China Blue’s current work is focused on the brain. This work is an expansion of her two decades of experience created sound art works that focus on researching and developing data sonification. This sound art work led to discovering the hidden acoustics embedded in the iron of the Eiffel Tower, submerged in Venice’s water or encased in NASA’s Vertical Gun chamber.
“Understanding how the brain works is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. The human brain is the source of our thoughts, emotions perceptions, actions and memories; it confers on us the abilities to make us human, while simultaneously making each of us unique. Over recent years neuroscience has advanced to the level that we can envision a comprehensive understanding of the brain in action.” National Institute of Health
China Blue’s series of paintings titled Memory Networks explore how we connect and hold on to our life experiences. Our recollections occur in fragments that arrive as flashes detached from time. Because memory is transient, Memory Network paintings propose a network as a method to connect and save our experiences.
Based on the voids created by Alzheimer’s, the artist fills the empty spaces with aluminum-based paint, designing shiny globules and connects them to make stunning examples of one way to hold onto our thoughts and experiences. Modeled after neural nets by linking them and preserving them in beautiful figurative abstract images, China Blue is proposing one way to safeguard our recollections.
Transitioning from understanding how the brain works to accessing its deep mechanisms for artistic creation is a giant leap. This has only recently become feasible due to the explosive developments in non-invasive sensor technology and mobile computation, putting what was previously limited to the domain of expensive laboratory equipment into the hands of private experimenters. The combination of wearable EEG brainwave technology with custom coded software products has come together for the first time in Imagining Blue a unique way for individuals to both see and hear their own brain in action as well as produce images generated by their brainwaves as they try to imagine a simple yet pervasive idea: to imagine blue.
The Brain Bank Project which consists of the Imagining Blue sculpture installation and MindDraw which captures four classes of brainwaves – alpha, beta, gamma and theta – each of which are observed when the user’s brain is in that particular state. The alpha state is observed during wakeful relaxation, the beta waves occur during the waking state of consciousness, the slower theta state is observed during meditative conditions and the gamma wave state is observed during alert awake behavior and is considered a way to measure consciousness.
Brain Bank Projects is a pioneering work that provides new access to cognitive and emotional domains and demonstrates that we can actually drive our external reality via internal mental states. This work illustrates that if art reflects reality in its relation to mankind then seeing our brain activity reflected as art is the most direct avenue to viewing creation and the state of being.
China Blue is interested in how our world is built from our sensations and perceptions and how this emerging umwelt provides not only a basis for exploring the inner world of the mind, but also how technological extensions of our senses, provide a way to transcend their limits. Her work enhances the audience’s perceptual world through her investigations and explorations into bioacoustics, ultra and infrasonic sampling devices, brain wave monitoring, and robotic sensory avatars.
All images courtesy and copyright of China Blue
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