Opening lecture for the Experimental Interaction Design course on Neurotheatre (open for anyone interested in the topic).
Contemporary theatre is going through transformation where new media art and neurotechnologies allow for collective co-creation with spectators becoming spectActors. A new level of immediate technology enabled connection between performers and spectActors can emerge from a dynamically evolving performance shaped by collective emotional experiences. This emerging type of interactive theatre, where audience – specActors – and actors can communicate via brain-neural computer interaction using multimodal sensors and actuators, is what we call Neurotheatre. From the art perspective, it is a logical next step after digital performance or postdramatic theatre because it integrates all performative art practices with neurotechnologies.
Neurotheatre is enabled by brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). These technologies allow communication without physical movement and aim primarily to help users with severe disabilities who otherwise cannot communicate or move. However, rapid technological advances support non-clinical applications of BCIs for healthy users, such as gamers, astronauts, pilots or artists.
Neurotheatre performance named “Demultiplexia” was premiered at Bozar Electronic Arts Festival in Brussels on 14th of September, 2017. Demuliplexia invited spectators to participate in a unique experience of non-verbal communication led by future cyber-enhanced humans. This neurotheatre performance embraced a number of emerging research topics such as neurocinematics, neurochoreography and collective BCIs.
From a research perspective, neurotheatre can be seen as a new integrative research environment for prototyping and exploring new social neuroscience paradigms, like collective decision making or shared emotional experiences. Apart of methodological breakthroughs, physiological data collection and aggregation from spectators can be used in media/audience research.
From societal perspective, the fusion of science, technology and arts allows for so-called design fiction, a design practice aiming at exploring and criticising possible futures by creating speculative, and often provocative, scenarios narrated through designed artifacts. Neurotheatre as creative art practice allows envisioning and reflection on technology-infused futures, questioning the implications of soon-to-be-prevalent technologies such as artificial intelligence, brain-to-brain communication; and technology-enabled scenarios such as collective minds and societies of control.