Looking Outwards: Brainball

by paulshen @ 4:09 pm 25 January 2010



I found this installation navigating the Ars Electronica archives. This piece uses state-of-the-art technology to critique our competitive nature. Two players compete by achieving calmness and passivity. A system measures the biological signals in the players’ brains to produce this metric.

I think it makes an interesting point, how the advancement of technology is supposed to make our lives easier but often induces more stress. This is also true of competition, which often cause adrenaline rushes. This piece encourages the opposite and presents this concept using advanced machines.

The following is the given description by the creators.

“Brainball” is three projects in one: it’s a game, it’s art and it’s R&D. Two players sit at a table facing one another. Their brainwaves are registered and then analyzed and interpreted by a Macromedia Director application that controls magnets mounted beneath the table. These magnets, in turn, influence the direction of a ball on the table’s surface. The ball rolls towards the player whose brainwaves indicate a higher state of relaxation. Here, the use of cutting-edge biosensors opens up interesting human-machine interaction possibilities.

We live in a world in which everything seems to be moving faster and faster. New technologies that are actually supposed to make our lives easier lead to a spiral of incessant acceleration. More and more people suffer from exhaustion and stress-related health problems.

1 Comment

  1. A classic project. I’m glad you found this. I especially love the counter-intuitive principle required to win the game. You have to relax more in order to win. Once things start going poorly for you, it’s hard to recover!

    Comment by golan — 27 January 2010 @ 6:43 am

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