The Non-Cartesian Fascinator

The Non-Cartesian Fascinator: The dialogue between rational mind and feelings (Microcontroller/ Heartbeat sensor / LED / Plastic / Fabric

*Winner in the category of Interactive design 30+/Brain Art Awards 2012

I don’t believe in the Cartesian dualism that conceives of a formal division between the rational mind and emotions. Human reasoning is closely connected with our bodily experiences and to analyse those aspects separately does not make sense to me.

It is natural that the process of thinking itself constantly leads to a series of emotions that come from a purely intellectual source. On the other hand, some bodily feelings, for instance, enjoying the smell of the sea or walking through a park on a beautiful day, can easily stimulate the active use of our imagination.

Trying to convey this idea, I developed this sculptural piece, which directly connects a user’s heartbeat (representing emotions) to this idea of mind. This is an interactive biofeedback-based fascinator that uses a microcontroller (Arduino Fio), Pulse Sensor, LEDs, fabric, plastic and wires. The main metaphor that I tried to deliver is that mind and emotions are closely connected and they cannot exist separately.

The hand that rests over the small hat represents the human intelligence and the reflective state of the mind, which is a source of conception for the most crucial and inspiring ideas.

The LED circuit not only projects the user’s heartbeat in real time; it alternatively illustrates the electric trajectory (or vital energy) of thinking. Moreover, the pegs attached to the user’s head symbolise the interconnection of our neurons. However, because the process of thinking is flexible, some of those pegs are still waiting for the endless generation of new ideas.