The Art of Feeling

Turning feelings into digital paintings

Art and technology? They’re only Random Quark’s two favourite things!

So we were over the moon when Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness Agency asked for a machine that would create digital paintings from brainwaves.

But boring, run-of-the-mill brainwaves weren’t going to cut it – so RQ asked the mental artists to rehearse a particularly vivid, positive memory, then measured the output on an EEG headset.

Random Quark wanted to make the digital paintings come alive and astound as many as possible. That’s when we turned to the science of flocking birds to create a unique and complex painting.

We fed the emotional data into a swarm visualisation system so each brush acted as an individual rule-following agent among a flock of bristles.



Everyone was delighted with the product: highly complex, non-repeating patterns of colour that looked great printed, framed and exhibited, in the Truman Brewery gallery space, East London

To give the art personality, the paintings were titled with the emotional memory that led to their creation. For example, the "the birth of my son" and "going shark cage diving in South Africa".

And Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness loved the works so much they printed each employee’s emotional painting and painting title on the back of their business card.

We also thought it would be fun to create a real-time version of the swarming visualisation made from an emotional analysis of live Tweets. The moving digital painting – which represented the emotional state of the world at the present time – captivated visitors to the Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness homepage.

Random Quarks’ Special Ingredients

The EEG headset read brainwaves from which RQ extracted emotional data. This was fed into the swarm visualisation system and outputted to a number of tiny brushes acting according to simple rules defining their behaviour.

The Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness homepage used webGL to create a highly optimised moving version of the swam variations. It processed them with a machine-learning sentiment-analysis engine and the quantified emotional output that plots the live art.

RQ couldn’t have done it without Dr. Mick Grierson, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Emotional paintings in exhibition

The paintings of each employee's emotional memory were printed in high resolution, framed and exhibited in the Truman brewery gallery space in East London. The space was filled with emotional snapshots captured in paper such as the "The birth of my son" and "Going shark cage diving in South Africa".

Turning feelings on twitter into live visualisations

In Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness' homepage we also created a real time version of the visualisation. The site uses webGL to create a highly optimised moving version of the swarm visualisations. Instead of brain data we turned to Twitter. The website gathers live tweets and processes them using a machine learning sentiment analysis engine. It then uses the quantified emotional output to create a moving digital painting that reflects the emotional state of the world in present time.

The website can be viewed live at