Imagining Thought in Digital Space


Session Title:

  • Brains in Electronic Arts

Presentation Title:

  • Imagining Thought in Digital Space



  •  (Short paper)

    Keywords: Thought form, mind-machine interface, thought-photography, thoughtography, science fiction, neuroimaging, neuroheadset, digital thinking.

    Scientists and artists have attempted to capture thought in the form of images for over a century. In the early twentieth century photographic plates and nitrate film were used by scientists, artists and “spiritualists” to record thoughts or mental energy, including thoughts, feelings and dreams, through the process of making physical contact with fingers or foreheads on light sensitive plates. With the discovery of X-ray photography around the same time, the photographic image played a role in validating claims about the possibility of revealing the invisible. These claims were further extended with the invention of electroencephalography (EEG) in 1924. EEG allowed for new possibilities in the study of neuronal activities and for identifying new patterns of thinking. The formation of these image-making practices, in both art and science, laid the foundations for how we literally and figuratively re-imagine and express images of thought in the 21st century. In this short paper we provide an account of “thoughtography” and how it developed through the twentieth century as a cultural artefact. This account provides a framework to consider the recent trend to crowdfund and mass-produce non-invasive mindmachine interfaces for consumers, ready and willing to measure and directly interface cognitive and emotional relationships with and to our work environments and domestic social lives.

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