[ISEA2017] Paper: Caitilin de Berigny, Karen Cochrane, Youngdong Kim, Lian Loke & Claudia Núñez Pacheco — Visualising the Meditating Mind: the Aesthetics of Brainwave Data


Keywords: Biological Data, Brainwaves, EEG, Meditation, Mindfulness, Visualisation

Meditation is an ancient Eastern practice, which is receiving renewed popularity as a secular approach to health and well-being. Recent advances in commercial EEG sensor technology provide opportunities for visualising biological brainwave data by artists and designers, outside the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry. We chart the creative development of an aesthetic visualisation, Narcissus Brainwave that aims to provide insight into the shifting states of mind during the practice of meditation, informed by a series of user studies with meditators and non-meditators. Interestingly, assumptions we made from the interpretation of brain- wave sensor data about when a meditative state was achieved did not always resonate with how meditators understood the quality of their inner meditation experience. This may be due in part to the limitations of a single electrode EEG device. Issues also arose related to personal preferences and cultural conventions for interpreting the meaning of the Buddhist-inspired visual symbols representing our model of meditation. Our study has revealed some of the challenges of visualising the meditating mind and creating meaningful aesthetic visualisations with commercial devices.

  • Caitilin de Berigny, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Dr Caitilin de Bérigny is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Design at the University of Sydney. She is a an author, artist, advocate for the homeless, and the Indigenous Advisor for Sydney University. Caitilin is leading the Health & Creativity Node at the Charles Perkins Centre. The node examines ways that design, art and music contribute to pubic health. She is a member of the Sydney Environment Institute. In 2016-2018, she was awarded an ARC grant ($433,000) in collaboration with the Australian National Museum and Natural History Museum in New York. Caitilin has been awarded grants, exhibited and published widely internationally. She was awarded scholarships to study at prestigious institutions: École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and Marseille. She has lived and worked internationally in Paris, France and in Seattle in the USA. caitilin.com.au
  • Lian Loke, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, pursues an interdisciplinary creative practice across performance, installation and technology, with the body as a constant theme. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Design Lab, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney, and co-founder of the Pork Collective, a group of artists working in performance installation in festival environments. Recent projects investigating creative agency and bodily experience in technology-mediated contexts include Distributed Choreographies and Sensate Machines with Dagmar Reinhardt, a 2012 Critical Path residency for the My Mind Y/Our Body project with Michaela Davies, and 2010 Australia Council Inter-Arts Project grant for Luscious Apparatus. lianloke.com
  • Youngdong Kim, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia is an interaction design researcher at the Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute in Korea.
  • Claudia Núñez-Pacheco, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia is a design researcher and PhD candidate investigating how bodily self-awareness can be used as a tool for human self-discovery.
  • Karen Cochrane, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia is a PhD candidate, researching the design and use of technologies to support mindfulness for reducing stress.

Full text (PDF) p. 171-180