One Thousand Mindreaders
I'm Stuart Nolan, a performer, magician, creative technologist, trainer, and coach.
I want to train One Thousand Mindreaders in a year and I need your help.
The skill I want to give people isn't supernatural or New Age woo. It's a simple physical skill known as muscle reading.
What is muscle reading?
Muscle reading is a way of learning to use your sense of touch to detect the delicate micro-muscle movements that happen in another person's body when they focus their attention on a physical action.
It's a skill that dancers, actors, athletes, and musicians use all the time without knowing they are using it or how they can improve it.
It's a simple skill, easy and incredibly enjoyable to learn. People are astounded when they quickly learn to read each other's minds just by holding hands.
Muscle reading gives people a powerful and playful experience of focused mindfulness, intimate empathy, and invigorated connection. The process of learning is both gently relaxing when focusing on the sense of touch, and intensely exciting when you see the amazing results.
"The directors of ZU-UK had the pleasure of participating in Stuart's muscle reading workshop. It was an unforgettable experience that imparts the vital skills of listening, concentration, focus and collaboration. Stuart's skills are invaluable for strengthening connection between partners increasing powers of empathy".
"The mind is a muscle."
- Yvonne Ranier, choreographer and film-maker.
These architecture students are learning how to find an object that their partner has hidden in the building.
"The workshop with Stuart Nolan changed my perception of magic and illusion forever. Not only could I see the depth of thinking and craft involved, it also transformed my attitude to my own design practice."
"A wonderful experience... a real stand out moment in my education."
- Students at The Architectural Association
These new mindreaders are reproducing drawings that their partner is merely thinking about. They've never met each other before. It's an intriguing, trusting, and intimate way to get to know people very quickly.
Take a look at the image below. One person drew the drawing on the left without their partner seeing it, then hid the drawing. Then they held their partner's wrist while merely thinking about the drawing.
Their partner moved the pencil around on the paper trying to sense which direction they should draw and in this way, they made the drawing on the right.
"I love the fresh perspective and thought bomb Stuart explodes in our crew. The muscle reading workshop was incredibly interactive and I watched in awe as Stuart managed to have 40 students from 28 different cultures each have their own moment of OH! NO WAY! - including myself." - Tash Wilcocks, Programme Leader Digital Design Management, Hyper Island.
A Community of Experimental Mindreaders
I've been exploring muscle reading for the past five years with computer scientists, psychologists, performers, dancers, and artists. I've made mindreading devices and apps that sense muscle movement. I've taught live audiences how to read each other's fingers and created collaborative performances with newly trained muscle readers.
Two years ago was the first time I tried teaching people how to use their sense of touch to duplicate drawings. It was a group of psychologists and artists and none of them thought it would work. By the end of the session, everybody was duplicating drawings.
I genuinely love how happy and amazed people get when they start reading minds using their sense of touch. If the job of a magician is to astonish people then this is the best magic I’ve ever done.
I want to use One Thousand Mindreaders to grow the community of people from all walks of life who are benefitting from using muscle reading to train their sense of touch in play, art, sports, psychology, and healthcase.
One Thousand Mindreaders will investigate the different ways we construct, and respond to, our multiple conceptualizations of mindreading. It will capture how, using our sense of touch alone, we create the intimate, playful, trusting, and delicately embodied acts of making drawings together and of finding lost objects together.
Dr. Hannah Drayson will be studying the project from the perspective of her work on both biomedical ontologies and technical and conceptual manifestations of the embodied imagination.
"Stuart’s workshop was the most popular event in our Sound:Vision:Place programme. The results were astounding and provided valuable insight into micro-muscle moments and how these could translate into empathy exercises for performers."
- Nik Taylor, Subject Leader for Drama, Theatre and Performance & Co-ordinator of the Magic Research Group, The University of Huddersfield.
Muscle Reading Therapy
In 2007 I was diagnosed with CFS/ME. Along with the other horrible symptoms, I discovered I had completely lost my ability to perform muscle reading. The nerve pain and muscle fatigue had left me cut off from my own sense of touch and it felt as though my body no longer belonged to me.
I found that practicing muscle reading helped my recovery a great deal and it now helps me to manage the condition.
I want to explore how our sense of touch relates to our health and how the practice of muscle reading can help with physical therapy, compassionate social care, and everyday wellbeing.
“We asked Stuart Nolan to run a workshop for us to share some of his techniques and approaches. Stuart was really skillful at making the link between magic, mind-reading, and the world of health and social care in which we work.” - Professor Stuart Eglin, BA Hons, Cert MHS, PhD, FRSA. Chief Executive, NHS R&D North West
Showcasing The New Mindreader's Skills
Throughout the year, the new mindreaders will showcase their new skills through demonstrations and performances.
At the end of the year, there will be an exhibition of their drawings and the hidden & found objects.
The exhibition catalogue will be a limited edition of 1000, containing full-color images of selected drawings and objects, images and stories from the new mindreaders, and essays by myself and Dr. Drayson. The exact format will be decided when the content is selected.
One Thousand Mindreaders uses a Pay It Forward model.
Organisations with funding that host One Thousand Mindreaders are asked to provide the venue, participants, materials, and travel & accommodation expenses. In addition, they are asked to make whatever Pay It Forward contribution they can in order to fund sessions for groups that have no funding and can't pay at all.
Each workshop costs around £600. The costs vary a lot for different venues but here is a typical example.
I give my time and skills for free because I believe it is an incredible skill to pass on to people.
The exhibition will cost £5,000. Here is a breakdown of how that money will be spent.
Any money made from the exhibition - sales of the drawings, hidden & found objects, and catalogues - will fund more sessions with disadvantaged groups.
How You Can Help
If you can help in any of these ways I would be immensely grateful:
1. If you only have a few seconds to spare please help me get the word out. You can share my link to your Facebook Timeline for instance.
2. I'm trying to raise £12,000 to run 20 free sessions with non-funded and disadvantaged groups. If you know of a group that would benefit please let me know. Please donate if you can.
3. I'm trying to raise £4,000 for the exhibition that will showcase the amazing skills of the new mindreaders. Please donate if you can.
4. I am looking for more funded organisations to host more One Thousand Mindreaders sessions. Do you know any who would be interested?
5. I am looking for places to tour the exhibition of drawings and found objects in 2019. Do you know any places that would be interested?
Please contact me with any ideas that you think would help.
Please keep sharing the campaign. Have a great weekend X
The most exciting thing is that the hosts have wonderful new ideas for One Thousand Mindreaders that go way beyond my original intentions.
This week I’ll be with game designers exploring ideas for games that give you superpowers based on your sense of touch.
Next week I’ll begin a fellowship looking at how the sense of touch can be communicated through crowds using a super-fast 5G network.
Next month I’ll be with a healthcare organisation exploring how nurses use touch as part of their daily expressions of care and compassion.
Please keep spreading the word. I feel I’m only scratching the surface of how One Thousand Mindreaders can help different groups explore our sense of touch.
Note: If you’re a London-based organisation considering hosting I’ll be there 12-14th March and available to fit in some extra sessions.