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Last Updated: 11 April 2024

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PhD Project

2014-2017 PhD Ft Research Study at the School of Simulation and Visualisation (formerly known as Digital Design Studio) of The Glasgow School of Art

Thesis title: Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance
Prof. Paul Chapman
(School of Simulation and Visualisation, Glasgow School of Art)
Prof. Minhua Eunice Ma (School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield)
Prof. Frank Pollick (School of Psychology, University of Glasgow)
Examiners: Dr Nicky Bird (Glasgow School of Art), Prof. Paul McKevitt (University of Ulster)

Global Excellence Initiative Fund PhD Studentship

Top-Ranked LABS Abstracts 2017 (Leonardo, MIT Press)
Supported by:
NEON Organization 2014-2015 Grant for Performance Production & MyndPlay

Artists have been interested in the human brain’s anatomy and physiology since at least the Renaissance, while in the twentieth century, the technological revolution enabled them to include in their practices methods adopted from the sciences and engineering, like Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs). The use of BCIs originates in the 1960s, with musicians, performers and artists being amongst the pioneers in the design of BCI applications. In recent years, after a period of little progress in the field, the introduction of new commercial-grade Electroencephalography (EEG)-based BCIs has led to a phenomenal development of applications across health, entertainment and the arts. At the same time, in the fields of neuroscience and experimental psychology, has emerged a new increasing interest in the mechanisms and processes of the interaction between multiple subjects and their brain-activity, referred to as multi-brain interaction. Although the vast majority of the applications in the arts and entertainment use the brain-activity of a single participant, there are earlier as well as an increasing number of recent examples that involve the simultaneous interaction of more than one participants, mainly in the context of installations, computer games and music performances.

This dissertation investigates the use of multi-brain EEG-based BCIs in the context of live cinema and mixed-media performances, which is a rather new field bearing distinct characteristics. Using an interdisciplinary approach, a critical overview of the development of the main BCI hardware, software and modes of interaction is presented and relevant works are examined. The aim is to identify the neuroscientific, computational, creative, performative and experimental challenges of the design and implementation of multi-brain BCIs in mixed-media performances, which leads to the main research question:
What might be an effective model for the simultaneous multi-brain interaction of performers and audiences using EEG-based BCIs in the context of live cinema and mixed-media performances?

In order to address the main research enquiry, scientific and practice-based methodologies were combined and a new passive multi-brain EEG-based BCI system was developed. The system was further implemented in the context of the research case study, Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling, the first demonstration of a live brain-computer cinema performance (CCA Glasgow 29-31 July 2015). This new work enabled for the first time the simultaneous real-time interaction with the use of EEG-based BCIs of more than two participants, including both a performer as well as members of the audience in the context of a mixed-media performance. The analysis of the participants’ data has most interestingly revealed a correlation between the elements of the performance, which they identified as most special, and their indicators of attention and emotional engagement that were increased during the last two scenes, when their brain-activity was interacting with the live visuals, proving the efficiency of the interaction design, the importance of the directing strategy, dramaturgy and narrative structure. Accordingly, the original contributions of the research include the new passive multi-brain EEG-based BCI system, the live brain-computer cinema performance as a new format of performative work and as a complete combination of creative and scientific solutions. This dissertation also presents the new trends in the field, such as hybrid BCIs, the combination with virtual and mixed reality systems, together with future work.

Keywords: Brain-Computer Interface (BCI); Live Cinema; Performance

Peer-Reviewed Publications & Conference Presentations
Zioga, P. 2019. 'From Neurocinematics to Live Brain-Computer Cinema: Audience Research, Co-Authorship and Film Form'. In: ECREA Film Studies Section conference ‘Research Methods in Film Studies: Challenges and Opportunities’. Ghent, Belgium, 18-19 October 2019.

Zioga, P. 2018. Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance. Leonardo. 51(5): 531. doi: 10.1162/leon_a_01671.

Zioga, P., Pollick, F., Ma, M., Chapman, P. and Stefanov, K. 2018. ‘Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling’ Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance: Performer and Audience Participation, Cognition and Emotional Engagement Using Multi-Brain BCI Interaction. Front. Neurosci. 12:191. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00191.

Zioga, P., Chapman, P., Ma, M. and Pollick, F. 2016. Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling: first demonstration of a Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance with multi-brain BCI interaction for one performer and two audience members. Digital Creativity. DOI: 10.1080/14626268.2016.1260593.

Zioga, P., Chapman, P., Ma, M. and Pollick, F. 2015. A Hypothesis of Brain-to-Brain Coupling in Interactive New Media Art and Games Using Brain-Computer Interfaces. In: Göbel, S., Ma, M., Baalsrud Hauge, J., Oliveira, M.F., Wiemeyer, J., Wendel, V. (Eds.) (2015) Serious Games First Joint International Conference, JCSG 2015, Huddersfield, UK, June 3-4, 2015, Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science series, LNCS 9090. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, Germany: 103-113. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-19126-3_9 Print ISBN: 978-3-319-19125-6 Online ISBN: 978-3-319-19126-3.

Zioga, P., Chapman, P., Ma, M. and Pollick, F. 2014. A Wireless Future: performance art, interaction and the brain-computer interfaces. In: Sa A., Carvalhais M., McLean A. (Eds.) (2015) Proceedings of ICLI 2014 - INTER-FACE: International Conference on Live Interfaces, 19-23 November 2014, Lisbon, Portugal. Porto University, CECL & CESEM (NOVA University), MITPL (University of Sussex): 220-230. ISBN: 978-989-746-060-9.

Zioga, P. and Katsinavaki, A. 2015. "Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling" Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance. Polina Zioga. dir. CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, UK. First Performance: 29 July 2015.

Lectures & Talks
Zioga, P. 2022. Digital Art and Neurosciences. The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, Contemporary Space Athens, 20 May 2022.

Zioga, P. 2018. Multi-Brain BCI Interaction for Live Cinema: Performer and Audience Participation, Cognition and Emotional Engagement. University of Nottingham, Mixed Reality Lab, 15 June 2018.

Zioga, P. 2016. Art, Science and The Brain: A Personal Perspective. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Exchange Talks Programme, Fyfe Lecture Theatre, 7 November 2016.

Zioga, P. 2016. Is It Art or Is It Science? A Journey Inside the Brain. Glasgow School of Art, BA (Hons) Interaction Design, Barnes Building Lecture Theatre, 23 February 2016.

Zioga, P. 2015. Real-Time Passive Multi-Brain Interaction in "Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling" Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance. University of Glasgow, School of Psychology, Perception Action Cognition Lab, 13 November 2015.

Zioga, P. 2014. The use of brain-computer interfaces and application development in real-time audio-visual performances. Glasgow School of Art, Digital Design Studio, 10 April 2014.

Press Articles & Interviews
Lawrence, L. 2022. Was Enheduanna the World’s First Author?. Interview with Polina Zioga. Interviewed by L. Lawrence for AramcoWorld, March / April.

Zioga, P. 2019. Culture Crossover: Interactive Filmmaking Lab adds immersion to movies. Interview with Polina Zioga. Interviewed by T. Macaulay for TechWorld, 27 September.

Zioga, P. and Schwartz, D. 2018. Will mind-controlled films change cinema? Chips with Everything podcast. Interviewed by Jordan Erica Webber and produced by Danielle Stephens for The Guardian, 27 July.

Zioga, P. 2018. New research shows how brain-computer interaction is changing cinema. The Conversation.

(First published: February 2014, Updated: September 2022)