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KUECHENBERG:  ‪so how does this work?‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪‬‬First let me know which project you'd like to start the conversation with

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪my projects? or someone else's?‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪Your project

‬‬

Alex Kuechenberg

Watch Me Watch You Watch Me Watch You, 2012

Immersive Perceptual Bio-feedback Loop

Programmed light sequence of custom hardware and software and EEG

 

RAMOS: Thank you for joining me Alex

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪thanks for having me?‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪please tell me about this image‬‬

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪The image is photo documentation of a user testing session we ran on the project "watchyouwatchmewatchyou"‬‬

 

the image is just a representation of the experience as an object‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪and the object is a controlled environment of sort‬‬

 

at least controlling sound and what the person is able to view

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪the object is what it appears as in the image. a chamber. with light.

‬‬

for a single user

 

i think the image is somewhat striking in that is communicates the feeling of isolation that was critical in the experience

‬‬

but beyond that, its just an image

 

and the experience was impossible to document

 

as most are

 

‪the chamber was designed to isolate a single user from stimuli... both visual and aural.

 

RAMOS:  ‪i  definitely want to move on to the object or the experience or whatever is going on from the view of the user

‬‬

‪in the project explanation ‬‬ there are a series of color panoramas

 

‬‬‪five colors‬‬

 

Alex Kuechenberg

Watch Me Watch You Watch Me Watch You, 2012

Immersive Perceptual Bio-feedback Loop

Programmed light sequence of custom hardware and software and EEG

 

 

 

RAMOS: is this what the user is viewing?

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪yes, the user is immersed in a limitless field of colored light.

 

each color is associated with a brain state, from delta up through gamma.

 

These brain states are associated with modes of consciousness, from deep REM sleep(Delta) up through the alert and active awake state (gamma).

‬‬

RAMOS:  ‪what are the rules for the colors‬‬?

 

is it a matter of cool colors versus warm colors for example?

 

or specific hues

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪while in each color phase, the light strobes at the rate of the associated brain state/frequency.... so for example, when in green, the light would be strobing at theta, which is 4-7 Hz/cycles per second.

‬‬

the colors are actually somewhat arbitrary, but it is the strobe rates that are being re-presented as read from the users brain, in real time

 

RAMOS:  ‪gotcha.. so then what is a simple way to explain the rules of frequency?

‬‬

higher or faster frequencies are the more awake states or Gamma and then lower or slower frequencies are Delta?

 

that would be my guess... but i'm not sure, it might be inverse

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪exactly.‬‬

 

the higher the frequency, the more alert

 

red was the highest frequency, and so the fastest strobe rate

 

‪i assigned the colors to give the user a reference point to start to perceive states of being which are normally intangible‬‬

 

‪the core idea being that if we can evolve to be more in-tuned with these states, we might have better control of our responses and in turn our experience in life

‬‬

‪it was an instrument for better understanding of ourselves and our inner workings and as a result perhaps be more equipped to respond... to ourselves. to others. to our environment

 

RAMOS:  ‪better control of responses...‬‬

 

‬‬‪is this where electroencephalography comes in?‬‬

 

KUECHENBERG: ‬‬the EEG was the tool/sensor used to read the user's brain

 

‪it would be worn while an individual was in the chamber, and after a 15 minutes calibration period it would feed the data it was reading from the user to a custom program which would control the light sequencing in the chamber

‬‬

a sort of immersive bio-feedback loop

 

RAMOS:  ‪so the data coming from EEG controllers went on to control the frequency of the light

‬‬

in a way the subconscious controlled the experience

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪at some point you might wonder what was influencing what.... and if it mattered....

‬‬

RAMOS: ‬‬right

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪yes‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪the user then became a witness of their own subconscious‬‬

 

KUECHENBERG: correct

 

‪but then how was the experience controlling the subconscious

 

RAMOS:  ‪so rather the user became a witness of it's interaction with their own experience‬‬

 

did you have this experience?

 

where you in the chamber?

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪i spent what would probably be considered an unhealthy amount of time in that thing‬‬

 

days... weeks..

.

the better part of 6 months

 

just in the instrument after a year and a half of R+D prototyping/software dev

 

RAMOS:  ‪and‬‬

 

how was it? what did you learn?

 

is there anything to learn?

 

where you at all able to control or be conscious of your subconscious control of the experience?

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪i learned that it would take years of conditioning. it was a new way of being.

 

the instrument only offered a representation and it would be up to the user to invest the time and discipline in developing a practice of how to use it.

 

gradually becoming aware of connections to the self and the external. like any other instrument really.

‬‬

after a while, it became clear that i could coheres myself from alertness into relaxation.

 

but i think what was more interesting and unexpected, was the visual artifacts that occurred as a result of the shifting strobe rates

 

fractal patterning like nothing i've seen

 

i realized you could create compositions this way

 

RAMOS:  ‪seems to be somewhere between meditation and hallucination?‬‬

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪that had content.... narrative‬‬

 

‬meditation with visual feedback‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪and where did the visual narrative come from?‬‬

 

what i understood was that you saw more than what the frequency had to offer... is that true?

 

KUECHENBERG: yes

 

‪but the feedback which appeared external was actually an artifact of the way our brain processes information‬‬

 

it was just pure color and flashing light

 

but you would see complex patterns

 

i wanted to test to see if those were consistent across users

 

like, does blue 4Hz produce spiraling triangle fractals in all users?

 

and is so, you could feasibly create a visual narrative this way

 

RAMOS:  ‪so then everyone saw the fractals?‬‬

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪everyone reported seeing varying geometry‬‬

 

but i did not set the testing up for that aspect

 

so i was not able to cross reference the visual reports

 

RAMOS:  ‪have you thought of reproducing this experience in a visual way.. as in, do you have any drawings of what you saw?

‬‬

or does anyone?

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪in the video of users right after the experience. there are a couple clips of the sphere but the cameras frame rate was not fast enough to capture

‬‬

i think about building it again often

 

i wish it were my bed

 

RAMOS: is it part of the strategy to overload the conscious state so that one has to let go and allow the subconscious to take over?

‬‬

and perhaps once the conscious state lets go or stops trying to make sense of the chaos... or overwhelming factor... new narratives can come in

 

and only then can these geometric shapes can become a narrative

 

and these patterns might be a language of the subconscious

 

"a pattern that seems to transcend the focus" said one of the users

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪sure. though there really was no "strategy" per say. again, I only tried to create an instrument to allow people to see normally unconscious aspects of themselves‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪you did mention this earlier.... "gradually becoming aware of connections to the self and the external"

‬‬

was this aspect successful?

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪yes. i think that aspect was inherent in the experience. The ability to control had to be built over time, but the understanding that you, yourself, were generating the external experience was very clear.‬‬

 

RAMOS:  ‪when you say .. "a connection to the self" .. you assume we are somewhat disconnected‬‬

 

how do you explain that?

 

what are we if not the self?

 

i know i am getting  Eckhart Tolle on you... but it's relevant

 

KUECHENBERG: ‬‬disconnected. absolutely

 

and to use technology as a means to try to explore that is.....

 

well.... what I was investigating at the time

 

what are we if not the self? a re-presentation of what we perceive to be wanted by others.....

 

what is my understanding of being connected to self? being able to tap into the state i was in before there were others... only self. no separation between in and out. me and it. here n there.

‬‬

pre-experience self

 

pre-culture self

 

RAMOS:  ‪the self in complete isolation‬‬

 

the embryo self

 

KUECHENBERG:  ‪the innate self ‬‬

 

the ultimate selfie

 

‪the self taking a selfie of the self taking a selfie of the self ad infinitum‬‬

 

"self" is a weird looking word.‬‬

‬‬