ICT & Art Connect : Revelations by Flicker, Dreamachines and Electroencephalographic signals in art

Abstract.  How did ordinary tools in the Neurophysiology department become means for spiritual enlightenment ?
The combination of brainwave (EEG) monitoring by the early adopters with stroboscopes induced side-effects in many of the clinical experimentees in neurophysiological research,  hallucinations that were named ‘Flicker.’ Patient’s experiences described increasingly bright, complex patterns of colour behind their closed eyelids. Soon Cyberneticians, psychologists and artists were spontaneously informing this interdisciplinary exchange, during a time of pioneering chemistry, new artistic styles and implementation of new tools for experiencing Art. An aleatoric crossover occurred between Dr Grey Walter’s neurological research with strobes and electroencephalographs, and the culture of ‘The Beats’ following his publication of “The Living Brain.” Unifying this is the hypnotic light ensemble the ‘Dreamachine’. Now  an object synonymous with generating visions by Flickering patterns, and for many, a drugless portal to Altered States on Consciousness (ASC). This article  follows the involvement of Human brainwaves in artistic expressions as pioneered by composer Alvin Lucier almost 50 years ago. The harnessing of the EEG signal in interactive artworks encourages dialogue and updatable synergy between the arts and the sciences. Through medical research into Epilepsy and visual artefact I trace the emergence of EEG in artworks. I will describe how artists’ work, including my own is harnessing the EEG signal, bridging various methods and arousing questions in art and human experience.