“Through these body-focused interactions, we can begin to re-imagine who we are, and how we can be.” – George Khut
George Khut invites us to explore the hidden world of body-mind interactions. Drawing on the fields of human-centred design and electronic art, Khut creates interactive compositions that transform physiological data into compelling sound and light experiences that allow people to feel connections between mind and body. In 2012 Khut was awarded the Queensland Art Gallery National New Media Art Award, the most prestigious new media award in the country.
Khut’s works are based on the principle of biofeedback interaction. Biofeedback is a method of monitoring and representing subtle changes within the body – such as heart rate, brain waves and blood pressure – in such a way that we can begin to sense, and then voluntarily influence, the function being monitored.
For CUSP, Khut exhibits prototypes for relaxation training with an ‘App’ that is designed to help children in hospitals manage stress and anxiety experienced during painful procedures such as injections and blood tests. The BrightHearts App has been developed as part of the BrightHearts project, which was initiated in 2011 with Dr Angie Morrow, a paediatrician with Kid’s Rehab at the Children’s Hospital in Westmead in NSW. Comprised of a clip-on pulse sensor, with attached iPads and specially developed software, the App interprets the patient’s heartbeat as pulsing patterns of colour and light. As the patient relaxes and slowly exhales, their heart rate slows down and the App rewards them with more calming colour and sounds on the iPad. These ‘rewards’ provide the biofeedback loop that enables the subject to know if and when they have succeeded in slowing down their heart rate.
With practice, patients become familiar with how to produce the relaxed state required to animate the images and sounds. Herein lies the power of Khut’s work: he offers an experience of control and tranquillity for seriously ill children who often have little sense of control over what is happening to them.