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Exploring the profound impact of art on the creative brain #CreativeCaseStudy

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Earlier this month, Art Fund and Pablo teamed up with creative tech specialists at The Mil Experience to create a new innovative technology that shows off 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 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 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.

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To learn more about how Art Fund and Pablo worked together to find a new and innovative way to demonstrate the value of art, I spoke to Matt Leach, Creative Director at Pablo.

How did you come up with the idea?

The brief was to show the value of a National Art Pass and make it feel like a worthwhile investment. We were keen to do this in an interesting way that didn’t feel like your typical price-led value ad, because the value of art is much greater than this.

It has a profound effect on the mind. This gave rise to our idea - let’s prove the value of a National Art Pass by showing the amazing things art does to the brain.

Can you talk through the creative process?

We teamed up with The Mill Experience and created some clever tech that monitors people’s brainwaves while experiencing art and turns them into stunning visuals. EEG headsets were used to capture people’s brainwaves as they went round galleries, and a bespoke application instantly converted the brainwaves into amazing live visualisations. Think of it like a graphic equaliser, only for your mind.

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We worked closely with The Mill Experience to develop the tech and the look of the visuals. And we developed a whole campaign around our creation to show people across the UK the amazing benefits of experiencing art and culture.

How was the project put together? 

The project 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 including Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Manet’s

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. 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 around the UK in 2024, so people everywhere can try the headsets and experience the power of art and culture for themselves. 

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The events are accompanied by a film, directed by Dan Emmerson and produced by Somesuch, which documents Model and Actress Activist, Adwoa Aboah, trialling the headset at various cultural venues including London’s Science Museum and the newly renovated Young V&A.

What does this project mean and what is it trying to achieve?

The project showed something quite extraordinary. Looking at art raises dopamine levels in the body and elicits a response similar to falling in love.

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It’s so much more than just pretty pictures; art shapes and changes your mind. This gives people a really strong and persuasive reason to get a National Art Pass.

Anything else you think is important to mention about the project?

The bespoke application we created with The Mill Experience is the first of its kind; it’s ability to visualise the brainwaves in real-time is unique. And the project has received coverage across a wide range of media outlets, including Sky, The Times, Heart Radio and The Observer.

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