Roel Heremans (BE): The NeuroRight Arcades

Having artists and researchers from all over the globe collaborating with and taking residencies at the Ars Electronica Futurelab is of great importance to this laboratory and atelier. New forms of artistic expression serve the lab as food for social thought, as an impetus to consider emerging issues, and as an opportunity to take a more multifaceted look at things.

In 2022, the artist in residence was Roel Heremans, who developed The NeuroRight Arcades with his team and presented the outcome at the Ars Electronica Festival 2022. Additionally, a summary installation of the project has been on display at the Ars Electronica Center since 2023.

Neuro-wearables and BCIs (Brain-Computer-Interfaces) are already here, and soon they will be everywhere. Because innovation is moving faster than the social and ethical frameworks around it, researchers at Columbia University have developed 5 NeuroRights: Mental Privacy, Personal Identity, Free Will, Equal Access to Mental Augmentation and Protection Against Algorithmic Biases.

Inspired by and based on these NeuroRights, Roel Heremans and his team designed a series of five interactive installations to make each NeuroRight tangible for participants. They wanted participants to explore unasked questions about the future of our NeuroRights in a world where BCIs are ubiquitous.

Wearing a real-time BCI headphone in front of a custom made Arcade Machine, participants are guided through an aesthetic experience where their mental state is transparent and malleable. With this, the team hopes to evoke a visceral reaction so participants feel the need for NeuroRights on a personal level.

The five installations were developed together with a team of neuro-experts from KU Leuven and Howest – Digital Arts and Entertainment Kortrijk during residencies at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Kunstenwerkplaats Brussel, Werktank Leuven and C-Takt Pelt.

Roel Heremans
Roel Heremans (BE) is a transdisciplinary artist working with sound, composed introspection & neurofeedback.
In most of his works he composes fragments of audio that trigger the imagination of visitors in order to create immersive group experiences. As a result, the visitors simultaneously become actors, witnesses, performers and reenactors of mental and physical processes of thought and movement, where collective performances encounter individual reactions and vice versa.
By activating people in this way, Heremans generates a simulation of the contemporary world, one in which every individual is part of their own self-mirroring bubble, one in which the visitor, with their experience, remains the artist’s only metaphorical canvas. His varied practice, all deriving from these immersive group experiences, also includes video and works on paper.


Artist: Roel Heremans
Interactive Design: Tyrell
BCI-Software: Yuhan Zhang, Thai Duong Truong, Maarten Francq
Neurological consultation: Chie Nakatani, Cees van Leeuwen
Artistic consultation: Emanuele Dainotti, Evan Cole
Arcade Design: Rudi van de Kerkhof

This project is funded by the Flemish Ministry of Culture, Youth and Media.