The Art + Science of Feeling NYC

Brainwave data is used to make Nike's temporary installation an aural, visual and tactile experience


During Milan Design Week 2013 Nike introduced The Art + Science of Super Natural Motion, a live body-mapping exhibition developed by digital artists Universal Everything, Daniel Widrig and Quayola + Sinigaglia to interpret Nike Free and Flyknit technologies. Now after the recent unveiling of their latest running innovation—the Free Hyperfeel—Nike introduced a similar temporary installation dubbed The Art + Science of Feeling, now open to the public during New York Fashion Week through 8 September. Where Milan’s installation was strictly audio visual and inspired by the body, NYC’s iteration draws from the bare foot, with the addition of a tactile experience that stimulates and records brainwaves then interpreted in to audio and visual art.

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The maze of a structure features three distinct physical spaces interpreting three common running surfaces—stone, sand and grass. Aramique Krauthamer of interactive media company Odd Division and artist Jeff Crouse were called on to develop projected visuals to augment said surfaces. The projections create illusory scenes on the structure walls in response to barefoot visitor’s body movements. In the case of stone, the projections resemble a forest, which when paired with audio stimulus offers a near-meditative experience. Adding the requisite tech to the equation, visitors wear neuro-headsets while navigating the space. Connected to the temples, forehead and ear, the headsets record the brain’s sensory reactions to the textures underfoot to create individualized auditory experiences in real-time. Though the soundtrack is melodic and abstract, I found myself trying to interpret how different thoughts were being translated into sounds.

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Once through the installation, a quick data dump from the headsets reveals a recording of each visitor’s brainwaves recorded during the exploration of the space. This 2-D brain data is then layered on top of that of previous visitors to create a 3-D video resembling a wormhole in constant flux.

At the end of the experience, when putting your shoes back on, a supplementary video by director and motion designer Emrah Gonulkirmaz offers further hypnosis with a complex 3-D interpretation of the body’s natural motion captured during a brief run. In it a series of “threads” weave together to create an organism of sorts, building and pulsating in a rhythmic response to emotion and movement, and powered by Nike+.

Make an appointment to experience The Art + Science of Feeling for yourself in NYC at the Gansevoort Plaza through 8 September.

Images courtesy of Nike, selfie by Josh Rubin