"Ever wanted to compose your own contemporary music? Don't have the skills needed? Don't worry. All you need to do is to sit down in a comfortable armchair, let SVALINLAB's skilled assistant fasten the electrodes to your head, relax and enjoy a short film specially designed to stimulate your brain activity. Your brainwaves are fed into a computer, which converts them into your very own and unique contemporary music, using the revolutionary feelings* technology! The music is performed real time on a selfplaying piano, and you can afterwords buy your own work on CD to impress your friends and family!"
With these words SVALINLAB (Rolf Wallin and Simen Svale Skogsrud) invites to feelings*, an installation involving a TV set, an armchair, a computer, an EEG reader and a self-playing piano.
A video where Simen explains the workings of the installation, from the world premiere in Henie Onstad Art Centre, Norway in 2003:
Since the world premiere, hundreds of compositions have been made by visitors of the feelings* installations around the world. Some have been in art galleries, but maybe the best experiences have been in shopping malls, where one comes in contact with people of all ages and all walks of life.
Here in Trondheim, Norway:
So what's in the movie? It came to us quite naturally: one of the basic concepts of feelings* is the border between life and non-life. – the piano and the TV set are two machines, yet they represented an important means of connecting to emotions: The piano in well-to-do homes in the 19th century, the TV set in every home in the last decades of 20th century. – in the core of composition program we use a fractal algorithm that is purely mathematical, but which yields surprisingly "organic" melodies. – the feelings of the realtime composer are read by an EEG reader, yet another machine bridging the gap between human and machine. So the film accordingly use material from Paul Wegener's silent horror movie Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam from 1920, telling the age-old Jewish story about a clayman that came to life.
Here is one of an infinity of possible compositions, made by one of the visitors: (Sorry about the bad sound quality...)
The feelings* poster at the entrance of the installation:
Supercolluder for the gig economy
Machine learning in search of the uncanny
Own a small slice of Norway
Simple surface, intricate clockwork
Helping liberate Norwegian geodata
Efficient text input for mobile and wearable devices
Laser sintered topological maps for cars and social scientists
Friendly community for the Norwegian cultural fringe.