by Alessandra Vertrees

Project Description

My honors project, “Entheogen,” is an immersive audiovisual installation that incorporates an in-depth analysis of how the perception of light, color, and audio can influence our mindfulness by inducing a psychological trance. The term “entheogen” colloquially refers to a psychoactive chemical used to produce an altered state of consciousness. I gave my project the title “Entheogen” because I believe art and new media have psychoactive qualities which have the power to transform consciousness. This belief has manifested an interest in exploring how integrated variations of light, color, and sound influence brain activity and alter brainwave frequencies.

Using the skills that I have developed as an Emerging Media student, I will design and create a nuanced installation that algorithmically controls light and sound to take a participant out of their normal state of being. I will use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure, record, and stream my brainwave frequencies. These brainwave frequencies will be interpreted by three synchronized computer programs that will control a generative musical composition, a responsive visualization, and series of color-changing LED strips. I will be using physical computing and signal processing software to write these programs for my project. All components of the installation will respond to EEG data. The generative visualization will accompany ambient tones and rhythms playing in the background. These components will slowly increase or decrease in complexity according to the information that they receive. The LED light strips will change color in response to the same information. Collectively, these components will add texture, depth, and emotion to the installation that will reveal to viewers how the brain responds to light, sound, and color.

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