If you could have an additional sense, what would it be? Apart from teleportation, reading minds and seeing through people’s emotions are high on the wishlist. Studio Nick Verstand has realized this dream with Aura, an audiovisual installation which turns emotions into light beams.
With social media platforms we have mastered the craft of concealing our real emotions and hiding behind digital personas which at times keeps us in a dark place. Aura (part of the 2017 Dutch Design Week) literally sheds light onto visitors’ emotions - confronting them with their feelings and making them aware of the emotions of others.
Author: Siphilele Magagula
Image: Courtesy of Hanneke Wetzers
Created as a tribute to artist Anthony McCall’s Solid Light Works, Aura is an exploration of light as a medium, highlighting the possibilities for mood tracking. The installation further explores how the visual perception of emotions influences the understanding of the self as well as others - fostering meaningful interactions.
How Studio Nick Verstand Uses Your Emotions To Design Light
Dutch visual artist Nick Verstand’s work explores human behaviour and visual perception through his large-scale audiovisual compositions that fully engages the audience. ‘Aura’ is the result of a collaboration between the Dutch design studio and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research.
Together they created an immersive multisensory installation that translates the audience’s emotions into a physical form - encapsulating organic light projections of various form, colour and intensity.
Images courtesy of Hanneke Wetzers and Noortje Knulst
As part of the experience participants were invited to wear biosensors that measured their brainwaves, heart rate variability and galvanic skin response in order to capture their precise emotional state. The “emotional data” was analysed and translated in real time into a personalised light installation. A musical composition was also integrated into the installation to create a multisensory experience that influenced the participant’s emotions. The differences in each individual’s response to the sensory input was reflected in the colour and movement of conical beams of light for all participants to see, creating a collective emotional experience.
Image courtesy of Hanneke Wetzers and Noortje Knulst
This “materialisation of (internal) metaphysical space into (external) physical space” is forcing us to confront our emotions therefore understanding more about ourselves and getting a glimpse into the emotions of others - hopefully sparking collective empathy. By shedding light on emotions, this installation shows the beauty of our inner complexity, perhaps making having authentic feelings more acceptable in our closed off society. More tech innovations are looking to understand human interaction and emotion - we look forward to more focus and investment in understanding and improving emotional wellbeing.