Kinetifying thought through movement and sound

MindBeat is a software developed at the University of Surrey that facilitates collaborative thinking within a multi-disciplinary set-up. The project involved the development of an electronic space that enabled an academic ensemble to carry out an 'ideas improvisation'. Five academics from very different disciplines were invited to post short 'beats' (texts made up of no more than 3-4 sentences), around a predefined question: what makes multidisciplinary collaborations work? The beats developed in time into a progressive thread of ideas. The aim of the software was to track the emergence, development and decline of new ideas within a multidisciplinary environment, and also to be able to understand the patterns that emerge in this process by representing the ideas visually as coloured squares.

The MindBeat software was launched in June 2012 as part of an electronic theatre production of Peter Handke's 'Offending the Audience'. The five Surrey academics played the parts remotely by feeding Handke's text onto the Mindbeat website as part of a three-day durational performance. An open audience was then invited to interact with the play's five voices by sitting at one of five iMac stations set up in the studio space. These five computer monitors showed the text broken down into coloured square patterns. The audience could open the text by clicking onto the coloured squares, which would reveal the short text or beat. They could then add a comment or thought to the original text. The audience's participation produced almost 500 additional beats, creating an alternative version to the Handke script. The Mindbeat software visualised this ideation as a complex pattern of coloured squares.

The installation featured generative video and generative electronic music played live throughout the entire three-days. Using the colour and shape patterns of the ideas-exchange as their score, the musicians shared the software visualisation as a basis for their durational sonic improvisation.

MindBeat team

Mindbeat Quintet: Gabriel Cavalli, Alexandra Penn , Nicolas Salazar Sutil, Matthew Sansom, Paul Stevenson
Video Installation: Sebastian Melo
Musicians: Adam Blosse, Nick Hill, Arran Coe, Tim Barnes, Alex Harden, Ahra Jo, Holly Kirby, Arjun Bhamra
Software engineer: Paul Krause
Web platform design: Thoughtified
Installation concept: Nicolas Salazar Sutil and Matthew Sansom