Muse Within

February 26, 2021

This project/research was born out of the want to collaborate while in isolation at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Curiosity lead me on a quest to create a bespoke system for improvising with oneself by way of brainwaves in realtime while maintaining spontaneity.

In my ever evolving inquiry into technologically mediated creative expression, the world of possibility that resides within seeming limitations and restriction became the playground in 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown. I began experimenting with brain activity as a way to simulate a multi-agent* improvisation experience while in isolation. I built Muse Within - a bespoke prototype instrument (DMI) that uses brainwaves to create sound and spectral time delays. It comprises the Muse brain sensing headband, Mind Monitor, Ableton and Max. At the beginning of 2021 I ran test sessions with a professional jazz musician drummer who has experienced physical traumatic brain injury due to brain cancer treatement. Although fully recovered, his health concerns kept him from gigging once lockdown lifted. In a controlled experiment I collected data of audio evoked potentials (AEVP) while he improvised with Muse Within as a sort-of prosthetic extension of interactivity and dynamic expression. This allowed him to improvise with own brain activity as a feedback loop. (Documentation & a video of his performance is underway.)

*Multi-agent Brain Computer Interface in the arts was seen as a manifestation of interconnectivity, a broadening of self-reference to encompass multiple selves.” -Nijholt, A., (2019). Brain Art: Brain-Computer Interfaces for Artistic Expression. Springer. NY, NY.