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 A Pilot Research Study 

Changes in brainwave activity in people experiencing a sound responsive, interactive light sculpture. 

 “The Essence sculpture helped me achieve a state that not only felt calm and de-stressed, but also incredibly focussed and energised. This feeling is not something I manage to achieve often, and certainly not in such a short space of time.”
H.L. – study participant. 

The Art of Relaxation – Light Sculpture Research Study

Fractal patterns, coloured light and music are three factors that are known to induce relaxation and relieve stress. These three elements have been combined in a single piece of art – Futuretro’s Essence. The sculpture consists of nine Jesmonite (eco-resin) casts, that create a tessellated fractal pattern, mounted in a wooden frame with integrated sound responsive, colour changing LEDs.

To accompany the sculpture a unique piece of soothing music was composed, with the assistance of a music composer/producer and a female vocalist, to which the LEDs responded according to the sound frequency. Low frequency (bass) sound was displayed as red light across the surface of the sculpture and, as the frequency of the sensed sound increased, the colour of displayed light progressed through the colour spectrum, up to violet and pink at highest end of the range.

Thirty-three volunteers (eighteen female and fifteen male), aged between 17 and 83, were recruited to take part in a pilot study. It involved them individually sitting in front of the Essence sculpture, in a controlled environment, for ten minutes whilst the music played, and the sculpture responded accordingly. While experiencing the sculpture each participant wore a Muse 2 headset that recorded their brainwave activity, in the form of an electroencephalogram (EEG), using the Mind Monitor app.

Results revealed that, in the majority of participants, relative alpha, beta and gamma brainwave activity increased whilst theta and delta decreased during exposure to the sculpture. (Analysis of the data showed that differences in relative brainwave activity between the start and end of the ten-minute experience were statistically significant in all brainwaves).

This indicates that the participants became more relaxed, thus reducing tension (alpha effect), whilst the ability to concentrate and focus (beta effect) was increased, together with the capacity to perform complex tasks requiring decision making (gamma effect). At the same time, as delta and theta waves decreased, the participants became more alert.

We therefore conclude that experiencing the Essence sound responsive light sculpture for as little as ten minutes aids relaxation, thus contributing positively to wellbeing by relieving stress, increasing the capacity to concentrate and improving mental agility. This means that a relatively short exposure to the Essence sculpture has the beneficial effect of aiding people to think more clearly, thus enabling them to contribute in a more positive and productive manner in work related or recreational activities.

The Art of Relaxation – Research Study…

Further Information

The original pattern for the Essence sculpture was based on fractals and created using wooden blocks. Four of these wooden patterns were then combined and used to make a rubber mould from which nine casts were produced using Jesmonite (eco-resin).

The electronics in ‘Essence’ were designed so that sound is converted to coloured light with a scientifically meaningful correlation. The reason for this was so that the resultant synchronised audio-visual display catalyses a deeper level of mesmeric focus in the observer, bringing them into the present moment, thereby helping to alleviate tension.

Both sound and light are energy vibrations that occur at varying frequencies. The sculpture detects sound via an integrated precision microphone and then converts the predominant frequency into an equally proportionate frequency of coloured light. In other words, the lowest (bass) frequencies are displayed as red, which has the lowest frequency of coloured light and, as the frequency of the sensed sound increases, the colour of the displayed light progresses through the colour spectrum accordingly, going up to violet and magenta at the highest end of the frequency range.

The five brainwaves recorded during the study were gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta:

  • Gamma waves are the fastest brainwaves, responsible for learning, memory, and processing new information.
  • Beta waves are most prominent whilst we are awake or focussed and predominate in problem-solving, concentrating and decision making.
  • Alpha waves occur when we are relaxing, responding to any visual stimulation, or actively thinking about something. Harnessing the brain’s alpha waves can help induce a ‘flow state’, which allows deep work with less effort. Alpha waves aid calmness, increase creativity and enhance the ability to absorb new information.
  • Theta waves occur when we are in a light sleep or dreaming, as well as in a deeply relaxed, meditative state of mind.
  • Delta waves happen during dreamless sleep and deep meditation. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state which is why restorative sleep is so important.

The data in the above graph is shown as ‘Relative Brain Waves’, calculated by dividing the absolute reading in one wave band by the sum of the absolute readings for all wave bands. This means that the higher the relative brainwave value, the more predominant that type of brainwave is. So, in the example above alpha and beta waves are more active than the other three.

Thank you for reading about The Art of Relaxation – Research Study…

For more information, images and videos of the Essence sculpture… Please Click Here.

June 2022