Synth Experiments

Brains have oscillations, which build our rhythm of walking, talking and singing. To study these oscillations, Electroencephalography (EEG) has been used as it has fine temporal resolution. The proposed project, Synth Experiments, is a unique approach to instrument a brain as a living synthesizer, using such oscillations. The technical idea is simple; one of the two performers (the synthesizer) wears an EEG headset, and EEG signals will be processed in real time to be sonified as live music. The originality is that the other performer (the controller) will disrupt the synthesizer as the brain modulates signals. Since a brain does not have any dials like an electronic synthesizer, the controller needs to interact with it in an indirect manner, such as guiding the synthesizer to relax to evoke alpha waves, or presenting flashing lights or beep sounds to force specific responses (SSVEP and ASSR). Therefore, the outcome of the experiments will not be only a live music, but also theatrical aspects, as two people interact to control the living synthesizer. The project requires programing for signal processing (Python) and for audio output (Max/MSP) but involves thorough real-world experiments as well, in order to compose the interaction.

Core team: 

Naoto Hieda is a multidisciplinary artist from Japan and based in Montreal, Canada. He received B.Eng. from Tokyo Institute of Technology (2012) and M.Eng. from McGill University (2015). His work focuses on tangible media and honest interaction, which has been exhibited internationally such as ACM CHI (USA) and Laval Virtual (France). Beyond engineering, his artistic practices range from neuroscience as a research assistant at International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (Canada) to dance, receiving danceWEB Scholarship 2016 (Austria). Currently he holds Pola Art Foundation Fellowship (Japan) as a visiting researcher at Topological Media Lab, Concordia University (Canada).​

Looking for: "I want to find, for example, a neuroscientist with a music background and willing to perform on a stage; or an architect skilled in programming and interested in conceptualizing the artistic interaction."