The green and black goo of the Solaris exhibit.

Image: the carefully-created goo of Solaris | Habitat

Russian artists Julia Borovaya and Dmitry Morozov have created something mind-blowing—and mind-reading. The artist’s interactive exhibit, named Solaris, turns the thoughts of participants into art by placing an expensive EEG headset on their heads and placing them in front of the goo’s tank. The headset picks up the brainwaves—the viewer’s thoughts—and the green and black ooze begins to move.

“Since I was programming all the algorithms and spent hours and hours with it I got really deep visual to brain to EEG feedback,” Morozov said. “I could move and change the image any way I wanted just by changing my cognitive activity, mood, and concentration.” Though there’s nothing organic or alive in the goo, viewers still feel connected to it and could believe that it was really alive.

“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.”

The project is named after the 1961 novel by Stanislaw Lem in which a sentient planet is discovered. The goo, which is a UV-sensitive liquid, reacts to every human’s thoughts differently. Viewers are instructed to interact with the stuff with their minds, which seems a bit strange at first, but is actually very cool. Viewers’ brainwaves activate a strong magnet underneath the pool, and the black ferrofluid begins to mix and move with the green.

People who are really connected with the substance can actually will it to move where they will around the pool using only their own thoughts. They can move the black up or down in the pool, maybe in circles around the center. The project creates an interesting dialogue about what is human and what simply seems that way. Check out the videos in the links above for a truly trippy experience.