Visualising brainwaves in a kaleidoscope of colour

Filmmaker and animator Alice Dunseath creates a vibrant short film to show the brain’s reaction to beauty and functionality.

Alice Dunseath is a London-based filmmaker, animator and University of London associate lecturer who has developed her own brand of visual art. By playing with materials, liquids, chemicals, crystals or other dynamic elements, and choreographing them beneath the lense of a camera, she is able to capture poetry in motion.

“An Interpretation of Perception” is one of Dunseath’s most recent projects, and was commissioned by innovative bathroom company Ideal Standard. The film is one of three artworks that provide a visual expression of the company’s findings from a study on how the brain perceives and interprets beauty.

Dunseath interpreted brainwave data that reveals cerebral reaction to beauty and functionality by drawing a parallel between Beta brainwaves and Theta brainwaves. Theta waves are reflected during deep meditation or dreaming, and on a topographical graph it is represented as slow and milky visuals. Beta waves show up when the brain is in a fully functioning state, and is represented by sharp and erratic visuals. Dunseath told us how she brought the brain’s activity to life in her vivid short film:

“I grew crystals in plaster disks, coloured to match the topographical data graphs and captured them growing erratically using time lapse photography to reinterpret the Beta waves. I dropped marbling inks into clear, thickened water for the clear-minded Alpha waves and added food colouring to milk and ice cream, and recorded it melting to re-imagine the slow moving Theta waves.”

Dunseath’s portfolio is a diverse compilation of title sequences, fashion films, commercial and corporate films, for clients like BBC Radio Four, Barbican, Gucci, and others. Aside form her commissioned work, she set up an animation workshop in Freetown for the Sierra Leone International Film Festival in 2012 and worked as third assistant director on Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr Fox”.