Drawing with brainwaves
The Alhambra Mandala project is about connecting your inner space to a physical art work, where a fleeting change in your attention immediately affects the nature of the art. It is also about bringing new digital magic and the latest neuroscience research in contact with ancient Islamic traditions, and show how unique subjective variation can imbue and enrich an old and rigid objective order.
The project takes its inspiration from the classic tessellations in the 11th century Alhambra castle in Granada (Spain). The architectural culmination of the Islamic ornamental handicraft found there has inspired many artists throughout the centuries, and the same n-star rosette motif is ubiquitous throughout the Arab world.
At the same time it is making use of a new brainwave sensor that detects the level of concentration and mindfulness of the viewer. The challenge of the project was to both learn to talk to the new EEG devices, interpret the signals in a meaningful way, and then translate that input into artistic representations adhering to the traditional Islamic symmetries.
I chose to use earthtone colours and geometrical shapes to indicate concentration, and celestial colours and organic shapes to indicate mindfulness.
A user can wear the brainwave sensor and create a recorded session. The signal is translated into a unique real-time kaleidoscope pattern that fits into a classic Alhambra tessellation. As the two dimensions – concentration & mindfulness – coexist and blend, so does the resulting pattern.
The result is a continuously evolving tapestry, which adheres to the timeless mathematical rules of objectively beautiful symmetries, whilst at the same time captures the subjectively fleeting mind of the viewer during a brief moment in time.
Alhambra Mandalas Interview
Alhambra Mandalas // Making of part 1
Alhambra Mandalas // Making of part 2
Alhambra Mandalas // Making of part 3
The installation can be made available for a suitable space, and the resulting tapestry can also be printed. Here are examples of the hires PDFs that can be saved directly from the software and opened in Illustrator etc. This makes it easy to print wallpapers of your brainwave tessellations.