~e; altered EM mindstates

From human being <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Mon, 1 Jul 2002 09:35:00 -0500



  [the following story seems to have it all. current events,
  and brain-wave-output to synthesizer for visualized music.]

Art as a State of Mind

By Gene J. Koprowski
2:00 a.m. July 1, 2002 PST

From Wired News, available online (with hyperlinks) at:
http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,52940,00.html


Paras Kaul really lets you know what's on her mind.

While most artists use paint brush on canvas or another medium to get
concepts across, Kaul expresses her ideas with a brain-wave interface.

She's been experimenting with the technology for years and appears
poised for a breakthrough. Her newest creation, Peace Streams -- a
combination of poetry, music, graphics, video and hypnosis technique
-- debuts on August 1 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
in Washington, D.C.

Chosen by the American Composers Forum from among a host of global
competitors, the piece was inspired, Kaul says, by her cousin, who
survived the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Though much of the art inspired by the attack has gained publicity on
the Internet ˝- Bruce Springsteen's latest CD is one -- Kaul's work
has an intensely personal feel. Little wonder, since Kaul's cousin
only recently left the hospital after undergoing more than six months
of burn treatment.

"She was on the 88th floor of the South Tower immediately after the
attack," said Kaul, who is on the faculty of the art department at
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. "If she was standing
just a few feet forward, or a few feet backward, she wouldn't have
made it. That was shocking. That was pretty much the inspiration for
Peace Streams: the role of fate."

Kaul's interest in this kind of work was sparked in her teens, during
the 1960s. Her father, a psychologist, taught her how to induce
altered states of consciousness through hypnosis. After attending the
Art Institute of Chicago, Kaul began researching how artists could
more easily self-induce an alpha state, that level of consciousness
believed to be optimal for creativity.

"It's the best state," Kaul said. "You're so balanced. You're
connected with the real world, but with higher consciousness as well."

In creating her work, which has been exhibited at SIGGRAPH and other
major graphics shows, Kaul consciously tries to enter an altered
state. But she thinks she can go even further.

Attending a recent trade show, Kaul saw a demonstration from IBVA
Technologies that let musicians send their brain waves to
synthesizers and make music.

Kaul reasoned that this technology ˝- a headband with three
electrodes, connected to a computer which reads and sends brain waves
to PCs and other devices -˝ could be used to create other forms of
art, including visual art.

"I knew I had to have that," she said. "And I didnÝt even have a
computer (at home) at the time."

To create the Peace Streams project, Kaul used an array of Macintosh
computers, including a G4 and Titanium. After writing the poem
conventionally and typing it into the computer, she turned inward on
herself.

Kaul thought about the poem, which in turn produced brain wave images,
based on her emotions, that were captured and edited using special
software. Separate audio and graphical tracks were composed.

Now they've been remixed for the Kennedy Center performance, said
Kaul, where hers will be part of a 60-minute show featuring artists
who took part in the Sonic Circuits competition. The "concert," as
organizers are calling it, will be free.

With the Kennedy Center show, Kaul's work may finally be hitting the
big time. She is preparing a proposal for the National Science
Foundation to study learning methods through the use of brain waves.
In this, she has a collaborator, William F. Reeder, dean of the
College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University.

"Paras is a unique talent," says Reeder. "Using brain waves, the
activity of her mind, to create new expression is really innovative.
It's a whole new canvas. It's very exciting. It's a way of escaping
gravity, so to speak."

Nor will Kaul be done experimenting with brain waves anytime soon. In
fact, she considers herself not just an artist, but a "neural artist
researcher." Her goal is to work in multimedia education development.

"Some day, we will all be communicating non-verbally," said Kaul.
"When that happens, our communications will be much more truthful and
emotional."

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