The Ultimate Relax to Win Dynamic

I came across an article in a Sunday newspaper a couple of weeks ago about an artist called xxxy who has created an installation using a BCI of sorts.  I’m piecing this together from what I read in the paper and what I could see on his site, but the general idea is this: person wears a portable EEG rig (I don’t recognise the model) and is placed in a harness with wires reaching up and up and up into the ceiling.  The person closes their eyes and relaxes – presumably as they enter a state of alpha augmentation, they begin to levitate courtesy of the wires.  The more that they relax or the longer they sustain that state, the higher they go.  It’s hard to tell from the video, but the person seems to be suspended around 25-30 feet in the air.

The installation by xxxy is called The Ascent – you can read more about it here and watch a couple of short videos.

I don’t think they use the EEG signal to bring the person back down to the ground again – you would have to be very confident of your ability to control alpha waves to do that from 30 ft up in the air.  I like to think of it as the ultimate relax to win dynamic, either relax or plummet to the ground from a great height.  But seriously, it did make me think about the approach in a therapeutic context; for those who suffer from a fear of heights, this kind of controlled exposure to a vertical ascent plus alpha augmentation might have some benefits.

As I say, the details are kind of sketchy so apologies in advance if I got anything wrong.





6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Relax to Win Dynamic

  1. Kiel Gilleade

    Its an Emotiv.

    There has been a range of cool physical world hacks using BCI’s of late. My particular favourite involves using a Neurosky EEG device to control the height of a flame. Given my ability to control my Force Trainer I’m likely to burn my house down before I can put out the fire 🙂

  2. Christian

    It is an emotiv which comes with an affect recognition toolbox, I believe. I don’t know what they (emotiv) use to predict the affective state (relaxation), but I see that she closes her eyes to relax, which affects the posterior alpha rhythm just by shutting out any visual input. While I would like to try the art work, I would be careful about any interpretation concerning the reading of the affective state.

    1. Steve Fairclough Post author

      Hi Christian – thanks for your comment. I agree that the closing of the eyes points to an alpha augmentation driving the loop that controls the system. The Emotiv comes with a couple of toolboxes, such as a cognitive suite and an affective suite. Unfortunately these suites appear to be black boxes, I can’t find any material on how the scores are derived and how the algorithm was validated. Regards, Steve

  3. michael roberts

    These applications of adaptive architecture are very impressive. I’ve seen (at Nottingham University) an adaptive ‘tent’ which changes its form and colour in response to shifting EEG patterns (no ref’s yet, very much at early stages). It looked ace and was strangely calming. Combined with this ‘floating’ harness I can see an interesting alternative to flotation tanks…biofeedback as a therapeutic tool!

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