Dr. Stephanie Koziej is an installation artist and scholar who explores, perhaps, the most fundamental concept in our lives — the connections between people. Her new experimental installation Tender Rhythms is an “interactive brain-computer interface installation” that creates music and visual art when two people connect deeply with one another. Koziej joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to talk about the science behind feelings of deep interpersonal connection, and to share how participants will be able to see, hear and feel the unique energies of their own relationships.
“I was writing my dissertation at Emory on the connections between people. I was very interested in intimacy and the invisible relationship between humans,” Koziej said. “I just noticed that in philosophy and in our society, we focus a lot on the individual; the autonomous, the singular individual. But I was always interested in the connection between us, and I wanted to let it talk.”
Koziej made her own connection that would be important in exploring connective human feeling through art — a neuroscientist she met at a science event at Georgia Tech. “I was reading about research in neuroscience, that they were able to measure true brain wave synchronicity in a relationship. So I found a friend of mine, Dr. Mike Winters, who was doing visualization and sonification of brainwaves…. We put our passion together and we created an installation that finally gives voice to this invisible connection between us.” The installation also benefits from the collaboration of conceptual artist Daniel Sabio, aka “The Glad Scientist.”
Tender Rhythms invites guests to pair up and don EEG headbands which create visual and musical expressions of each individual’s brainwaves. “It’s just like a little headband in the front of your head… and we sit down on two chairs facing each other. And we can start interacting. We can hold hands, or look in each others’ eyes, or smile, and then, slowly, our brainwaves might connect and the installation that we created picks up that connection. And from the moment the connection starts, music starts to play,” described Kozeij. She further explained how recent research found that alpha brainwaves can synchronize between two humans sharing close connective interaction and that this moment of synchronization triggers the visuals and musical expressions of the installation’s computer.
“It’s just wonderful to see people starting to smile when it happens because it’s kind of like magic,” Koziej said.
Tender Rhythms can be experienced at Emory University Visual Arts Gallery from July 29 through Aug. 1. More information is available at https://koziejstephanie.com/music-sound/sound-installations/tender-rhythms/.