You already knew that you could wear your heart on your sleeve, but what about your brain on your neck? Artists Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet have teamed up with researcher Sebastian Mealla to create NeuroKnitting, a project that explores the how brain signals interact with technology and textiles. Using Bach’s “Goldberg’s Variations” to invoke emotional responses, brainwaves are collected via an wearable EEG headset and transferred to the “Knitic” machine which assembles scarves into bicolor patterns reflecting the wearer’s moods.
After listening to a ten minute sample of classical music, the subject’s brain signals are sampled via the 14 EEG channels into pieces that are divided into second-long sections. Relaxation, cognitive load, and excitement are measured to determine the contours of the image. Every stitch corresponds with a cognitive state, making each fleeting and ephemeral feeling permanent. The “Knitic” in real-time is able to control the needles to precisely modulate the troughs and peaks of the read-out.
“Neuro Knitting represents a novel way of personal, generative design and fabrication. An approach that brings together affective computing and digital crafts. And thus, it offers new applications and creative thinking to both areas.” says the project’s creators.
Their goal is to eventually develop their open-source knitting machine into something that will able to join the revolution of desktop fabrication.
“Desktop manufacturing is gaining importance. The numbers of Fab Labs, persons possessing digital fabrication tools, and open hardware are increasing. However, all this innovation is around certain tools, mainly laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC machines. At the same time textile fabrication has been overlooked. To tell more, an electronic knitting machine was the first digital manufacturing tool at home. In the end, it is a shame to forget early fabrication methods, which can be adjusted for digital age needs. Also, re-application of obsolete media is an interesting and novel approach in the field of digital fabrication.” they say.
An ingenious collaboration between style and technology, the soft, comforting nature of the textile makes the somewhat cold and impersonal nature of neuroscience more familiar. Personal expression is taken to a much more intimate level with the physical embodiment of the thoughts of those wearing the scarves.