Brainstream is a mind-tingling new experience by AATOAA

The interactive film, written and directed by Caroline Robert, envisions a future where people can livestream their thoughts in return for a virtual brain massage

The online experience plays out like an interactive animated film, inviting participants to tickle the brain of D – who’s broadcasting her innermost thoughts and feelings. As the introduction to Brainstream explains, it’s set in 2028, when Health Canada has released an anonymous platform that lets people stream their cerebral activity.

Viewers are invited to use their mouse cursor, or touch screen, to ‘massage’ D’s brain as she shares her train of thoughts. Illustrations by Caroline Robert bring her mind to life, showing people what she’s thinking about, and D’s inner voice also responds to viewers’ activity – which creates a slightly unsettling ASMR-like experience, especially if you’re wearing headphones.

Pulsating background colours, flashing lines and sound design by Mathieu Charbonneau all add to the slightly psychedelic experience – which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Robert’s writing perfectly captures the wandering tendencies of our brains, following D as she meanders from one topic to another – remembering moments buried deep in the back of her mind, banishing earworms and dealing with feelings of self doubt. Viewers can watch a five- or 20-minute version of Brainstream, depending on their own wandering focus.

Writer and director: Caroline Robert
Coding: Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit
Sound Design: Mathieu Charbonneau
Voiceover: Sophie Shields-Rivard
Design studio: AATOAA
Key collaborator: Vincent Morisset
Producer: National Film Board of Canada