What if you could see your brainwaves visualized in 3D, manipulating the model in your hand and physically holding the abstract patterns of your mind? New York-based artist Ion Popian is hard at work making that dream a reality.

Popian calls his series “Mental Fabrications.” The tiny, tissue box-sized creations are part of a much larger movement in 3D printing, which seeks to explore human anatomy in tactile ways — freeing anatomical models from the confines of pixelated screens. Popian’s creations are always unique, and direct representations of the user’s own brainwaves.  

“[The] emotions, we can feel as human we can map these out,” Popian told ABC News. “Every single one of these maps is like a fingerprint of the individual.” He achieves these models with help from a portable headset equipped with a biosensor he attaches to his subjects. Popian gives users an abstract film to watch, packed with slow-motion colorful movement to stimulate brain activity.

As the subject’s brain revels in the film, produced by filmmaker Noah Shulman, other people in the studio can watch the peaks and valleys undulate back and forth on a screen. Each peak represents a moment of relaxation, Popian says, “because they’re lighter, more airy.” From there, he sends the data to a 3D printer, where each subtle peak and valley is recorded and coded through a complex algorithm.

What comes out is a fully rendered 3D model of the subject’s brainwaves. “The process of architecture is what I used to derive this whole concept. It’s trying to bring a scientific…process to an art project,” said Popian, who plans on ramping up his 3D modeling to greater magnitudes. He hopes his next series of brainwaves will be large enough to walk around in.

Shulman, for his part, said the project was intriguing to work on for what it represents artistically. “From watching the film to printing the art it’s almost like art to creativity in its purest form,” he said. “It’s straight from the brain.”

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