EEG as a Controller for Psychedelic Visual Music in an Immersive Dome Environment

Jonathan Weinel, Stuart Cunningham, Nathan Roberts, Shaun Roberts, Darryl Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Altered States of Consciousness (ASC), and hallucinogenic experiences in particular have formed the basis for many works of art, literature and music. In my compositional practices I have explored the use of visual patterns of hallucination in particular as a basis for the design of electroacoustic music, and electroacoustic audio-visual or ‘visual music' compositions (Weinel 2012). While many existing works of psychedelic art and visual music exist in fixed mediums such as film, we may conceive of interactive audio-visual experiences of this type. Such interactive artworks may be facilitated with computers, utilising video game engines or real-time sound and graphics software, together with an appropriate controller. The longterm goal of research in this area is to devise machines that are capable of transferring the sounds and visuals of dreams and hallucinations from the human brain into digital technologies. The proper realisation of this is beyond our capability with current technology, existing only in science fiction movies like Paprika (2006). Nonetheless, this article discusses an approximation of such as system. For Psych Dome (Weinel 2013a), we used a consumer-grade electroencephalograph (EEG) headset so that brainwaves could be used to provide real-time control over a visual music artwork based upon visual patterns of hallucination. In doing so we are able to provide a system that conceptually links1 the human brain to generative hallucinatory forms in digital media. In this article, I will discuss aesthetic and technical aspects of this project as used in our initial trial, where the artwork was presented in an immersive dome projection environment. Additionally, some testing of human participants was carried out, enabling us to provide some general comment on the usefulness of a consumer-grade EEG headset in the context of real-time visual music installations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-89
JournalSonic Ideas/Ideas Sonicas
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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