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 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.


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.

Multilayer Perceptron

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.