Networked_Performance

Digital Inflections: The Einstein’s Brain Project

CTheory Interview: Digital Inflections: The Einstein’s Brain Project — Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow in conversation with Ted Hiebert:

“[B]odies are never event bound and event defined, but event defining — and always at the point of becoming. This is a continual shudder across our work — the body as an ever-receding event horizon. A hole in the fabric of the world, a non-alibi, a white hole.”Einstein’s Brain Project

Introduction: What does the world look like when we turn out the lights? Does it not first surprise us — not with nothingness but with a dance of after-images which, fading, are transformed into patterns of visual noise? And, even after the noise begins to fade, does not the imagination kick in — whether dreams of day or night or blind-spot hallucinations of what would be there if only the eyes were open to see? It is as if the closed eye compels a cognitive hyperactivity that ensures there will always be something to see, even when that vision has no real correlation to the world around us. Even the closed eye knows no solace from the visual.

One imagines that for the camera the situation is different — the camera not being subject to false appearances as a result of what was seen a second before the room went dark. The camera does not know darkness — the camera knows only the nothingness that is a pure absence of stimulus.

Or so one might imagine…

But the real question is whether machines can imagine too, whether in the darkness there is anything that might cause the machines to see as humans do — to see things where there are none, and to recognize within these visual mistakes optical or aesthetic possibilities? Maybe not on purpose, but when properly configured even cameras can be made to see in the dark — and to make up images where there would otherwise be none. Consider the possibilities of the following scenario — seen for the ways it might make the machines themselves imagine:

A camera and a sensitive microphone are turned on, but enclosed in a completely light tight, anechoic box. They record no image, receive no light and sense no sound. The camera input is adjusted with maximum gain and brightness to reveal the video noise inherent in the system. This noise provides a medium that can potentially be modified by external electromagnetic forces. […] Face tracking algorithms using a cascade of Haar classifiers scan the random noise in each video frame and look for any combination of pixels that form the most basic characteristics of a human face — areas that can be loosely characterized as eyes, nose and mouth with a sufficient degree of symmetry. When the software finds such a combination of pixels and symmetry the area is zoomed to full screen, its contrast and brightness adjusted, blurred and desaturated to clarify the found image. [1]

In their words:

Einstein’s Brain is a collaborative, immersive, virtual and augmented reality work that explores the notion of the brain as a real and metaphoric interface between bodies and worlds in flux, and that examines the idea of the world as a construct sustained through the neurological processes contained within the brain. It suggests that the world is not some reality outside ourselves, but that it is the result of an interior process that makes and sustains our body image and its relationship to a world, and that the investigation of virtual reality, its potential use as a perceptual filter, and its accompanying social space is an exploration of the new constructions of consciousness and the consequent technological colonization of the body. [2]

What follows is an edited series of electronic conversations with Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow on aspects of recent EBP projects and ongoing topics of inquiry…” Continue reading here.


Feb 26, 14:37
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