I just discovered this yesterday, and it’s shot to the VERY top of my long list of must-try BCI applications. It’s called “Ascender,” and it’s a thought-controlled flight-simulator. I don’t mean like, airplane flight, I mean like levitation kind of flight.
Remember our levitating chair? Well NYC-based artist Yehuda Duenyas (AKA XXXY) is creating an installation that has reworked that idea, replacing the chair with a harness. This is how it seems to work: You wear a harness as well as an EEG headset that transmits your brainwaves to custom software, called the Infinity System, which interacts with the StageTech rigging console. This system allows you to use your thoughts to raise and lower the rig, giving you the sensation that you are flying.
Watch a clip of Ascent in testing:
The installation is described as “part speculative simulator, part internal spiritual experience, part renaissance spectacle, part interactive ride.” Once you start to focus, you begin to levitate. The challenge thereafter is to remain focussed through crescendoing aural and visual stimuli designed specifically to break the user’s concentration and thus prevent him/her from reaching the top.
It reminds me of the challenge of flying in dreams. I don’t often dream of flying, and when I do, it’s not easy. I have to concentrate, and it takes a lot of effort to maintain my ascent. Friends that I’ve discussed flying in dreams with also share this experience. Duenya’s installation brilliantly captures this strange phenomenon.
The final work will be presented on May 12th, 2011 at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre in Troy, NY. I foresee a springtime trip to NYC in my future!