Mind Over Matter

By Carla Rapoport August 23, 2018

With just over a month to go before the 7th Lumen Prize Gold Award is announced,  I thought I’d check in with our sixth winner, Thijs Biersteker, the talented Dutch artist based in Amsterdam.


Never one to sit still, Thijs is in the midst of launching a collaborative work with the legendary US graphic designer, David Carson, best known for his innovative magazine designs and experimental typography.


Their new work, Mind over Matter is a brainwave-controlled art installation which aims to show that if we keep our focus on the right things in life, the world doesn’t spin out of control.


As Thijs explains: “Our world today is more fragile than ever. This work shows what happens when we lose focus on the most important thing in life, our ecosystem.”  In this Techno Poetic installation driven by combined brainwaves, collected with the use of EEG’s, the audience controls a giant spherical installation. When they keep a calm, meditative state of mind the world stays in balance, but when one person loses focus the planet spins out of control into a collage of waste explosions, floods and pollution clouds. Carson’s new collage art style has been put in motion using randomised algorithms.


And like the very best interactive works, this one immerses the audience in their materialised collective state of mind, and allows them to co-create the piece together with the artists.


We were surprised to see how meditative and connective this heavy digital experience was for the audience. It clearly showed that those who have practised meditation before were able to ‘master’ the installation within a few minutes.” Thijs remarks.


Reading Minds


The work seems to depend on the audience to taking more than the usual 20 seconds people spend with a traditional piece of art. How do you get the audience to participate? Thijs replies: “I think we designed an experience that shows the idea visually in an enticing way, but also breeds curiosity to see how the piece will react on your brain waves”


David adds, “We noticed people take up to 3-4 min to engage in the piece,” which is quite amazing in today’s on/off world. In answer to a question on how his design skills helps with making this work appealing to audiences, he says:  “In some ways it’s the way I’ve always worked, I try to evoke emotion in my work.  So the starting point is to produce work that emotionally hits people. That’s when they really get involved.”


As for whether these two might collaborate in the future, David says: “Absolutely. this is the very tip of a mind-boggling scope of potential integration and human experience. I cant wait for version 2.0.” And this from Thijs: “Working with David reminded me about the power of tactile experiences that get lost in digital art. I see this as the first step and hope to keep evolving it, making it bigger, and for more people.  I think secretively I would love to have a hundred people do this and see if they can get In sync with each other.”


Mind over Matter will premiere at the NewWerktheater in Amsterdam on the 14th of September.


Project :  http://thijsbiersteker.com/project/mindovermatter/




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