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(Archive) Immersive Healing Art System(IHAS)

Art and technology combined, for a healing effect.

This project was part of DDW 2021
IHAS installation launched in a hospital in London — © Carmel Woolmington

Art not only bestows pleasure, it can also heal.

The Immersive Healing Art System is a digital artwork that adapts to one’s mood and creates emotionally healing experiences.

They spotted the healing power of art, and applied it in a London hospital during the pandemic.

Studio Inneract is founded by a group of scientists and designers passionate about digital art, interactions and its psychological effects.

Throughout 2019, they carried out stages of lab research to investigate how audio-visual art could affect people's moods. In one study, they founded that AI-generated visual art, when combined with music, is capable of calming and soothing people within 3 mins.

With the promising results, they dived into the design and development of healing art installations and named it "Immersive Healing Art System(IHAS)".

During the pandemic, doctors and nurses became the most vulnerable group to job stress and burnout. Pressures of staff shortages, increasing workloads and complex working environments are all sources of stress and anxiety. Hence, Inneract collaborated with CW+, the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, to implement the IHAS installation in the hospital, right in the pandemic.

The installation has been installed at the hospital for a few months now. It provides an artistic and calming break, to contribute to the mental well-being of staff, caregivers and patients by encouraging them to embrace positive emotions.

How does the system work?

So how does the IHAS work to spread the healing effects of art?

The system provides therapeutic experiences in which audiences are invited to co-create an artwork related to their current thoughts and emotions. During the process, viewers are asked to make an expression based on their current mood or things that occupies their mind. The system would capture their expressions and generate a unique visual artwork for them, along with a clip of music and meaningful words related to the emotion.

The artworks are generated using tailored-built AI algorithms capable of creating an infinite amount of visual artwork under specific emotional styles, like calming, sad, happy and uplifting. Hence, in the IHAS system, every emotion detected could lead to different, often surprising and touching artwork that allows the spectators to relax and experience.

In the meantime, music and texts that relate to the current emotions are shown in accompany with the visual art. These contents further inspires current moment awareness and cultivate mindfulness among audiences in the hospital. Altogether, the installation tailors different art contents, for a meaningful, relaxing and mindful break.

What's coming next?

While the installation is live in the hospital, the team has been constantly collecting feedback and engagement data via open questionnaires and interviews with audiences. This feedback would help them make updates and further improve the healing effect of the artwork.

In the meantime, Studio Inneract is also working on improving quality of the visual art itself. In late 2020, Inneract released one of the latest prototypes of the healing art system, which is both interactive and animated.

The demo was exhibited in Westbund Art Center in Shanghai. And further integration of it onto the existing installations would be delivered soon.

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IHAS exhibited in Shanghai — © Zheyuan Zhang

IHAS installation in the hospital — © Carmel Woolmington

Photos of the lab experiment — © Carmel Woolmington

IHAS installation in the hospital