Integrating Science and Art
EEG as Art: The "Headbang" Project
The "Headbang" Project took place in 2005, and was a collaborative piece of work between me and the Glasgow-based artist Victoria Skogsberg. Victoria came to take part in one of my experiments, and as part of the experimental debriefing, I showed her the raw EEG waveforms of the activity measured from her brain. I mentioned in passing that I always thought that the EEG waveforms were "beautiful", and not merely a product of a sensitive measurement device. This resulted in a discussion between the two of us about integrating elements of science and art, and the "Headbang" Project was born.
The first stage of the project involved setting up to record Victoria's brain activity using the EEG. Victoria then relaxed and attempted to effectively "calm" the waveforms, before generating a large "headbang" - a violent movement of the head. The EEG is so sensitive that even blinks or small muscle movements produce huge artefacts in the waveform. A "headbang" therefore creates a tremendous amount of noise in the EEG. This entire process was filmed.
Victoria took the waveforms and recordings of the process and created an installation art piece at the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh. It was funded by the Gallery and the Scottish Arts Council. I wrote a small article to be presented alongside the piece in order to describe and explain the technology involved in its creation.
This project was particularly interesting in the fact that movement artefacts are a primary issue that electrophysiologists strive to eliminate or avoid, whereas this project actively embraced an extreme form of this type of artefact for a very different purpose. It demonstrated one possible way in which art and science can come together from very different directions in order to produce a creative piece that neither discipline would have been inspired to produce on its own.
Read my guide on "Becoming a Parapsychologist". I wrote this to try and advise some of the students who contact me asking about this complex issue.