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SINES - an LSD brain wave and sound art hackathon

by AXNS Collective

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    With each download, you will receive a booklet providing information about the LSD brain wave data used and contains statements from each group explaining the concepts behind each piece. We hope you enjoy!
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This album presents the final sound art pieces that were produced over a two-day LSD brain wave and sound art hackathon in March 2017, organised by AXNS Collective and in collaboration with Imperial College London and Music Hackspace.

In a landmark study in 2014, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research in the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, gave LSD to healthy volunteers while scanning their brains. They found that LSD has the potential to break through rigid thought patterns, suggesting that brain circuits that are overactive and reinforced in depression could be loosened under the drug. But there was much more to discover as Dr. Carhart-Harris explained: "The output of our brain imaging work is often a static image and really that’s not conveying the reality of how psychoactive drugs are changing the brain as biological systems aren’t static, they are characteristically dynamic."

That was the motivation for AXNS to organise a participatory event to take the brain wave data of this study outside of the lab. The essence of such brain wave data can be understood as a mixture of dynamic sine waves changing over time. AXNS wanted to draw on the expertise of those in another discipline who work with sine waves in a very different context: sound artists.

For the hackathon, AXNS invited 5 sound artists from all over the world to work alongside 10 neuroscientists and data analysts, to explore the brain waves in novel ways and to create mind altering soundscapes from extracted features of the psychedelic brain data. Each sound artist was grouped with two "brain hackers", and each group received the same brain data as a starting point. Over course of the hackathon, Dr. Carhart-Harris and his team gave brief talks on their latest research on psychedelic drugs and a concert-like presentation of the created work concluded the event.

This projects encouraged scientists to experiment with innovative and novel analysis techniques with the aim to expand the way scientists usually look at brain wave data. This pioneering project provided the opportunity to think outside of the box about how we can capture someone’s subjective, dynamic and potentially healing mind-altering psychedelic journey.

Featured artists and brain hackers on this album are:
Andrew Bard - Joseph Barnby - Nwando Ebizie - Abigail Fletcher - Carl Golembeski - Steven Jerjian - Charles Matthews - Pascal Savy - Louis Schamroth-Green - Matthias Schultze-Kraft - Eyal Soreq - Rosy Southwell - Henrik von Coler - Hugo Weissbart - Timothy West - Adam John Williams - Emily Woods


released May 16, 2017

This hackathon was made possible thanks to our generous supporters of our crowdfunding campaign launched on crowd.science.


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AXNS Collective London, UK

AXNS collective is a not-for-profit, curatorial collective that explores intersections between art, neuroscience and technology. We panel discussions, curate exhibitions, carry out workshops in museums and schools, and commission collaborative projects between artists and neuroscientists. AXNS has been supported by various funders, such as the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council, and Wates Foundation. ... more

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