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Tracking two Demons’ thought patterns

“I’ll try and get my squiggle on.”

Those were the words Jack Watts uttered when he strolled into the National Gallery of Victoria with teammate Bill Stretch.

The Melbourne pair were set to take part in the NVG’s summer Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei thoughtography expedition but weren’t sure what to expect before being fitted with an electrode electroencephalogram (EEG) headset.

“I don’t know if I’m the biggest art enthusiast but it’ll interesting to see what’s happening in that brain of mine,” Watts told

In a partnership with La Trobe University, participants are shown a selection of images from the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition and have their brainwaves measured to create thoughtographs.

The EEG headset measures the electrical impulses coming from your frontal lobe; the part of the brain most associated with reasoning and abstract thought and an algorithm is used to create a unique thoughtograph.

Each coloured line reflects the brain’s activity as you view the artwork. If your brain is interested, then the lines are thicker and wigglier, but if you’re disengaged, the line is smoother and thinner.

Stretch – a La Trobe student studying his first year of a physiotherapy course – said the results varied between Watts and himself.

“The results are pretty interesting, I think. Mine and Jack’s are quite different and we reacted a little bit differently to the images but it was pretty cool,” Stretch said.

And Watts believes the thoughtography results were a good insight into how fascinated the brain is with certain imagery.

“Andy Warhol’s was a bit random, there was an electric chair and a big can of Campbell’s soup which got my brain ticking a little bit.

“It shows which images captivated your interests a bit more, and it’s a very worthwhile experience.”

Billy stretch

jack watts

Click here for more details about the installation