The digital age we live in is characterized by the collection of large quantities of data; subsequently artists are examining this practice in their artworks. In doing so they are creating a platform to think about what the assembly of all this information signifies for each individual.
Lisa Park (1987) is an artist who compiles data using biofeedback devices*. In her most recent work she is concerned with externalizing her inner state. She uses an EEG headset to measure her brain activity, the data of which are being translated into sound and movement.
EUNOIA II is an installation with 48 speakers covered by aluminum plates carrying pools of water. 48 is not a random number, it represents the identification of 48 different emotions by philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). The title has also not been chosen arbitrarily, eunoia stands for ‘beautiful thought’, indicating Parks intention of visualizing her state of consciousness.
During a performance Park wears the EEG headset, which sends her brain data to an iPad. This, in turn, converts the information into unpredictable sound patterns. The vibration of the sound in the speakers then induces ripples in the water.
For TodaysArt Festival 2015 EUNOIA II was adapted to be experienced by individual members of its audience. After seeing and hearing the transcription of their own inner state, mainly their meditation and attention values, each person could see a diagram of their brain activity. Park had the app Eudaimonia especially developed for this ongoing social project. The diagrams show the uniqueness of every person as all the outcomes are different.
TodaysArt also saw the premiere of Parks NUE, a collaboration with the 4DSOUND team. Park wears a white silk dress, with a 150 meter train which is wrapped around the columns of the 4DSOUND installation. Fastened in the center at first Park slowly starts to untie the web of silk until she finally takes the dress off and walks of. The sound of the performance comes from her own brainwaves again; her focus and movements determine the sound sequences in the 4DSOUND system.
The word nue means silkworm in Korean, representing the tiny creature which was the source of inspiration for this performance. The silkworm weaves a cocoon to transform itself and then struggles to come out. Parks performance could be understood as a metaphor for life, every person ‘weaves’ a way of living, entailing life choices, identity, behavior and even style of clothing. Until something makes us want to change, then we fight to get out of the ‘cocoon’ and start anew.
In both artworks Park involves her audience. In EUNOIA II the public can even put on the headset and see and hear their brain activity. And in NUE the observers stand in the silk maze where Park walks among them, unraveling the silk train. She gets close to them and every now and then even leans against someone. More than just making visible and audible brain data Park seems interested in the response of her audience to the experience.
* Devices that measure bodily functions in real time.