BRAINTEC is an online collaborative storytelling project about an American research company that does research on the recalling of memories through brain implants, using human test subjects. The project exists of three websites, an installation and a series of performances in which the artist searched for participants to become test subjects.
One of the website, the BRAINTEC company website, explains the goal and methods used in this experimental research. It is made in the style, structure and language of a real company website. This look- and-feel stretches the borderline between fiction and reality as visitors of the site not always know that this company is not for real. Visitors of this website are asked to become a test subject for BRAINTEC and can read schedules and descriptions of their possible stay at the research campus. On a second website, Memoires of a Testee (2002-2003), an online diary of the artist’ experiences as a test subject for BRAINTEC is intertwined with the diaries of twelve other subjects, written by people from all over the world. These co-writers of the BRAINTEC story became participants after application on the company website or after an intake during performances. On a third website, Humanupload (2004-2005), the research on memories continues. People are asked to download grid computing software (in reality a sophisticated screensaver) that helps analyzing millions of memes. A BRAINTEC installation, usually in combination with a series of performances, is realized for several Dutch museums including Centraal Museum Utrecht and the Museum for Modern Art Arnhem. Memories of volunteers were copied on spot and exposed in a collection of small frames. During many expositions, lectures and performances, the BRAINTEC company and research program was introduced as a reality. Whether people understood the fictionality or not; the questioning of futuristic technologies was always triggered, including personal desires, ethics and worries. While focusing on memories, individual experiences from the past inspired wishes for the future.
The BRAINTEC project won the Dutch ISOC-award for Internet and the Arts in 2002 and was nominated for the International Media Art Price in 2003. It is shown on many national and international festivals including the Netherlands Film Festival, Ciber@rt, FILE and ISEA2004.