Adobe Education

News & Views from the Education team

Adobe Systems Incorporated

What’s On Your Mind?

By Renee Lance, Solution Consultant, ANZ

Sydney locals paint with their minds using Adobe Software.

Late in 2014, Masters students at The University of Sydney – in partnership with Adobe and acclaimed international lighting designer Bruce Ramus – produced Mind Paintings, an interactive digital art installation that lets people paint with their minds by interpreting brain waves. The project was launched in November at Sydney’s Central Park, and is the first digital art project of its kind in Australia.

Mind Paintings was conceived a year ago with inspiration from The Souls’ Journey, a book that looked at the idea of the mind being able to control things beyond the body. When visiting the University of Sydney’s Design Lab early this year, the wheels started turning and the students thought it would be a good time to kick-start the project.

The students’ reaction to the idea of tapping into people’s thoughts to create art was interesting: They were excited, but they also had that ‘how on earth are we going to do this?’ feeling. However, they were keen on the challenge.

The project is a way to expand the creative opportunities for students by offering them a completely different sort of canvas. It’s really about building a partnership and engaging more intimately with the people that use our tools.

The installation was designed around Mindwave wireless devices provided by Adobe, with the wearable headset measuring the electroencephalogram (EEG) electrical signals in the user’s brain. The readings show the attention and meditation levels of a person and are translated into abstract digital paintings using algorithms and Adobe tools including Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, Premiere, Audition and Dreamweaver.

Bruce Ramus felt that that collaboration had given the students a different perspective on design and what can influence it. “Using sophisticated technology, as well as a lot of hard work and self-examination, the students created a beautiful suite of works that not only enhanced the public space at Central, but will encourage people to express themselves creatively.” He added “With this project, Adobe has shown a new way forward for large creative companies to forge meaningful collaborative relationships with artists and students. It’s an encouraging model that points towards a future where corporations and individuals can coexist to creatively serve our communities,”.

During the course of the project we developed a close relationship with Dr Caitlin de Bérigny, lecturer at the Design Lab, and with the students in the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Art. The students also had exposure to Adobe‘s specialists, including Computer Scientist Dmitry Baranovskiy, who conducted a workshop on Javascript and SVG, and Solution Consultant Richard Turner-Jones, who showed students how to get the most out of Flash and After Effects.

Creating concepts and stories around the artworks was one of the project’s early challenges and the students looked at their own stories for inspiration.

What do you think about the project?

More details on this project: