The goal of Memory Bank is to use the tools of neuroscientific research to collect, understand and visually communicate data about the experience of emotional memory. The project will generate a platform whereby both drawings of specific memories and corresponding brain activity are transformed into animated data visualization through a large-scale, interactive installation, allowing individuals to connect through science, experience and art. For example, when a Phase 2 viewer wearing an EEG headset chooses a specific animation they may find that the gamma waves they emit in response to representations of love, excitement or nostalgia are similar to other viewers’ experiences. In this way, we will use both scientific data and artistic production to point out similarities in human experience.

People often obscure their memories in fear that may be misinterpreted. But what if we can identify with others’ truth, experiences or memories? Our project brings a unique opportunity to create an open dialogue among art, neuroscience, computer science and education.

Phase 1 is a participatory workshop that will use electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets to monitor brain activity. Each participant will wear a headset as they recall early emotional memories of love, nostalgia and excitement, through guided visualization and co-creation activities meant to evoke tacit emotions, perceptions, and personal reflections. Prompts might include, What is your first memory of love? Can you recall a time of intense excitement? What are you nostalgic for? Between prompts, participants will be asked to create simple line drawings of each memory. The EEG will create data of electrical activity in each participant’s brain recorded by Neuroview. Our future goal for the data visualization process is to work with Leanna House and Chris North, faculty affiliated with the Computational Modeling & Data Analytics program in the School of Science, to identify students who will help code a program for specific interface interaction in Phase

Phase 2 is an interactive installation presented at the Cyclorama in Spring 2019. The installation will visualize both the data we collect in Phase 1 and the real time experiences of the audience. Memory recall is multisensory and requires pulling from data stored in various parts of the brain, fitting together like a layered puzzle tied by associations and neural pathways. The installation will be presented as a collaging of collective memories, brain activity visuals, and spatial sonification. The drawings and electrically monitored brain data will be interpreted by team artists into stereoscopic motion graphics animations using Adobe After Effects. Audience members will use stereoscopic glasses to experience the work. We request in this proposal to work with specific ICAT staff to create a 360 sound environment using the Max program.

Viewers of the installation will have the opportunity to interact with the screen using a motion sensing input device like Kinect to activate experiences generated in the Unity game engine. Specific segments of the screen will reveal animated drawings. In addition to this interactivity, viewers will also be invited to wear the EEG headset while interacting with the screen. The program code created alongside the Computational Modeling students will allow the EEG wearing viewers to engage in brain-computer interface, initiating various changes in screen lighting or color related to the gamma waves they are emitting. This will allow the research team to compare activity between viewers as a potential indicator of empathic response through signature patterns of neural electricity.

The Memory Bank project is particularly pertinent to the MFA research and theses of Vasiliki Ampatzi and Tacie Jones. By combining art and neuroscience, this project can tear down barriers to human inter-connectivity, showing fundamental commonalities despite age, gender, ethnicity and cultural differences, or any of the myriad social constructs of difference.