DREAM 2.2 
An Interactive Art Experience Controlled by Brainwaves. By Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, TAIWAN, February-June 2018
DREAM 2.2 is an immersive, interactive art installation and performance by PluginHUMAN. This projection mapping artwork gives form to our mind’s ephemeral data. Audiences wear an EEG headset. They use their neural activity (brainwaves) to alter the installation’s audio and visuals. In doing this, audiences experience their dreams come alive. They can also, in a poetic sense, walk in the dreams of others. DREAM 2.2 performances feature two sleeping teenagers. Their brainwaves control the exhibition’s projection mapped visuals and trigger audio effects.
The immersive artwork DREAM 2.2 by PluginHUMAN.
This interactive art experience features PluginHUMAN’s original brain-computer interface. They used the software suites TouchDesigner and Ableton Live to design the system. The system also involves commercial EEG (electroencephalogram) headsets. These headsets track the electrical activity of the brain. This provides audiences with a projection mapping immersive art experience and a personalised connection to their neural data.
THE INSTALLATION SPACE
The DREAM 2.2 immersive art installation features a ‘brain forest’; a 13m x 6m rectangular maze. The maze is made from 100 hand-painted, 4-meter-high PVC panels that hang from the ceiling. When people move through the maze they are surrounded by abstract projection-mapped visuals. The outer walls are covered in reflective mirrors. The effect of the mirrored walls and the effect of the projection-mapped maze creates a mesmerising, uncanny immersive art experience shaped by neural data, light projections, reflections and quadrophonic sound.
This artwork also features a poem that is projection-mapped onto the front of the installation’s resting platform. DREAM 2.2 performer Coco Disco wrote the poem, drawing inspiration from their own dreams. The poem operates as a linguistic tool that further assists audiences to immerse themselves in the otherworldly, dreamlike environment of the installation.
THE AUDIENCE’S INTERACTIVE ART EXPERIENCE
During the installation audience members can sit or lie down on the DREAM 2.2 resting platform. Each person wipes their forehead with a disposable wet cloth before interacting with the system . This removes any oils and residue from the skin and allows the EEG’s sensors to form a reliable connection with their forehead. One person at a time can use the EEG system. People are able to interact with the system for approximately 5 minutes. If there is not a queue of people waiting, they can use the system for a longer timeframe.
Audiences can also view a tablet displaying graphs of the neural data that is controlling the installation. The five graphs on our display track changes in Alpha, Beta, Delta, Theta and Gamma neural signals. When no one is wearing the EEG headset, the graph’s lines are flat. As soon as the EEG is securely placed onto someone’s forehead, the graphical lines move, tracking changes in neural activity. This provides audiences with a traditional scientific display of their neural data, and it’s a clear indication that the headset is working. When they wear the headset, the audience member’s neural activity controls the audio and visuals in the installation space. Their neural function forms abstract visuals that are projected onto the surrounding maze and they trigger audio effects. Different neural function creates different audio-visual effects, so everyone’s experience is unique.
DREAM 2.2 performances feature two sleeping performers and PluginHUMAN. PluginHUMAN assign visual and audio effects to the performers’ neural data in real-time. This data is then projection-mapped onto the exhibition’s maze. The data takes the form of abstract visualisations. The audio consists of a 30-minute electronic soundtrack. When the performers generate specific neural signals, new audio sounds are automatically triggered and layered over the soundtrack. The performers’ neural data is delivered via Bluetooth from the EEG headsets to a third party non-proprietary app. The app divides the neural signals into five signal bands; Delta, Beta, Gamma, Alpha and Theta.
RELATED ACADEMIC PUBLICATION
Betty Sargeant ~ Artist (maze design), producer
Justin Dwyer ~ Artist (projection mapping), programmer
Coco Disco ~ Performer, writer
Levi Dwyer ~ Performer
Andrew Ogburn ~ Composer
RELATED BRAINWAVE ARTWORKS
PluginHUMAN have created a series of neural controlled artworks. DREAM 2.2 is part of a wider art investigation. Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer have created five interactive art installations and immersive art experiences that involve their custom brain-computer interface. These include the immersive art experience Inter-Dream, and the multi-sensory performance The Loop.
PluginHUMAN is a multi-award-winning art duo led by Dr Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer. PluginHUMAN are at the progressive edge of their field, providing audiences with new cultural, environmental and scientific perspectives. Their artworks address the leading questions and concerns of our times.
PluginHUMAN’s work centres around the art of illumination. They create projection mapping, video artworks and led immersive multi-sensory environments. They use the medium of light to translate complex data into meaningful audience experiences.
PluginHUMAN has created commissioned artworks for institutions such as the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan), the Asia Culture Centre (South Korea), Questacon (Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre), the Melbourne Museum (White Night Festival, Australia) and Experimenta (Australian triennial touring media art exhibition). They have exhibited in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. PluginHUMAN were awarded the Rupert Bunny Foundation Visual Art Fellowship (2019/20); they’re developing new carbon neutral and carbon negative materials and working methods. They have also won Good Design Awards (2020 and 2018), and a Victorian Premier’s Design Award (2017).
PluginHUMAN has an acute understanding of the role that technology plays in contemporary society. They reimagine new technologies to produce artistic innovations, creating meaningful large and small scale audience experiences for indoor spaces and outdoor public arenas.