What Neurotechnology Can Bring to the Artists of the World

Artistic expression is no more fixed and static than technology. In fact, art has an amazing knack of both drawing from and responding to our ever-growing pool of knowledge about the universe and how the whole crazy shebang works.

This symbiotic relationship between art and science is especially dazzling when it comes to advancements in neurotechnology. In fact, futurists are predicting that mind-machine interfaces will usher in a “creative explosion unparalleled in all history.”

But what does this explosion of creativity actually look like?

The Near-Future Possibilities

Recently, a musical experiment was conducted at the University of Plymouth. The goal was to generate a new kind of music which blended the music of able-bodied musicians with that being generated by people who were profoundly disabled and who were fitted with brain-computer music interfacing technology (BCMI). A string quartet and a BCMI quartet joined forces as one orchestra and made music together. This was the first collaboration of its kind and participants and audience alike found it a profound experience.

Every day new technologies are making these moments more achievable. As just one example, Neurogress, a company at the forefront of innovation, is working to develop software which can deliver incredibly precise commands from the brain to neurocontrolled prosthetic limbs. This will place the opportunity for artistic fulfillment into the lives of more disabled people.

But why stop there?

Neurotechnology isn’t just bringing art into the lives of more people. It’s also posing a fascinating question: what does art look like when the mind itself is the brush? If we are no longer limited to what we can achieve with our hands and the physical media at our disposal, where can we go next?

We may be on the verge of finding completely new forms of expressionin which art is no longer a “thing” that we produce but rather is the very spark of inspiration a person is capable of conceiving and sharing with another person through a brain-computer interface. One prominent cultural futurist asserted, “art today will be viewed in the future as laudable but laughable attempts at telepathic exchange”.

As innovative new companies like Neurogress place better technology into our hands, it’s exciting to imagine where art might go next.

Let’s Get Speculative

Then there’s the big, shimmering, possibly even slightly scary question of whether neurotechnology might affect not just the “how” of art but also the “what and why”. Might it be that neurotechnology won’t just change the methods by which we express ourselves, but also what we wish to say about why we are here?

Future artists may well be using neurotechnology to explore precisely what it means to be human in a complex, technologically mediated world.

We’re seeing the beginning of an explosion in new forms of expression. Neurotechnological innovation is capturing imaginations of artists and scientists alike.

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