Visualising the Meditating Mind: the Aesthetics of Brainwave Data
Lian Loke, Caitilin de Berigny, Youngdong Kim, Claudia Núñez Pacheco and Karen Cochrane / Australia
University of Sydney
Meditation is an ancient Eastern practice, which is receiving renewed popularity as a secular approach to health and well-being. Recent advances in commercial EEG sensor technology provide opportunities for visualising biological brainwave data by artists and designers, outside the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry. We chart the creative development of an aesthetic visualisation, Narcissus Brainwave that aims to provide insight into the shifting states of mind during the practice of meditation, informed by a series of user studies with meditators and non-meditators. Interestingly, assumptions we made from the interpretation of brain- wave sensor data about when a meditative state was achieved did not always resonate with how meditators understood the quality of their inner meditation experience. This may be due in part to the limitations of a single electrode EEG device. Issues also arose related to personal preferences and cultural conventions for interpreting the meaning of the Buddhist-inspired visual symbols representing our model of meditation. Our study has revealed some of the challenges of visualising the meditating mind and creating meaningful aesthetic visualisations with commercial devices.