Life Ink

Life Ink by the Ars Electronica Futurelab in collaboration with Wacom explores the inner mechanism of creativity in our brain and body. The joint research team developed wearable gear that captures brainwaves and body signals in real time to create a new form of ink, called Life Ink. Can the human mind and body become the pen that generates ink that expresses our creativity? The signals are visualized as a constant stream of 3-dimensional immersive ink that expresses our emotions and creative moments in a completely new form – lending color to our thoughts and feelings with our creative sparks.

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Life Ink is the culmination of a three-year collaborative research project by the Ars Electronica Futurelab with leading pen and tablet manufacturer Wacom. The goal of the project, called Future Ink, was to explore the future of creativity in relation to various aspects of ink – from painting with glowing drones to free-growing messages made of living ink.

To capture the data for Life Ink, the team developed a set of wearable gear that detects signals such as brain waves, eye movements, muscle movements, and the activity of sweat glands. Each aspect changes the Life Ink stream: such as the emergence of the neuron-like branches, the large sparks, small glitters of sparks, the brightness of the sparks, as well as the color and radius of the entire Life Ink stream.

Life Ink offers a unique experience for artists like world-class pianist Maki Namekawa, who performed at the Ars Electronica Festival’s Futurelab Day, where her Life Ink was displayed live in 3D in Deep Space 8K. To celebrate the day, Wacom CEO Nobutaka Ide traveled from Japan to present the collaboration with the project manager at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Yoko Shimizu.

To showcase the potential of the project, the lab invited diverse creatives from different fields to explore their Life Ink: Emiko Ogawa, Head of Prix Ars Electronica, immersed herself in drawing while Mario Mrcela worked his magic on his drum set. Johannes Stürzlinger showed off his skills as a communicator working as an infotrainer at the Ars Electronica Center while his colleague Birgitt Schäffer concentrated on her creative skills in textile design. Ars Electronica Futurelab Researcher and Artist Susanne Kiesenhofer showed her impressive concentration and creativity when coding.

Last, but not least was a very valuable and interesting contribution by children of the Ars Electronica family: While playing at the Ars Electronica Center, the Life Ink of Oona and Ben lit up with colors and sparks, showcasing the innate creativity in human collaboration and communication.

Read more about Life Ink on the Ars Electronica Blog::