photo by LA Times

The Incredible Mental Scope

Users were outfitted with the headset and positioned to look out at the pulse of the night’s activity as it unfolds. The Amazing Mental Scope captured reactions to the sensational environment, and transformed these reactions into an emotive light sculpture in essence creating a public mental beacon for the excitement and fascinations felt throughout the night.

Participants had the chance to broadcast their inner brain wave activity into the night sky of Santa Monica. Artists Oliver Hess, Jenna Didier and Marcos Lutyens, created “The Amazing Mental Scope”, to project this experience into a spectacular lighting display at the end of the Santa Monica Pier at the dusk to dawn light and technology art festival as well as other venues in Los Angeles.

A new and emerging generation of low cost EEG (Electroencephalography) devices is beginning to help shed light on the brain’s unknown regions. We used a NeuroSky EEG headset, a device that measures the electrical activity in the brain, Hess used their system for real-time analysis of alpha and beta waves within the brain, to drive a series of multicolor LED wall washes from Color Kinetics.

Hess realized after the fact that he designed this device perhaps in some part based on the tripod weapon thing in The Empire Strikes Back.  He liked this as a child because it had this bulky technical unit that traveled with the weapon, probably a battery or something, and it seemed so impractical that I always liked its appearance.  The geometry of the parts were such a collection of very separate parts.

Concept by Oliver Hess, Marcos Lutyens and Jenna Dider

Design by Oliver Hess

Fabrication supervision by Marcos Lutyens

Produced with the generous help of Martina Dolejsova and Colin Tucker
Prototype EEG by Neurosky
LED systems by Color Kinetics
Fabrication by Flix FX
Hosted by Glow Festival, Santa Monica July 19th 2008.
LA Times Photo
Also shown at Terra-Byte 3, LA Arboretum Sept 14th 2008.
Also shown at East of Eden, Los Angeles Sept 20th 2008.