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MTF Labs Aveiro

Entanglement

Human empathy is a key ingredient necessary for addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. The Entanglement project explored the nature of empathy, the ways in which it could be measured and visualised through physical responses in the human brain and body, and the ways in which the creative expression of music could encourage and interrupt that empathy.

Two subjects were seated on the stage and connected to EEG brainwave readers and heart rate monitors. Sitting face to face, recalling Marina Abramovic’s famous work ‘The Artist is Present’, the participants were brought to a state of empathy through physical co-presence (at a safe distance). Their connection was both stimulated through live musical performance as well as provoked with dissonance and noise, to challenge whether their levels of empathy could be deliberately broken.

Their biological data was visualised on screen through neurofeedback and heartbeat sensors, and as the two cyberphysical systems came into a state of empathy, the visulas converged and merged on the screen. Musicians responded to that state of empathy with a crescendo of dissonant music intended to disrupt and break that empathy.

The result was a live performance experiment during which audiences could see a direct relationship between the human experience and the resulting effect that music can have on human psychology.

Neuroscientists Francisco Teixeira, Tiago Quendera and Luis Anjos teamed up with generative visual artist Diogo Meireles and musicians Luis Clara Gomes (aka Moullinex), Inês Meira, Suse Ribeiro and Diana Combo to create the project Entanglement. The seated subjects during the performance were MTF Labs directors Michela Magas and Andrew Dubber, who were asked by the team to volunteer in the experiment.

The legendary Portuguese musician and producer Luis Clara Gomez aka Moullinex, spent the week evolving his methodologies, surrounded by collaborative inputs from fellow participants. He is continuing several collaborations with the participants he first met at MTF Labs Aveiro.

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