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Preview: ‘BRAIN’ at Blockfort

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Preview: ‘BRAIN’ at BlockfortArtists Eve Warnock, Stacie Sells, Pelham Johnston and Marque Reavely (not featured) of OBLSK are the creators of the installation "BRAIN" at Blockfort. Photo by Taijuan Moorman.
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OBLSK, a creative marketing agency made up of artists, designers, and inventors, will unveil a multi-sensory, interactive installation called “BRAIN” at Blockfort, 162 N. Sixth St., from March 7-31.

For “BRAIN,” the group will use an EEG sensor, which attaches to the forehead and reads brain electrical activity, paired with a visual element to represent the user’s brainwaves.

There are four main categories that brainwaves can be in, ranging from the most to least activity: Beta, which happens when we’re in a highly engaged state of mind; alpha, representing non-arousal or a state of rest; theta, when we are in a daydreaming or in an active dreaming state; and delta, which represents deep sleep.

The sensor will compute the length, frequency, and amplitude of each brainwave. This will coincide with visual elements to show the average of all the brainwave states, says OBLSK co-founder Pelham Johnston.

Thin mesh screens will be used to visually represent user’s brain activity, similar to what’s shown above. Photo by Taijuan Moorman.

“This is a way for people to see feedback, in real time,” says Johnston. “… Giving people the opportunity to see different brain wave states they’re in, and then control it by seeing feedback based on how they’re feeling.”

“It does look a little bit intimidating … These connections on your head and wires coming down,”  says Stacie Sells, another artist with the group.

The installation will also include a more interactive audio element, where users can play a pipe organ using a bellows (a contracting device that emits air) that is squeezed by their own body weight. Eventually, this sound will also be based on the user’s brainwaves, creating different tones and chords based on brain activity.

Throughout the month, OBLSK will use the gallery space in a number of ways, including a sound performance on Thursday, March 14, and a sensory experiment led by the group the following Thursday.

“We’re gonna use it as an opportunity to watch people interact with it, and see what works, what’s having a lot of impact, and what isn’t,” says Johnston, “and then making changes to it to develop the project over the month.”

BRAIN is the second part of a larger experimental series by OBLSK, where the artists use sensors in coordination with biometric data. The first featured a device that performed heart rates with water and a steel drum.

“There’s a certain material and visual poetry happening,” says Johnston, “With the idea of the bellows being like a human lung, and it’s driving this organ, kind of like the vocal chords … It’s kind of like augmenting the person with a larger body.”

He continues: “It’s also giving people access to themselves in ways you normally don’t get access, in real time, to what your brain is doing.”

“BRAIN” will be on display at Blockfort from Thursday, March 7 to Sunday, March 31. For more information on OBLSK visit oblskinc.com.

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