Brainwaves and water
One project that stood out at Nuit Blanche this year was an interactive piece by Lisa Park called “Eunoia II.”
In this installment, Park arranged 48 speakers beneath disks filled with water. They were organized in a web-like formation, with the larger disks in the centre branching into smaller ones. The number 48 represents the 48 emotions that humanity is able to understand.
To participate in this art piece, Park connected volunteers to electrodes. She then linked her participants to an app she developed that reads brainwaves. These brainwaves were then converted to music that played through the speakers and caused the water to vibrate. Every hour, an interpretive dancer danced in the centre of Park’s installation. As she danced, she was connected to electrodes and moved in accordance to her own brainwaves.
The dancer’s movements were simple, but combined with her brainwaves resounding throughout the audience, it was a truly spectacular experience. Dance is already an intimate expression of one’s feelings. With the added element of electrodes reading your exact emotions, there was nowhere to hide. When the dancer performed frantic motions, you could see the excitement in her brain activity. When she retreated into slower movements, her brain activity was still. The sound of the water vibrating to her brainwaves was contagious; when the music ceased, it felt like it had become a part of you. I’m amazed that Park provided a medium to convey the most intimate aspects of human emotion.
Curated by Camille Hong Xin and created by Luzinterruptus, “Literature vs. Traffic” was certainly one of my favorite installations at Nuit Blanche this year. The interactive project transformed Hagerman Street into an enormous, overflowing collection of books and lights. The road contained a seemingly endless array of books that varied in size, colour, and topic. Vehicles were prevented from driving on the street all night, in a symbolic act where the books overcame the rush of the city. “Literature vs. Traffic” intended to signify the importance of printed books in our increasingly digitized world.
The power of the written word resonated with the audience, if only just for one night. This piece was lovely because it represented the dichotomy between reality and books. To me, it felt like my inner thoughts were colliding with the real world. This feeling was strangely reassuring, although a little unsettling.
I found it effective that the audience had the opportunity to walk by all the books and stop and examine them, rather than seeing them from afar. This added to the interactive aspect and made the experience more personal.
For readers and non-readers alike, there was something both sublime and serene about the setting. There was a general feeling of appreciation towards the books, and this was comforting. Many people were awed at the immensity of the project – the amount of books layering the street was overwhelming. It was fascinating how all the books contained different stories and were presented to the audience in such an open and welcoming fashion. This sharing of knowledge and this love of literature truly meant something to me.
At the end of the night, people were allowed to take the books home with them, which added to the transcendence of this piece.
“Literature vs. Traffic” was more than an art installation, as the audience had the opportunity to own a piece of it. This project transformed the street for a night, but left a long-lasting impact on those who experienced and acquired a book or two.