Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei (2015/2016)

Throughout this high-profile exhibition, our award-winning Thoughtography project invited gallery-goers to explore how their mind responded to art.

In the summer of 2015/2016, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei brought two icons of modern art together for the first time. The exhibition spanned the careers of both artists and showcased more than 300 works in total.

The artworks of Warhol   and Weiwei share many parallels. Both artists are known for holding a microscope to their own times; Warhol to the Factory days in America, and Weiwei to contemporary China. Andy Warhol created work dealing with consumer society, fame and society, media and advertising, politics and capital, while Ai Weiwei's work addresses global issues including questions around human rights, freedom of expression and the role of individual and state.

Over 200 seminal Warhol works were displayed – including the Campbell's Soup series and various celebrity portraits – alongside a suite of major commissions by Ai Weiwei and key works from the last four decades of his career.

Partnership highlights: Thoughtography – How Your Mind Sees Art

Throughout the exhibition, we enhanced gallery visitors’ experience with expert talks as part of NGV Friday Nights, as well as an innovative Thoughtography installation.

We wanted to deliver an experience for gallery visitors that showed them how the subconscious mind responds to art. To do this, we used innovative technology to create an award-winning engagement, known as Thoughtography.

Participants were shown artwork from the exhibition while wearing a special dry electrode electroencephalogram (EEG) headset that measured the electrical impulses coming from the frontal lobe of their brain. Each person also wore noise cancelling headphones that filled their ears with white noise, so the only stimulation for their brain was selected pieces of art by Warhol and Weiwei.

A special algorithm interpreted each participant’s brainwave activity to create their unique Thoughtograph in real time, providing a unique ‘fingerprint’ image of how their mind sees art.

Almost 2000 participants created their Thoughtograph with La Trobe at the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition. The installation was recognised by Australia’s two leading awards programs winning the Australian Marketing Institute’s 2016 Awards for Marketing Excellence (National Sponsorship Marketing Award) and Mumbrella’s 2016 BEFest Awards (Best Use of Experiential).

You can see a selection of Thoughtographs at our online gallery.