Mens Amplio

Mens Amplio will be a 15' tall head and brain with interactive light and flame effects controlled by a participant's brain waves.

Mens Amplio - Art, Science, and Education

Mens Amplio will be a 15 foot tall model of a human head and brain, designed by Don Cain and built by a team of artists from a wide range of disciplines. The brain will incorporate an array of light and flame effects controlled by a participant through the use of an EEG headset. The headset will use Raspberry Pi and Arduino processers to translate the participant’s shifting mental and emotional state into patterns of light and fire mimicking the images of clinical brain scans in real time. The Mens Amplio crewmembers believe that by bringing together these different mediums into a single, larger than life art piece we can inspire viewers of all ages about the function of the human brain as well as it’s beauty.

Our crew is made up of artists and professionals from the worlds of brain imaging and neural interfaces, LED and flame effects, and metal fabrication with experience in building large-scale art installations.  However while we have built giant steel sculptures covered in computer controlled fire and light shows before, this piece has opened up a new possibility for us: Mens Amplio is going to allow us to use our art to show children the wonder that is their own mind.

As we were going through the process of designing the techniques and systems we would need to build the project, we were approached by a local school principal who wanted to know if we could show her students the piece in the fall.  The possibilities for teaching kids in of all ages about the design and fabrication of the sculpture, how it works, and what it shows about the brain include art, math, chemistry, biology, electronics, and a range of other subjects.   The potential to excite students about these subjects with a giant LED and fire sculpture they can control with their brains is immeasurable.

Why We Need Your Support

Funding for the construction of Mens Amplio has largely been covered by a generous grant from the Burning Man Project, so our $8,000 goal is only needed to cover the last portion of our costs to bring it into being.

Any money raised beyond that point, though, will allow us to bring the sculpture to students at no cost to their schools.  Installing a piece of this size involves transportation, crew care, maintenance, and materials, all of which are expensive even for a local show.  The more money you give the more students we can reach, and the further afield we can travel.

The Perks 

To thank our generous donors, we're offering the following perks:

All donations of $20 or more come with a sticker and a bandana.  These items are limited editions and only available to our Indiegogo supporters.  These two items will be sent out by August 19th, so whatever you donate you'll get something right away (and in time for the playa, if you're coming to see us there).  $30 donations also come with a t-shirt, which is also only available through this campaign.

The first 35 donors at the $30 level will also get a Mens Amplio water bottle, so be sure to donate early!

$100 donations come with a numbered, limited edition print of Rebecca Anders' concept drawing for the project, which you can see at the top of this page.  These will be professionally printed and framed.

$500 gets you your own desktop brain!  These clear, cast brains will be lit from the inside with an array of RGB LEDs - colors based on the wireless signal from an EEG headset, also included.  And, since they will be driven by an Arduino microcontroller, you can see your brain at work anywhere you want, no computer required.

$1,000 donors will be invited to one of our two Educator Previews at American Steel Studios this fall.  At these events you, along with local teachers, will get a brains-on demonstration of the sculpture and a presentation on how it was built and how it works.  We will also be discussing with the educators how Mens Amplio can fit into their curriculum, and we would love you're input on how the sculpture can be used to excite and educate students about a variety of subjects.

For $5,000 or more you will have the opportunity to show Mens Amplio anywhere within 50 miles of American Steel Studios in West Oakland.  Moving forward, the cost of showing the sculpture will be significantly higher in order to fund our educational efforts, so if you want to bring it out for your private, public, or corporate event now is the time to sign up.

The Impact

There's no way to quantify the impact of lighting up the minds of young people, but we have no doubt it will be huge.  If you had seen a giant interactive brain controlled sculpture as a child, how would that have impacted you?  Now more than ever, kids need to be shown the kinds of giant creative endevors they can someday bring to life, and excited about the science, math, and skills that will get them there.  We can prime young minds for learning, and just maybe showing them the possibility of larger-than-life ideas will inspire them to bring to life their own unbelievable brainstorms.

The project will be debuting at Burning Man 2013, and our first school showing is already scheduled to happen within weeks of our returning from the festival.  We will also be hosting two Educator Previews in the fall to introduce the sculpture to teachers and to discuss the possibility of bringing it to their schools and how to incorporate it into their curiculum.

Other Ways You Can Help

Weather you can donate or not, please help us get the word out!  There are countless people out there who want to support the arts and education, but we can only reach so many of them ourselves.  There are a few different ways you can spread the word:

You can follow and retweet us on Twitter,


Friend us on Facebook,


Or point people towards our webpage,


Not to mention all the other ways people get the word out online.  Word of mouth is great!



We've got a new 3D rendering of the finished sculpture.  Click below to see the video of what Mens Amplio will look like when we're done:

Team on This Campaign: