Astronauts of the inner world: mapping the experience
In collaboration with KNAW
The outside world now has, geographically, almost no secrets anymore – there are virtually no ‘white spots’ to be found anymore. The inner world, on the other hand, is one big Terra Incognita. We will always take an important step in mapping our brain, but what about our feelings and experiences?
Over the past two years, scientists and artists within the If You Are Not There project, Where Are you together, study how you can map absence epilepsy experiences. What is happening in the brain during attacks of this condition that often occurs in children and young people is well known, about the experience these children have virtually nothing. Is it possible to map these too? How do they actually relate to our brain? And can artists help with this by asking other questions?
An evening with card makers, neuroscientists, film and dream catchers.
About the speaker
Desmond Spruijt is the founder of Mapping Worlds – how do you transform big data into clear maps. He talks about the history of making maps and the importance of ‘empty places on the map’ and how to deal with them, using examples from history and his own practice. Desmond works for Unesco, IMF and the World Steel Association.
Maartje Nevejan is a film and mixed media maker. After years of documenting the outside world, she now focuses on the documentation of the inner world. She will talk about her project If You Are Not There, Where Are You, in which she mapped out the inner experiences of children and adolescents with absence epilepsy through art film and VR, with a collective of scientists and artists. How can you ‘map’ this rather unknown subjective experience and form new knowledge? She shows fragments of research on film and in VR.
Linde van Schuppen is phenomenal, currently promoted on schizophrenic language and combines insights from philosophy, psychiatry, neuroscience and linguistics.
Patricia Pisters is professor of Media Studies at the UvA and founder of the Worlding the Brain festival that brings together neuroscientists, artists and Humanities. She talks about the growing trend to focus Consciousness in film and visual art. She also talks about the developments and possibilities of ‘mapping our inner world’ for film, visual art and neuroscience.
Marjolijn Boterenbrood is a visual artist and mapmaker. The starting point is always a place in her work. A place that can vary in scale from a wall to a district. This forms the connection between the different projects, ranging from drawings, objects, photographs and installations to an atlas, a starting point for future art policy or a role as a driver for urban development. Marjolein talks about her own work and the map she has developed for the IYANTWAY project.
Ysbrand van de r Werf is attached to the Nederlands Herseninstituut and conducts research into sleep and cognition. In his research he tries to bridge the gap between fundamental research and its applicability.
Steven Claus de Jong is a brain scientist / neurologist / meditation and yoga instructor and expert in the cultivation of emotional balance. He was at the nursery of pioneering scientific research on the brain mapping and at the same time he mapped his own mind through meditation and yoga training. This brought him so much that he decided, together with his wife, to make it a full-time career to let individuals and businesses benefit from this through training provided by their company My Mind Farm.
Joris Weijdom is a mixed reality researcher at the HKU and was involved in the project as an artist / researcher. He is moderator of this evening.
A new temporal aesthetic in films such as Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2046, and The Hangover
In Out of Time, Todd McGowan takes as his starting point the emergence of a temporal aesthetic in cinema that arose in response to the digital era. Linking developments in cinema to current debates within philosophy, McGowan claims that films that change the viewer’s relation to time constitute a new cinematic mode: atemporal cinema.
Chronesthesia, or mental time travel, is a mental ability first hypothesized by Endel Tulving in the 1980s. This refers to the ability to be aware of one’s past or future. While many may describe it as uniquely human, others now argue that this ability can transcend to include non-human animals as well as birds. The mechanisms of mental time travel are not yet fully understood since there is a level of obscurity and complexity when trying to measure if or when someone underwent mental time travel or not. However, studies have been conducted to map out areas of the brain that may be responsible for mental time travel.
Funes is the fictional story of Ireneo Funes, who, after falling off his horse and receiving a bad head injury, acquired the amazing talent — or curse — of remembering absolutely everything. (…)
From «The Guardian»
The good news, as reported in Scientific American Mind, is that you can. Attempting not to think about something can notoriously have the opposite effect – the «don’t think of a white bear!» problem – but research showssuppression gets better with practice and substituting a thought with another thought can work well, too. Intriguingly, those who are best at deliberate forgetting are those who are also best at remembering things. (People with ADHD are worse at it.) A sharp and healthy mind is one that can remember and forget. Distracting yourself is another technique that gets a bad rap but that can be similarly effective: in one study, having to press a button each time a word-cue appeared led to as much forgetting as deliberately trying to block it. «Action interferes with recollection,» as one researcher put it. Want to forget your screw-up at work today? Cook a complex dinner tonight.
As a society, argues internet scholar Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, we’re getting worse at forgetting, thanks to the web: Amazon, Google and Facebook remember everything you use them for, for ever. In his book Delete, he calls for legal efforts to change the default, so that unless you choose otherwise, your online activities will eventually slip into the memory hole. It’ll never happen. But it’s a welcome intervention in the polarised debate between advocates of privacy and publicness. Perhaps «living in public» in the digital era would be less unsettling if we could trust that the web – like an optimally functioning human mind, rather than one with a disorder such as Price’s – might eventually also forget.
Artificial Neural Network
Neural networks have been used with computers since the 1950s. Through the years, many different models have been presented. The perceptron is one of the earliest neural networks. It was an attempt to understand human memory, learning and cognitive processes. To construct a computer capable of «human-like thought», the researchers have used the only working model they have available – the human brain. However, the human brain as a whole is far too complex to model. Rather, the individual cells that make up the human brain are studied. Following is introduced the schema of the most used artificial neural network.
For the task of predicting the indexes, we’ll be using the so called multilayer feed forward network which is the best choice for this type of application. In a feed forward neural network, neurons are only connected forward. Each layer of the neural network contains connections to the next layer, but there are no connections back. Typically, the network consists of a set of sensory units (source nodes) that constitute the input layer, one or more hidden layers of computation nodes, and an output layer of computation nodes. In its common use, most neural networks will have one hidden layer, and it’s very rare for a neural network to have more than two hidden layers. The input signal propagates through the network in a forward direction, on a layer by layer basis. These neural networks are commonly referred as multilayer perceptrons (MLPs). Shown below is a simple MLP with 4 inputs, 1 output, and 1 hidden layer.
Nowdays we have devices of «digital memory» (Clipnarrative, Mecam…etc) that offer us the possibility of storage our daily live for an affordable price and little effort.
I´m really interesting in all the questions that this fact open about a possible future where we can rewind our memory everytime we need and the consequences of this permanent digital memory. We know that the act of remembering is as important as the act of forgetting (We need both in order to have a healthy mind). But beyond this questions I want to use this devices in order to experiment with multiperspective narrative, memory narrative and digital visualization of forgetting.
I´ve been thinking about create the following exercise (this is an idea in development).
1. Four people are asked to use for one day this tiny camera.
2. These four people have to be a group (friends, family etc) who are going to be part or attend to the same event that day.
3. The event should be a meaningful event for that group. Of course the most interesting the event and the group of people are the more interesting will be the exercise. So this is a very important point, but I need time to think and research about it.
4. Days after the event they will be asked about what they remember about that day (They will be asked to try to remember everything hour per hour).Their memories will be recorded.
5. The memories of each person will be check with the image they recorded.
6. The image will be distort through a process called «Databending» creating an effect called «Wordpad Effect». This software disrupt, intentionally, the information contained within a file. The level of distorsion in the image will be directly proportional to the level of forgetting in their memories. So if certain moment is remebered by the person very well the image will be very clear without «Wordpad effect». In the case a moment is forgotten the image will be highly distorsionated by this effect.
7. I will try to recreate that day an their experience mixing togueter all their memories within an Spatial Montage, where we can see and hear different interpretations of the same day and verify their memories. I think I can create an interesting exercise with all these elements but I have to think more about it. So…
To be continued…
`One of the most persuasive mistakes is to believe that our visual system gives a faithfull representation of what is «out there» in the same way that a movie camera would do. (…)You are not seeing the world in the rich detail that you implicitly believed you were; in fact, you are not aware of most of what hits your eyes. You only encode small amounts of information. The rest is assumption´
This words come from the book «Incógnito» written by the neuroscientist and writer David Engleman. I read this book time ago but a few months ago re-reading the parts that I highlited, I started to think if what we see, our level of atention, can be even more reduce in situations we´re too aware of ourselves. I found this idea relevant for my research because is related to the idea of «Reconsolidation» expose in my Research proposal and lead me to the idea that memories can be less reliable as much closer we´re involve on them. So I asked my self:
How much can change the level of attention if an spectator watch a situation with and without him?.
Which one is going to be more reliable when the spectator will remeber them? The one he is involved in or the one who is not?
What Can the difference between the level of attention tell us about the spectator? What Can the difference between his memories ( where he is involve or not) tell us about him?
This questions are linked to the core of my research proposal:
«Obviously, it was all a product of her illness, but as strange as it might sound, the way in which her memories evolved –with all those deliriums of fantasy- helped me understand and get to know who my grandmother really was.»
The evolution of memories can help us to decipher the inner self and the multiple layers behind the surface, as I experienced with my grandmother.
And because I think this is crucial for understanding the brain´s narrative so therefore the narrative I´m seeking for my project I want to made the following experiment:
1. Film 5 persons in an specific situation without them being aware of it.
2. Show to each person the video. In one part of it the person is involved and in the other part the person is not there. Meanwhile they are watching the video one camera (in the same situation of the screen) is filming the person. This video will be used to obtain the eye tracking in order to see how much attention have the person about the global scene while he is there (how much the person look himself during the sequence) and when he is not involved. This will be the first indicator of self awareness.
3. Some questions will be asked to the person about what happened in each part of the video. The difference between the level of attention in each part of the video (the one he is involved and the one he is not) will give us the second level of self awareness.
4. After the screening the person will be asked about what he remember about the two parts of the video.
5. After a period of time the person will be asked 9 times more (with an space of days or months among them) about what he remember from the two parts of the video. With this points (4 and 5) I want to see if the memories where we are involved could be less reliable than the memories we are not. But also see if the memories where we are involved are more supceptible to change while recreating them than the one we are not involved in.
I´m still thinking about this exercise and new points to ad an change but I think it could be a very interesting process in order to see how our level of self awareness can change our perception of facts and memories and how much the act of «reconsolidation» reveal about us.
…to be continued…
Lev Manovich defined the term “spatial montage” for a type of montage that modifies the traditional form of perceiving time in narration and that opposes the idea of succession and sequence. It’s a montage whereby there is no continuity among associated images. It’s therefore no longer one image after the other, but one image plus another. The spatial organization does not seek to prioritize or to offer a fixed path. It’s not so much the images that are of interest, but the relations that can be found between the links and connections of the images.
This “between” implies being aware of what is not in the image, that which remains outside. A “between” that Gilles Delluze singled out as the starting point from which modern cinema developed new relations with thought:
“[…] the deleting of an everything or a total of images in the benefit of an “outside” that can insert itself between them”.
Spatial montage thus seeks to become more an image of thought that a reflection of reality. The intention is not to retell a story but to present an image in which we can get lost, that we can construct, de-construct, and find different senses or non-senses.
Although there is a broad range of artists and works that have tried to reflect the concepts and forms hereby described, my intention is to develop this narrative concept through an interactive montage that uses programming and new technologies. This structure, with hypertext features, gives us access to different connections among the three stories.
The development of the spatial montage will imply working together with a programmer and will be one of the fundamental pillars of the research project for the Master.