Cartographies of the Mind was first realized as a participatory neuroscience artwork on Governors Island in 2019 which visualized the brainwaves of viewers as they contemplated climate change, pollution, and their relationship to planet Earth. The viewer’s real time EEG (electroencephalogram) signals encircled them as they gazed inside sculptural urns, becoming the agents for the creation of the art experience. Gamma, Beta, Alpha and Theta waves were displayed from hot to cold colors.

Participants considered the following prompts:

  • Do you worry that the planet will become uninhabitable?
  • What are your feelings about nature? Does it soothe or frighten you?
  • Does pollution impact your daily life?
  • Do you think your individual actions can contribute to moving away from fossil fuels?

Ongoing pilots of this work are continuing with Pratt and other institutions which focus on the eco-taxonomies being developed around the climate crisis. This new language includes words such as: terra-furie, solastagia, climate grief.

Cartographies of the Mind and subsequent pilots, pursue how the brain works from an anatomical, cognitive and psychological perspective — themes which appear in earlier works such as Dendrites (a reimagining and amplification of neurons and companion cells) and Our Memories (a participatory public artwork focused on the memory function).

The original Cartographies of the Mind installation on Governors Island was made possible by the generous support of Emotiv and The House of Solutions, and in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by LMCC.