Does function affect our perception of beauty?
Three artists respond to the results of a neurological study exploring perceptions of beauty and functionality.
Working with raw EEG data collected during the study, each artist has interpreted the data and accompanying results within their own medium
Working with neuroscientists, we explored what goes through our minds when we encounter objects for the first time. Specifically, we looked at how our brains respond to form and function and the relationship between them.
We wanted to take the functional data from the research and give it form. To do this we commissioned three artists, inviting them to explore, examine and reinterpret the data and key findings from the study using their own medium.
These commissions continue to build on Ideal Standard’s long heritage in the arts kicked off in the 1960s through the Sala Espressioni in Milan.
Starting with an example of functional beauty from nature, Kilic was inspired by a defence mechanism in which butterfly wings change colour depending on movement and the resulting light that hits them. Bringing this inspiration together with the EEG data, Kilic used Theta brain activity to create 21 ‘wing’ formations, Alpha activity to determine the light that hits them and finally Beta data to determine their movement.
The end result, an installation and resulting film that brings the data to life in kinetic form in space.
An Interpretation of Perception
Dunseath’s work uses the topographical data graphs as a start point, bringing them to life using real world imagery. The movement is organic and familiar and representative of the brain waves they are associated with: sharp and erratic for the Beta waves and slow and milky for the Theta waves. The imagery takes the viewer back inside the brain whilst simultaneously reminding them of the beautiful and functional elements so often seen in nature.
Using a custom designed piece of software, movement in the animation is generated by measuring the ever changing brain voltages across 21 spots on the brain. It then interprets this EEG data into an animation where the numbers themselves determine the pulses, flows and movements shown in the animation. Able to read data in real time, Moos’ software system and resulting animation feel alive, providing a visual translation of the brain’s activity around the themes of beauty and function.