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Lux Thalamus is a series of 26 brain wave reactive light bulbs.
The lights monitor the brain waves of a performer in real-time and respond to fluctuations in concentration levels during performance. The light installation is an investigation into the hyper-intimate of performance spaces, questioning whether biofeedback can be used to establish an atmosphere of increased intimacy between audience and performer. The installation is named after the thalamus, the part of the brain responsible for the filtering of attention and sensory information.
During intense concentration, such as playing more motorical and cognitively demanding piano sequences, or induced high concentration, such as forcing the brainwaves to a calm state by thinking of only one thought, the lights go dark.
During normal play, the rising of the accumulated brainwaves, release waves of light in the bulbs, emanating from the performer. The bulbs are built on the DMX protocol and mapped in Touchdesigner so the bulbs closest to the performer reveal when a fluctuation happens, and the wave then travels through to the bulbs further away (see mapping).
The brainwaves (DELTA (0.5-4 Hz), THETA (4-8 Hz), ALPHA (8-13 Hz), BETA (13-32 Hz) and GAMMA (32-100 Hz)) are measured by a Muse 2 headband and the mapping to lights is based on Muse’s description and research into waves and meditation states.
Interestingly, the mapping of the lights in Lux Thalamus yield surprisingly well-timed musical correspondance, in terms of evoked feelings. The waves (and therefore lights) will get very bright in moments of high emotional intensity, making the feedback loop between musician and lighting feel extremely in synch. When in performance, the lights are further mapped to vocal intensity, such that they gain extra brightness at key musical moments, which further enhances the feedback look.
The lights were created as an artist to artist collaboration with musician Hayden Thorpe.
Whose thoughts on music and the hyper-intimate have been a huge inspiration in the creation of the lights.
ITP Light art show curated by light artist James Clar, solo, December 12, 2019
New York University, New York.
National Sawdust with Hayden Thorpe, November 5th, 2019
National Sawdust, New York.