wherein he uses a musician’s brain waves to make a percussion instrument work. The work not only questions (already in the 1960’s) the authorship and authenticity of the music performer, but also does the same thing that was done by a number of teams in the Prague hackthon [http://www.alvin-lucier-film.com/solo_performer.html]. The performance was later re-enacted by Andrew Brause in 2006.

In 1994, Ulrike Gabriel and Bob O’Kane made an installation, terrain_01, in which the alteration of two people’s brain activity drives the activity of small solar powered mobile robots. The calmer the participants are, the more lively and synchronised the robot activity.

Awarded the Off-Arco prize in 2007, Janez Jansa and Reinhold Scherer (in collaboration with other media artists, neuroscientists, and supported by G-Tech) made BrainLoop, an installation in which a performer moved through Google Earth using brain activity read by a BCI.

Steel Sky (2009), from Christopher de Boeck, does something other than using brain activity to move something else. The visitor/participant wearing a BCI walks underneath a ‘roof’ of steel elements that sonify his or her neural activity.

Capucci mainly showed us projects about artistic uses of BCI. Apart from these, there are also interesting artistic interactions with neuroscience that go beyond BCI. Among these are, for instance, Guy Ben-Ary’s project, CellF, a neural synthesizer made of the artist’s own neural cells grown in a petri dish.

Fashionable BCIs
At Hack the Brain Prague: Fashionable BCIs

Brandon Allison
Brandon Allison, member of the advisory board of Hack the Brain and working with both G-tech and UC Davies California, explained – with some hilarious examples – the differences and similarities between professional scientific BNCI and the ones on the consumer market. He also mentioned how BCI are starting to become fashion items.

Showing us a number of future non-medical applications of BCI, Allison clearly explained why BCI will be used a lot in gaming applications in the near future. Interestingly, he described designs that will make you navigate applications similar to Google Maps using BCI (something that was done by artists 10 years ago). The use of BCI to navigate through World of Warcraft has also been tested.

The somewhat ethically problematic application of measuring alertness using BCI was, interestingly, one of the hackathon projects. In the project, if drowsiness occurs, the BCI wearer is alerted by signals. Gamer fanatics would love something like this to stay awake for another 24 hours. And it could be beneficial for exhausted truck drivers needing to avoid accidents. But what, for instance, if it was mostly used to push productivity to new limits? For future hackathons it would be interesting to look into how measurement of emotional states can produce a driving output for gaming situations.

Hack the Brain Prague – Day 2 Report

Venuše ve Švehlovce, a 19th-century theatre hall in the Prague district of Žižkov is the location for Hack the Brain Prague Hackathon. Over 3 days, seven teams of artists, scientists, developers and psychologists are working collaboratively on a range of projects using BCI technologies. Day 1 was opened by local organisers Pavel Smetana and Cyril Kaplan, Waag Society’s Jurre Ongering on behalf of the BrainHack consortium, and STARTS initiative representatives Peter Friess and Luis-Miguel Girao. Technical mentors were introduced. Participants introduced ideas, and during the team-forming stage, joined into groups to work together for the remainder of the weekend. Technical presentations from IBM and OpenVibe followed. At the end of the evening, teams reported on the status of their projects and asked for any assistance they needed from fellow participants or mentors. On Day 2, the teams continued to work to improve and refine their projects, which include animation and sonification of EEG data, a virtual instrument to be played by the brain, a project which will stimulate the brain to remain at the optimal level for work if the user’s concentration or focus begin to slip, and a kinetic “worm” statue which will change shape in response to brain signals. The afternoon session featured talks from artist Peter Friess, and jury members Beatrice de Gelder, Pier Luigi Capucci, Achilleas Kentonis and Brandon Allison who discussed various aspects of their own work.

 

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Neuro kinetic sculpture – Brain Worm

How can the brain move a kinetic sculpture made of inflating and deflating car tires? That’s the challenge the team of Krystof Kaplan, Vlasta Koudelka, and Dmitri Berzon. They have set out to create an application to be used by an individual connected to the sculpture using an OpenVibe interface controlling air pressure tubes via the open source software.

brain worm photo

From the team’s github page: “The kinetic worm can move and breathe using its pneumatic mussels made of 24 tires. Extra eight tires are constantly inflated and form a sculpture skeleton. OpenVibe is connected to NeuroSky Mindwave mobile device and further analyze the eeg stream to obtain a robust eeg marker. Relative frontal alpha power was chosen to measure a level of concentration.”

My immediate question was to the neuro-imaging engineer, Vlasta, was whether this project he was mentoring is also interesting for his field of research.

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We know the brain is able to change its functions to a certain extent (a person loosing a neural ability such as sight, or improving their hearing or certain other brain functions, for instance). Can the brain be used directly as a device or as more of a muscle that operates the kinetic sculpture activating other parts of the brain that one would need to make ones hand operate the worm?

Collaborators

  • Krystof Kaplan is an artist and author of kinetic sculpture dedicated and designed for BCI and neuro-feedback purposes
  • Vlastimil Koudelka is an engineer and researcher in neuro-imaging, machine learning, and optimization
  • Dmitri Berzon is a Concept developer / Light designer, Programmer, Conceptual artist specializing in interactive installations
  • Cyril Kaplan is a psychologist specializing on EEG correlates of mental and emotional activity, music producer, openVibe and PD programmer.