(UN)FOCUSSED – A performance on neurofeedback and brain activity

Ik werd meegenomen naar een andere wereld waar hersenactiviteit en omgeving aan elkaar worden gekoppeld. De ingenieuze visualisatie is een mysterieuze ervaring: als kijker zie je direct verschillen tussen individuen. Het geluidsontwerp maakt het gehele beeld compleet.

Sabine Wildevuur, WAAG society 

(UN)FOCUSSED is a performance with and about the brain. It exposes our differences as individuals and our basic similarities as humans.

The EEG data of two performers are monitored, compared and translated into dynamic movements of lasers, light, and sound. The performative system uses neurofeedback and real-time display of the performers own brain activity as well as external stimuli for the brain. The audience becomes a witness of the performers effort to self-regulate their brain function, while trying to maintain synchronicity with each other. The performance ends with a mental effort of the performers that puts the entire audience in the spotlight.

(UN)FOCUSSED was commissioned by the Amsterdam Brain and Mind Project (ABMP). This UvA‐VUA Amsterdam Academic Alliance Initiative aims to build sustainable bridges between the fields of neuroscientific and cognitive research. NOW was approached for an artist in residence project to develop a work that interprets and adds to the scientific theme of neuroscience and cognition research. (UN)FOCUSSED was performed for 2000 academic researchers during the Amsterdam Neuroscience Kick-off Conference in the Theater Amsterdam. [link]

Artistic team:

EEG analysis and laser design: Alberto Novello
Sound design: Ivo Bol
Scenography & light design: Marion Tränkle
Choreography: Marion Tränkle, Roos van Berkel and Tashi Iwaoka
Performers: Roos van Berkel and Tashi Iwaoka
Registration: Eric de Clercq

Amsterdam Neuroscience Alliance.

Funded by:
The Performing Arts Fund NL, the Creative Industries Fund NL, and the Amsterdam Brain and Mind project

15.10.2015 try-out at Amsterdam Dance Event, Compagnietheater Amsterdam
18.04.2017 Amsterdam Brain and Mind project, Compagnietheater Amsterdam
19.04.2017 Worlding the Brain Symposium, Compagnietheater Amsterdam
06.10.2017 Amsterdam Neuroscience Kickoff Meeting Theater Amsterdam
09.04.2017 The Warp, Art Chapel Amsterdam
23.09.2017 Festival Nuit des Lampions, Wiltz, Luxemburg

(IN)FOCUS- Interviews with sonified EEG data

video loop ǁ 23 minutes

For (IN)FOCUS we conducted interviews with specialists from the fields of science, cognitive research and cultural analysis. In an attempt to treat the brain as subject and object at the same time, we asked the researchers to reflect on their work and the implications for neuroscience. During the interviews we recorded the brainactivity of the interviewees with an EEG and translated their alpha waves and eye blinking into a soundwork.

(IN)FOCUS was produced for the Amsterdam Brain and Mind Project in 2017. It was part of a commission to produce artworks that contribute to the merging of cognitive research, life sciences, behavioural sciences and humanities.

Interview Partners:

Prof. dr. Agneta Fischer, Director of the Psychology Research Institute at the UvA

Prof. dr. Arjen Brussaard, Director of Amsterdam Neuroscience

Prof. dr. Patricia Pisters, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Wijnand Geraerts, Emeritus Professor Molecular Neurobiology University of Amsterdam

Artistic team:

Marion Tränkle – video

Ivo Bol – sound design


Amsterdam Neuroscience Alliance

18.04.2017 Amsterdam Brain and Mind project, Compagnietheater Amsterdam
19.04.2017 Worlding the Brain Symposium, Compagnietheater Amsterdam

SEE ME NOW? – A performance that connects one cell into a network of relations

SEE ME NOW is a site-specific project for the former Panopticon Prison in Haarlem.

It was commissioned by Cityscape Foundation as part of the art manifestation “Architectural Healing”.  We were asked to transform the space, to deal with its historic and traumatized past so it could be opened up and used again as a multi-functional centre with art, housing, a new university, recreational and public spaces.

The cupola is one of the three Panopticum-style buildings in the Netherlands. The 224 prison cells are situated around the central cupola that spans over a diameter of 62m. The project “See me now?” zooms in on the building’s specific architectural scope and function – specifically its centrally organized surveillance functionality –  and seeks to revert the mechanism. Who looks at whom? What can I see? But also: How can we act together? To “heal” means for us to re-visit the sore points of the past and to deal with them differently.

The performance starts with the smallest possible unit – one cell –  and looks at ways of setting out communication lines throughout the entire performance. Visual and acoustic patterns connect 224 individual cells to each other and to the panoptical centre point. With See me now? we inverted the power structure of the architecture in a live performance, bringing the personal stories of the prisoners in the centre, magnifying their personal experience, and opening up the rigidity of power dynamics.

Artistic team:

Concept: Ivo Bol and Marion Tränkle
Sound composition: Ivo Bol
Light composition: Marion Tränkle
Performers: Roos van Berkel, Cindy Brussel-Bienemann, Maartje Douwes, Suzana Gomes, Annemarie Libbers, Maria Ines Villasmil
Voice: Florian de Backere
Registration: Eric de Clercq


Cityscape Foundation in collaboration with the Panopticon Foundation

Funded by:

The Dutch Performing Art Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL


09.11.2018 former Panopticon prison in Haarlem