Intimate video portraits of people interacting with an alpha brainwave-controlled artwork forms the basis of George Khut's residency at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

In Khut’s project, Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears, participants wear a wireless brainwave sensor and quieten their minds to unfold delicate electronic soundscapes and projected visuals that reflect changes in their alpha brainwave patterns.

Shifts in the quality of the subject’s attention are revealed through the sound and visuals. Participants experiment with ways to quieten their mind and hear how these mental adjustments can influence the sound of the work.

Each interaction lasts around 10 to 15 minutes and National Portrait Gallery visitors will be able to observe the process from a special viewing area.

“The resulting imagery deliberately evokes visual languages of  ‘aura’ photography, science fiction and psychedelic cinema,” says Khut, a UNSW Art & Design lecturer.

“What interests me is our deep desire to imagine and visualise the experience of these inner states in terms of colour and energy – and what these new forms of interactive art experience can help us understand about body-mind interactions,” says Khut.

Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears continues Khut’s longstanding fascination with body-focused contemplative interactions, and builds on work the artist developed in 2013 with his ‘AlphaLab’ collaboration with James P. Bown, and again in 2015 as part of Marina Abramović In Residence Artist’s Residency Program, a 2015 Kaldor Public Art Project.

“These technologies have their origins in biomedical research – but my focus here is on enabling people to experience how they can regulate aspects of their nervous system. I’m not interested in offering people a diagnosis, but instead an opportunity for self-discovery and hands-on exploration,” Khut says.

During the three-week residency, Khut will work on-site in the gallery from Wednesdays to Sundays, recording interactions with visitors and editing portraits that will be exhibited in the gallery along with interview materials and images created by participants describing their experience of the work.

The project is supported by artsACT through its Arts Residencies ACT program, and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears runs from 27 June to 17 July on Wednesdays to Sundays at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.