Homo Somnum

Homo Somnum is a collaborative project between students of Northwestern University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The collaboration features Azusa Matsumoto (MA, Economics), Ann Yu (BA, Philosophy and Computer Science), Samuel Hyunwoo Park (BFA, Art and Technology Studies), and Snow Xu (BFA, Art and Technology Studies). For more information regarding group members' bio, click here

Homo Somnum  at  Data Viz Collaborative Exhibition  in SAIC's Neiman Center. 

Homo Somnum at Data Viz Collaborative Exhibition in SAIC's Neiman Center. 

Homo Somnum is an installation collectively fed by dreams. It’s a space and portal of both entrance and exit, inclusion and exclusion, existence and erasure. Four group members’ brain wave data collected by EEG(Electroencephalography) sensor during dreaming are processed to provide a collective narrative.

Delta, alpha, and theta waves are extracted based on principal components analysis and converted into RGB values, influencing the expression and morphing of lights (Red-delta: NonREM-sleep; Green-alpha: deep relaxation; Blue-theta: REM-sleep, prominent while dreaming). As the emitting ring formally and compositionally resembles the shadow on the floor, this shadow also serves as a reflection of collective dream. Homo Somnum is the site where light becomes shadow, shadow weaves with dream, and dream is imbued with light.

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Homo Somnum re-installation @ Ford Motor Company Design Center, Northwestern University

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Data Collection & Analysis Overview:

NeuroSky EEG sensor is utilized to collect brainwave data while four group members are sleeping. Segments of the raw data provided by NeuroSky app is shown here:

Azusa - Raw Data

Azusa - Raw Data

Ann - Raw Data

Ann - Raw Data

Sam - Raw Data

Sam - Raw Data

Snow - Raw Data

Snow - Raw Data

By using principal of components analysis, sections with similar pattern of brainwave activities among the four are extracted. This decision is based on our goal to deliver a collective narrative, therefore the brainwave pattern we share symbolically refer to the dream we share. Consequentially, delta, alpha, and theta values are normalized to be between 0 and 255. Finally, the data size is reduced to be reasonably read by Arduino Mega and fed into DotStar LED strip. The data processing ends up with about 160000 sets of RGB values. Data range is briefly exemplified below:

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Diagram credit: Azusa Matsumoto

Diagram credit: Azusa Matsumoto

The dataset provides an ever-changing spectrum of hue that chases its own tail in ring. Homo Somnum mesmerizes and invites spectators to enter the space through the portal. During the installation, spectators are observed to stop and trace the light with eyes, or enter and rest in the center of the ring. 





Homo Somnum is featured in Data Viz Collaborative Exhibition at SAIC's Neimen Center in December, 2017, and NU's Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center in spring, 2018.


Media Feature:


December, 2017