Lisa Park, born in the year 1987, is a Korean-American artist who currently resides in New York, United States, and she has developed a truly fascinating art form. She is arguably known best for her work with biofeedback devices. Park has worked with heart-rate sensors, commercial brainwave headsets, and more in order to display “physiological measurements as auditory and visual representations,” according to her personal website. Not only does this allow her to explore the possibilities there are in self-monitoring, but also “personal psychological states within each piece” (1, 2).
Park earned her BFA in Fine Art at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, going on to earn her MPS in Interactive Telecommunications at NYU Tisch School of the Arts in New York. It was her art performance called Eunoia that caught many people’s attention, however. The title is of Greek origin, deriving from the word “eu” meaning “well” and “nous” which means “mind,” translating to “beautiful thinking”. According to Park’s personal website “Eunoia used a consumer-grade EEG brainwave headset to obtain real-time feedback for this performance piece.” (1, 2, 3)
Can Your Thoughts Affect The Physical Environment?
In essence, Eunoia is carefully constructed of 48 vibration pools that were directly inspired by the 48 emotions philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, as outlined in his book, Ethica. The emotions include things such as frustration, sadness, engagement, mediation, and excitement, and each of the pools vibrates according to the brainwave interpreting algorithm transferred by the signals sent from Park’s Emotiv EEG headset into the speakers below each pool of water. The headset that Park wears is able to physically manifest her current internal mental state by causing disruptions in the water, “offering a direct visualization of thought and emotion” (1, 2, 3)
According to Park’s website, “During the performance, Park used the headset to measure brain activities, so they could be translated into sound waves, and then transmitted via Bluetooth to produce sounds through Reaktor and Max/MSP. Standing in the center of five flat 24-inch dishes containing a thin layer of water, the sounds produced would mirror the intensity of the artist’s real-time thoughts and emotions.” Therefore, these modulations of sound, emphasized by volume, speed, and panning, occur as real-time reactions to her emotional values as detected by the EEG sensor. Park is placing all her inner struggles out on display as the entire show depends entirely on how she deals with her internal feelings. (1, 2, 3)
The Power Of Your Mind
Park says, “I started working with biosensors especially EEG headset, because I questioned, ‘how can I take this invisible energy and emotions and make it visible? When I am feeling certain emotions (anger, sadness, happiness), I believe that what’s inside me, more than 60% of water in human body, will create vibrations/energy within myself. So, I wanted to create an artwork that represents the inner part of myself.” (1)
You can find a video of Eunoia on Park’s personal site where you can view the fascinating portrayal of internal emotion as it plays out in delicate water ripples and sound. (3).