Brian Foo translates epilepsy into music

Symphony Seizure

Published in Senses by

What happens when data passes through a creative filter? Programmer Brian Foo, who is also a visual artist and DJ, brought his various areas of expertise together in an experiment called Rhapsody in Grey. In it, he translated the brain scan data of an anonymous epilepsy patient into sound.

With the volume turned up, you can hear, see and feel what an epileptic seizure must be like. Foo’s aim is to give listeners an empathetic and intuitive understanding of the brain’s neural activity during a seizure.

In data-driven projects of this kind, Foo combines data, algorithms and borrowed sounds to explore how we consume data beyond the written and visual forms we are familiar with. And the temporal nature of music has the power to alter our mood.

In a 2012 project, Foo composed a piece of music based on air-quality data in Beijing. The daily measurements of air pollutants alter the sounds and visuals for the duration of the piece.

Foo is doing all of this as a creative endeavor and not, he tell us, as a scientist. He shares his creative process online and is very open to comments and input.

All of his custom software is open source. Stealing, extending and remixing are inevitable, welcome and encouraged, he generously states on his website. So help yourself!

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