Neuroadaptive dance project “Trisolde”

TRISOLDE – Neuroadaptive Gesamtkunstwerk: The Biocybernetic Symbiosis of Tristan and Isolde”

Exploring the final frontier of human-computer interaction with a neuroadaptive opera…performed by the audience, dancers and computational creativity .

Team of “TRISOLDE” (Tiina Ollesk, Simo Kruusement, Renee Nõmmik, Ilkka Kosunen, Hans-Günther Lock, Giovanni Albini) performed in Festival “IndepenDance” in Göteborg, nov 29 and Dec 2, 2019.

A symbiotic dance version of Wagner´s “Tristan and Isolde” where dancers are controlling the music via body movements and implicit psychophysiological signals. This work explores the next step in this coming-together of man and machine: the symbiotic interaction paradigm where the computer can automatically sense the cognitive and affective state of the user and adapt appropriately in real-time. It brings together many exciting fields of research from computational creativity to physiological computing. To measure audience and to use the audience’s reactions to module the orchestra is new way of doing “participatory theatre” where audience becomes part of the performance.

“Tristan and Isolde” is widely considered both as one of the greatest operas of all time as well as beginning of modernism in music, introducing techniques such as chromaticism dissonance and even atonality. It has sometimes been described as a “symphony with words”; the opera lacks major stage action, large choruses or wide range of characters. Most of the “action” in the opera happens inside the heads of Tristan and Isolde. This provides amazing possibilities for a biocybernetic system: I this case, Tristan and Isolde will communicate both explicitly (through movement of the dancers) but also implicitly via the measured psychophysiological signals.

Dance artists: Tiina Ollesk, Simo Kruusement

Choreographer-director: Renee Nõmmik

Dramaturgy and science of biocybernetic symbiosis: Ilkka Kosunen

Composers for interactive audio media: Giovanni Albini, Hans-Gunter Lock

Video interaction: Valentin Siltsenko

Duration: 40’

This performance is supported by: The Cultural Endowment of Estonia, and Enactive Virtuality Lab and Digital Technology Insitute (biosensors), Tallinn University.

Presentation of project: November 29th-30th and December 1st, 2018 at 3:e Våningen Göteborg (Sweden) at festival Independance. The event is dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia and supported by program “Estonia100-EV100”.

PREMIER IN TALLINN FEBRUARY 2019 (see more Fine 5 Theater)


Neurocinematics @ the Worlding the Brain Conference, Aarhus University

Enactive Virtuality Lab presented the collaborative research with the Brain and Mind Lab of the Aalto School of Science at the Worlding the Brain Conference in Aarhus University, Nov 27-29.

Image: The son (Juha Hippi) confronting his father (Vesa Wallgren). Short film The Queen (Kuningatar) is directed by Pia Tikka, Production Aalto University in collaboration with Oblomovies Oy 2013.


TITLE: Narrative priming of moral judgments in film viewing

Authors: Pia Tikka, Jenni Hannukainen, Tommi Himberg, and Mikko Sams

How does narrative priming influence the moral judgements of the film viewers? In two studies we focus on the evaluation of the rightness of the perceived action of the characters and the acceptability of these actions, in relation to the viewers experience of sympathy and filmic tension.
Providing additional narrative information beforehand for the viewers is an effective method to manipulate how they perceive and make sense of the film narrative. Our experiment data is collected from two different studies, behavioral and psychophysiological. In both experimental settings two groups receive additional background information of either the male or the female character, while the third controls are not primed. All subjects view the same 25 minute long drama film and reply to post questionnaires online.
Based on the collected data in the first experiment using parallel mixed method analysis we showed that the narrative priming itself does not increase the spectrum of the moral judgment statements and the acceptance of the wrong-doings by the characters but more influential factor seems to be the type of the action and its relation to the generally accepted moral norms. Yet, the narrative priming increased the explanatory spectrum of the subjects, which showed to some extent the trend for accepting or trying to understand actions that embody socio-emotionally complex situations. In the second currently on-going psychophysiological study (HR, EDA; EEG) we expect the explanatory spectrum collected via online questionnaires to correlate with the results of the first behavioral study. However, we also expect to show more priming dependent and spatio-temporal film-event dependent differences in arousal between all groups, indicating the influence of priming to the unconscious emotional and cognitive processes related to moral judgements

Talk at Sergej Eisenstein Workshop, The Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM), Potsdam, Nov 22-24

Sergej Eisenstein and the Game of Objects 

Workshop at The Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM), Potsdam

In the year which marks both the 120th anniversary of Sergej Eisenstein’s birth and the 70th anniversary of his death, the Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM) in Potsdam and “Cinepoetics – Center for Advanced Film Studies” at the Free University Berlin are jointly organising a workshop that will take place in Potsdam from the 22th to 24th November 2018. More here.

Title of the talk by Pia Tikka: Simulatorium Eisensteinense: Eisenstein’s legacy in art and science dialogue 

Image form Sergei Eisenstein Elokuvan muoto, p 121 ISBN 951-835-004-3

Neurocinematic film “The Queen” – collaboration with Aalto Behavioral Lab

Enactive Virtuality Lab is collaborating with the Brain and Mind Lab of the Aalto School of Science, studying how narrative priming affects the viewer’s narrative story construction. Study on-going.

Images: Tea (Maria Järvenhelmi), Henrik  (Vesa Wallgren) and his son Daniel (Juha Hippi). Short film The Queen (Kuningatar) directed by Pia Tikka, screenplay by Eeva R Tikka. Production Oblomovies Oy and Dreammill Productions and in association with Aalto University 2013.
The film has been produced for experimental brain research purposes, which cannot be revealed at this point, as the study is on-going.
In the image Enactive Virtuality Lab’s student team Angela Kondinska and Michael Becken at Aalto University Behavioural Lab measuring physiological signals of volunteers at the end of October.  Collaborators from Aalto School of Science, Brain and Mind Lab are professor Mikko Sams,. Dr.Tommi Himberg, Veli-Matti Saarinen, and project researcher Jenni Hannukainen, Enactive Virtuality Lab, Tallinn University.

Talking about AI & MEDIA with ACE Producers

AI & Media Afternoon by Aalto Studios with ACE Producers / 12.10.2018 / Helsinki
Drs Pia Tikka and Ilkka Kosunen (image) gave a joint talk at the AI & Media Afternoon event on Friday the 12th of October, 2018. The event was held at Miltton offices at Vuorikatu 15, Helsinki, from 16:15 until 19:00.
Mika Rautiainen, Valossa Oy:  Applying Video Recognition and Content Intelligence to Media Workflows
Pia Tikka & Ilkka Kosunen: Creating Autonomous Behavior of Virtual Humanlike Characters in Interaction with Human Participants

Conference presentation @Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology to Develop Empathy June 20

A video conference presentation at the 1st “Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology to Develop Empathy” Conference, organised by the “empathic Reactive MediaLab Coalition” (eRMLab Coalition) and EmpaticaXR research group.


Lynda Joy Gerry: Envisioning Future Technology for Compassion Cultivation

Experiments in cognitive neuroscience have recently dissociated neural pathways underpinning the experience of empathy from that of compassion. Namely, whereas the experience of empathy involves neural activations regarding an affective pain resonance with the distress or suffering of the target, compassion is correlated to reward centers and positive affect regions of the brain. The import of this finding is that empathy may in some instances lead to a withdrawal reflex if there is excessive sharing of distress with the target, whereas compassion appears to involve a care for the welfare of another and an approach motivation. Within the last five years, virtual environments (VEs) have been increasingly researched and developed towards the goal of enhancing users’ social intelligence, self-compassion, positive attitudes towards out-groups, and empathy. However, most of these VEs do not help the user to become more aware of his or her own emotional and psychological states in response to another person or persons, arguably a crucial step in the recovery from empathic distress or over-arousal. Biofeedback training has also been used for improving social cognition skills, but only a few projects have incorporated biofeedback into empathy-enhancing virtual environments. Recovery from empathic distress as a skill trained through biofeedback VEs could enhance interpersonal connectedness, quality of life, and social cohesion.

Article “Screendance as enactment…” DATJournal Design Art and Technology

In this article Deren’s film At Land is analyzed as an expression of a human body-brain system situated and enactive within the world, with references to neuroscience, neurocinematic studies, and screendance.

TIKKA, Pia. Screendance as enactment in Maya Deren’s At Land. DATJournal Design Art and Technology, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, p. 9-28, june 2018. ISSN 2526-1789. First published in The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies Edited by Douglas Rosenberg,Aug 2016. Available  online here

Hybrid Labs The Third Renewable Futures Conference

Hybrid Labs Symposium
The Third Renewable Futures Conference
May 30 – June 1, 2018, Aalto University, Otaniemi Campus

June 31 NeurocinemAtics on narrative experience

Hybrid Labs is the third edition of Renewable Futures conference that aims to challenge the future of knowledge creation through art and science. The HYBRID LABS took place from May 30 to June 1, 2018 at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, in the context of Aalto Festival. Celebrating 50 years of Leonardo journal and community, the HYBRID LABS conference looked back into the history of art and science collaboration, with an intent to reconsider and envision the future of hybrid laboratories – where scientific research and artistic practice meet and interact.

Pia Tikka and Mauri Kaipainen:
Triadic epistemology of narrative experience

We consider the narrative experience as a triangular system of relations between narrative structure , narrative perspective , and physiological manifestations associated with both. The proposal builds on the fundamentally pragmatist idea that no two of these elements are enough to explain each other, but a third is always required to explicate the interpretative angle. Phenomenological accounts altogether reject the idea of objective descriptions of experience. At the same time, a holistic understanding must assume that a narrative is shared on some level, an assumption narratology must make, and that even individual experiences are also embodied, as is evident to neuroscientists observing brain activity evoked by narrative experience. It cannot be that these accounts are incompatible forever. Using these elements, we discuss a triadic epistemology, a mutually complementary knowledge construction system combining phenomenological, narratological and physiological angles in order to generate integrated knowledge about how different people experience particular narratives.

Our approach assumes a holistic, or even deeper, an enactive perspective to experiencing, that is, assuming systemic engagement in the embodied, social, and situational environmental processes. Consequently, we propose understanding narrative content needs to be analyzed not only based on subjective reports of theexperiencer, but they also need to be related to neurophysiological manifestations of the experience. Or, describing the associated neural activity during the viewing of a film is not enough to relate it to subjective reports of the viewers, but the observations also need to be interpreted to conventions of storytelling. A selection of cases are described to clarify the proposed triadic method.

Κeywords: neurophenomenology, narrative experience, narrative perspective, enactive theory of mind, epistemology

eFilm: Hyperfilms for basic and clinical research presented by
my aivoAALTO collaborator professor Mikko Sams showed highlights of neuroscience findings related to viewing films in fMRI and introduced the concept of eFilm, a novel computational platform for producing and easily modifying films to be used in basic and clinical research.

June 1 VR TALKS at Aalto Studios

VR Research Talks organised with Virtual Cinema Lab and FiVR Track dedicated on research in and around VR, with a focus on artistic praxes around sound, alternative narrations and the self.

Daniel Landau: Meeting Yourself in Virtual Reality and Self-Compassion
Self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose, and essence. Between the internal process of Self-reflection to the external observation of one’s reflection – runs a thin line marking the relationship between the private-self and the public-self. From Narcissus’s pond, through reflective surfaces and mirrors, to current day selfies, the concepts of self, body-image and self-awareness have been strongly influenced by the human interaction with physical reflections. In fact, one can say that the evolution of technologies reproducing images of ourselves has played a major role in the evolution of the Self as a construct. With the current wave of Virtual-Reality (VR) technology making its early steps as a consumer product, we set out to explore the new ways in which VR technology may impact our concept of self and self-awareness. ‘Self Study’ aims to critically explore VR as a significant and novel component in the history and tradition of the complex relationship between technology and the Self (—).

See more on Daniel’s work here)



Embodying Creative Expertise in Virtual Reality Zurich ZhDK May 29-31

In collaboration with BeAnotherLab (The Machine to Be Another), Lynda Joy Gerry taught a workshop, “Embodying Creative Expertise in Virtual Reality” to Masters in Interaction Design students at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZhDK), as part of a course, “Ecological perception, embodiment, and behavioral change in immersive design” led by BAL members.

Image: Poster for the students’ final project presentation and exhibition.

Lynda specifically taught students design approaches using a semi-transparent video overlay of another person’s first-person, embodied experience, as in First-Person Squared. The focus of the workshop was on Leap Motion data tracking and measurements, specifically how to calculate compatibility and interpersonal motor coordination through a match score between the two participants, and how to send this data over a network. The system provides motor feedback regarding imitative gestures that are similar in form and position, and also for gestures that occur synchronously (at the same time), ideally trying to support both types of interpersonal motor coordination. Lynda taught students the equations used and data input necessary to calculate this algorithm for the different match scores, and also how to add interaction effects to this data. Lynda showed students how to implement Leap motion hand tracking on top of stereoscopic point-of-view video and how to record user hand movements. On the 31st, students premiered their final projects at an event entitled “Scattered Senses.”