Following last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, acupuncturist and musician Masaki Batoh found himself and his country devastated. “I believe you American people who experienced 9/11 can understand this fact,” he explains to Co.Design. “We survivors were mentally shattered like our dead victims.”
Batoh wanted to articulate that devastation, but the worst experiences can be tough to articulate. Talking can require that you catalog each emotion, and how do you do that when your whole psyche is a mess? How do you share the truth of what you feel, if you have no idea what that truth is?
“Human beings lie, but their brain waves never lie,” writes Batoh. And with that mantra in mind, Batoh moved beyond words. He turned to a modified EEG, what he calls a Brain Pulse Machine, to measure the brain waves of earthquake victims and play them back as music. He then mixed these tracks with his own to create Brain Pulse Music, a memorial album to raise money for Japan’s orphans.
In a sense, the album is as earnest a reaction to the earthquake as is scientifically possible, containing snapshots of what people were really thinking. I ask if Batoh considers his art abstract, or if he has another label for it. “Medical art of course,” he responds. “I’m very serious. Why not?”
Beyond the album, Batoh has found EEGs to be effective as a component to his acupuncture treatments. “For example, a patient in deep anxiety during his treatment might have brain waves that are very unstable,” Batoh explains. “I put some very, very thin acupuncture needles at his certain pressure points. Immediately, and over the next 10 minutes, his brain waves calm down.”
If you’ve ever been hooked up to an EEG monitor, the idea of brain music and EEG therapy may sound a little less out there–to smooth out a real-time graph of your mind, your brain must enter a state I’d compare to meditation. You can tell yourself that you’re relaxed until you’re blue in the face, but the machine knows better–it forces you to be honest with yourself about what you’re really thinking.
[Hat tip: Cool Hunting]