London, 7th November 2023: Art Fund and Pablo have teamed up with creative tech specialists at The Mil Experience to create innovative technology that shows the amazing impact art and culture has on the brain. They used headsets to record people’s brainwaves as they visited galleries and museums and converted those brainwaves into beautiful live visuals, to demonstrate what their brains were doing at that exact moment. And the effects are quite extraordinary. Evidence suggests that looking and at art raises dopamine levels in the body and elicits a response similar to falling in love. It’s so much more than just pretty pictures; art actually shapes and changes your mind.
The activity is part of a new campaign for Art Fund, aimed at showing the value of art and the benefits of visiting museums and galleries with a National Art Pass, a membership card which offers discounts across UK museums and galleries.
The nation’s art-going habits have yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, and with increasing pressure on people’s wallets from the cost of living, Art Fund and Pablo needed to find a new and innovative way to demonstrate the value of art.
The campaign launched with an event at The Courtauld Gallery, where press and members of the public had the opportunity to wear the headsets as they looked at world-renowned artworks. Their brainwaves were visualised in real-time on a screen and at the end of the experience, they were able to take home a bespoke film of their own brainwaves.
There are plans to take the event on tour to select museums in 2024, so people all across the UK can try the headsets and experience the power of art and culture for themselves.
The events are accompanied by a film, directed by Dan Emmerson produced by Somesuch, which documents Model and Mental-Health Activist Adwoa Aboah trialing the headset at various cultural venues, including London’s Science Museum and the newly renovated Young V&A.
Jenny Waldman, Art Fund Director, says “At Art Fund we want to encourage everyone to share in great art and culture. By visualising the way engaging with amazing art and objects can truly impact us, we hope we will inspire more people to explore museums and galleries on their doorstep”.
Dr Ahmed Beyh, neuroscientist and Postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University in the USA, said: “We know that when a person views something that they find beautiful, for example, a face or an abstract art painting, their brain’s pleasure centres light up and its visual sensory centre is engaged more intensely. Studies suggest that this is accompanied by a release of dopamine, which is also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter.”
Will Macneil, creative director at the Mill says - “When a user is more alert, the ribbons become wider, or when they are trying to make sense of something confusing the ribbons start to spiral and weave. When the viewer sees something they recognise, bright highlights appear.”
Dan Watts, Executive Creative Director at Pablo says - “Your responses to art are not just visceral but also subconscious, and can have a lasting impact on how you see the world. You’re not just looking at art, you’re shaping your brain and who you are as a person for the better”.