It may look like mind control, but Maxime Michaud is making music with his brainwaves

The Montreal artist takes you into his residency in Seia, Portugal, where he's using his own body and thoughts to create an emotive soundscape.

Michaud's 'instruments' include brainwave and heart rate sensors, his throat and the world around him

(CBC Arts)

Maxime Michaud is a transdisciplinary artist from Montreal. And this summer, he's been on an adventure: he spent a month in the small town of Seia, Portugal, as part of an art residency called Residência Artística DME. In the large Casa Municipal da Cultura, which serves as Michaud's temporary studio, he spends his days sitting alone onstage and playing with body sensors and other physiological devices.

Watch the video:

Maxime Michaud's brainwaves turn into sound art

5 years ago
Duration 5:45
Montreal artist Maxime Michaud spends a month at a residency in Seia, Portugal, where he uses his body and his thoughts to make music.

In this video, he takes you through a few of them — a brainwave sensor, a heart rate sensor and a machine he devised to capture the actions of his throat. Together, they allow him to compose an audiovisual artwork using the electrical signals from his brain.

As he'll show you here, depending on his brain activity level, the musical and visual motifs of the piece morph and change (with the help of algorithms).

(CBC Arts)

When he's not in his improvised workshop, Michaud wanders the landscape in and around Seia, carrying a small recorder and a special dual microphone that fits into his ears, collecting the ambient sounds from the places he visits. At the end of the residency, he presents the results of his efforts to the locals of Seia: a 45-minute audiovisual piece that reflects his experiences in Portugal.

Find out more about Maxime Michaud here. And you can follow him on Instagram here. His project was supported by The Canada Council for the Arts.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.


Thomas Szacka-Marier is a Montreal-based director and cinematographer with a deep passion for documentary filmmaking. His short film Follow the Tide, about a group of fishermen in Senegal, was selected in many festivals and was broadcasted on TV5 Monde. He also directed FONKi World, a web documentary about a Canadian street artist exploring his Cambodian origins.