Mind-reading slime: it may sound like something out of a bad horror movie, but people are flocking for a chance to experience the wacky stuff. Russian artist Julia Borovaya has created Solaris, a tank of neon green slime that reacts to the thoughts of the participant in an interactive art exhibit. Facilitated by an EEG headset placed on the participant’s head, Solaris interprets brainwaves to create fantastic visuals that dance around the slimy surface.
The project is named after the 1961 novel by Stanislaw Lem, in which scientists discover a sentient planet called Solaris. Like the honorifically named art exhibit, the gas giant was able to read the thoughts of visitors and transform these thoughts into physical manifestations of brainwaves. However, for fans of Ghostbusters, this smart sludge could seem to have been inspired by “mood slime.”
The Solaris system works by reading the brainwaves of the participant, then sending these signals to an invisible motor, which controls the movement of magnets below the slime’s surface. As these magnets move in response to changing brain activity, the ferromagnetic slime shifts to reveal patterns translated from the participant’s thoughts. Without human interaction, the Solaris slime lies dormant. “The object only comes to life with human mental contact,” says Borovaya. “The movement of the black liquid in the green liquid is unique to each person . . . over time, the object helps to discipline a chaotic flow of thoughts, and becomes a part of the person viewing it.”
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Although there are no biological components to Solaris, participants have claimed a strong connection with the slime, feeling almost as though the system were alive. This speaks to the thoughtful work done by Borovaya and chemist/roboticist Edward Rakhmanov to create such responsive, groundbreaking artwork.
Images via John Brownlee/FastCompany