Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

New Screen Idea: Nursery Mobile Brainwave Synchronization

The screen I was interested in manufacturing would attempt to facilitate a controlled sensory deprivation for the viewer and promote an internalized screening process. The immediate surroundings of the viewer would be a coffin like structure or a water tank filled with either sand or water to promote a feeling of weightlessness and isolation. The chamber would be closed and the viewer would be wearing an audio-visual apparatus. At first, I thought the viewer should be watching alchemical experimental films (like those of Harry Smith and Jordan Belson), but later I thought the tangible sensory deprivation would be an ideal situation to initiate hypnagogic and other states of consciousness.
To achieve this I would use visual and auditory stimulus that has been proved scientifically to induce certain neurological changes, namely binaural beats and a light flickering device known as the Dreammachine. Binaural beats are listened to on stereo headphones with one channel playing a tone with a very slight difference in frequency from the other channel. A neurological process called entrainment, or brainwave synchronization where brain waves are stimulated to occur at specific frequencies occurs based on the variance in frequency between the tones. In our natural state, brainwave frequency dictates the state of consciousness we are in. High frequency brainwaves (Gamma Waves) are synonymous with sophisticated mental activities like problem solving. Conversely, on the low end are Delta waves, produced at 4Hz which can incite deep dreamless sleep. Based on tonal variances both of these states can be induced by binaural beats, especially if listened to for a long duration of time. In addition, I would use visuals that are based on similar processes but produce slightly different effects. The Dreammachine produced by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville manufactures flickers of light at various frequencies producing a hypnagogic state similar to the experience one feels prior to sleep. The flashes are meant to be observed while closing ones eyes. By linking the visual flickers with binaural beats that correspond to the same frequencies or whichever combinations seem to have the greatest effect, a person would be inundated with two very powerful brainwave synchronization stimuli.
In order to promote different states of consciousness, I would attach fiducials to a motorized nursery mobile similar to one that might hang above a baby’s cradle. The fiducials would face down and drop on arms of the mobile towards the viewer. The best space for the viewer would be a comfortable flat surface which could have wooden gates surrounding them similar to those surrounding a cradle. Otherwise a simple futon or cushion could suffice. I would expect, if visual and auditory stimuli were correctly synced, the machine could be a very powerful means of inducing states of consciousness.

Sun, January 20 2008 » Future Cinema 2, art+science labs, assignments, augmented reality, emerging technologies, scary, screen assignment, synaesthesia

One Response

  1. Caitlin January 28 2008 @ 12:31 am

    Eli, I love this idea. It does remind me of ‘Altered States’, though… which suggests the rival analogue idea is to dispense with the high tech screens and head straight for the peyote ;)