Brain in a Box


For our Data Visualization class we had to make a response to Jim Campbell’s article called Delusions of Dialogue. I’ve summarized it in an earlier post. What I took from it was that interactive art is at its best when the machine adopts mysterious and motivated behaviour. For this project, my teammate, Rola proposed the intriguing idea of using the brain as an interface and nondescript memories as the content. Brains are quite mysterious. They are small and pink, gooey and squishy, complex and necessary. Everyone I know has a brain and I expect most would be able to recognize one when they see one. Just as ubiquitous as brains are too life, as are memories. Everyone has memories, first day of school, first kiss, first drink… Then there are the memories that are not as pronounced. Subtle memories made when you zone out like in the car, watching birds fly, or staring at your ceiling in the morning. We want to get people thinking about these moments from their past .

Above is the beginning of the box. I made the black box as a mental jump to an airplane’s black box that holds the precious moments during flight. I did however add a bow to indicate the preciousness of the contents and it increase the user’s desire to open it (conditioning from Christmas). I did not want to imitate the fissures of the brain because I think they look ghastly. I chose the swirls because there is depth to them. They remind me of Van Gogh’s Starry Night a whirl pool.  To the left is my progress so far. The aluminum foil swirls are buttons that will trigger memories when people touch them. I turned them into buttons using the capSense processing library. The wires run under the swirls and exit at the brain stem. I am hoping that memory media will coordinate with the different sections of the brain. Visuals to the occipital lobe, audio to the temporal lobe. Even though its art, doesn’t mean we can’t try to be scientifically correct.

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