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What thinking about nothing looks like: Gustav Metzger hooks his brain up to a robot carving machine after empting his mind

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What thinking about nothing looks like?

Artist Gustav Metzger did wonder how his empty mind might appear if made corporeal.

To find out he hooked himself up to an electroencephalograph scanner connected to a robot carving machine, then tried not to think.

The result was a void space in the middle of a block of Portland stone, now on display at London’s Work Gallery. The shape carved out from the lump of rock is pictured below.


The project was the idea of art and technology group London Fieldworks, whose members developed bespoke software to translate Metzger’s brainwaves into 3D shape information.

This data was translated into instructions for a manufacturing robot, which carved out the shapes from the interior of a block of stone to create the curious sculpture.

What thinking about nothing looks like by Gustav Metzger is a void space in the middle of a block of Portland stone, now on display at London's Work Gallery

What thinking about nothing looks like by Gustav Metzger is a void space in the middle of a block of Portland stone, now on display at London’s Work Gallery

The project utilized a relational database comprising of several hundred digital EEG recordings from participants who have donated their brainwaves from the UK, Europe and U.S.

These EEGs were recorded while the participants perceived 3-dimensional depth information within autostereograms and were instrumental in the translation of Gustav Metzger’s EEG into instructions for the manufacturing robot to create the sculpture, London Fieldworks said.

As well as the sculptural representation of Gustav Metzger thinking about nothing, exhibits will include a film of the carving of the stone as well as other documentation of the development and delivery of the work.

The gallery said: “A timely addition and challenge to the present climate of technological evolution and increasing cybernetic augmentation, NULL OBJECT offers an alternative model for a creative, non-invasive interface between body, mind and machine.”

The project was funded by Arts Council England and Computer Arts Society.