Fish-brain-machine / Radiona workshop

After constructing the Fish-brain-machine PCB circuits we spent some time experimenting and describing the hallucinogenic visuals created by the stroboscopic light. The ping pong balls over the eyes diffuse the LED light, making for a more intense effect – and enabling use with eyes open. Here they describe some of the effects including seeing colours and ‘a strange experience’ of seeing with only one eye – I get this exact same feeling when using it. It is also hard to know if your eyes are open or closed. [See also Re-mapping the senses workshop ]



Enki PCB

Fish-Brain-Machine circuit
The Fish-Brain-Machine circuit represents biology of an electro-genic fish known as the Black Ghost Knife Fish. These fish navigate with electrical fields generated from within their bodies. Their skin is used as a receptor to see the world around them.

The Enki project used the electrical signals from these fish to control stroboscopic flashing lights that create hallucinogenic visual patterns, that in turn affect our brain states*. Sweat sensors send a signal back to the fish, creating an interconnected loop of biofeedback between the human and fish.

This Fish-Brain-Machine circuit senses sweat levels on your fingertips to control the stroboscopic LEDs. Place this over the eyes, sit back and experience hallucinogenic visuals. The Circuit represents the Enki project in miniature and was designed in collaboration with Marc Dusseiller as part of the Enki exhibition Kapellica Gallery, Ljubljana, SloveniaLink to Enki Project 2012…
See the original Post…

Chip spec :
CMOS Quad-NAND gate

Capacitor 470nJ = 0.47 uF at 63V

2 – 8 MOhm Resistor

2 bright LED’s

Battery Clip (either 9V clip – very bright, or 2 holders for 3V coin batteries)




As part of my Enki exhibition at Kapellica Gallery in Ljubljana 2012, I developed a related perceptual illusions and brain hacks workshop with Marc Dusseiller [Hackteria], as part of the gallery’s Biotech program. We came up with the idea to make a special issue circuit for the workshop and we set to work designing a circuit the encapsulated the Enki project in miniature.


After a couple late nights, we came up with this super cool PCB design. Marc worked hard to create a fully functional efficient design, which was also aesthetically pleasing. The outline of the fish is also the ground in the circuit. This has to be the most ultra minimal brain-machine available to build. 6 components. We spent further late nights acid etching the circuits for the workshop in Marc’s home lab.


It uses ‘biofeedback’ to control the pulse frequency of the lights, low tech Galvanic skin response. Your fingertips press on the fingerprint, acting like a simple resistance meter, sensing the sweat levels to control strobe frequency [specifically 10-30htz to create hallucinations] of two ultra-bright LEDs to create the optical stimulation. The capacitor and resistor set the standby slow pulse and the range within the level necessary to cause visual hallucination. The design incorporates measurement graduations for eye spacing so you can personalise LED placement to fit your eyes.

It’s possible to use extra LEDs and several colours.  After soldering the 6 components its possible to layback and experience your own personal electronic psychedelic experience.

Fish brain interface DIY PCB
Marc Dusseler Fish brain interface DIY PCB

Blind drawing of hand

Blind drawing of hand starting from the left and using a continuous line, before and after experiments.
before-afterCould this exercise be used as a measure of “proprioceptive drift” before and after ‘Rubber hand illusion’ type experiments? I will be exploring this idea soon with the research group at BEAM lab…

Drawing a strange face in the dark

Shortly after my experience of the “Strange face in the mirror experiment”  I made these drawings in low light conditions as a way of recording the perceivable elements of my face and shape of the head. The particles of carbon and graphite reflect well the visual noise, like static, one experiences in the experiment. These drawings don’t illustrate the hallucinations I experienced [these will follow]

“staring at one’s own reflection in a mirror in a darkened room for some time can induce vivid hallucinations. For purposes of research, I had to try it”  My experience of the ‘strange face illusion’…

Drawing in near darkness
Drawing in near darkness

For my description of my experience of the ‘strange face’, illusion see here… “staring at one’s own reflection in a mirror in a darkened room for some time can induce vivid hallucinations. For purposes of research, I had to try it” 
My experience of the ‘strange face illusion’…



Rubber hands ‘feel’ touch that eyes see

The first report on the Rubber Hand illusion. Published in Nature in 1998 by Matthew Botvinick, and Jonathan Cohen of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh…

“We report here an illusion in which tactile sensations are referred to an alien limb. The effect reveals a three-way interaction between vision, touch and proprioception, and may supply evidence concerning the basis of bodily self-identification.”

“It has been proposed that the body is distinguished from other objects as belonging to the self by its participation in specific forms of intermodal perceptual correlation7,8. Subjects in our first experiment who referred their tactile sensations to the rubber hand also consistently reported, in both sections of the questionnaire, experiencing the rubber hand as belonging to themselves. Indeed, eight of ten subjects spontaneously employed terms of ownership in their free-report descriptions, for example: “I found myself looking at the dummy hand thinking it was actually my own.”





God Helmet

Neurologist Michael Persinger created the God Helmet, an actual helmet modified with electrical coils that can create electromagnetic fields in the wearer’s temporal lobes that induces “religious” experiences in the people who put it on. “This is a device to investigate whether religious, spiritual, and mystical experiences had a natural rather than a supernatural source. He speculates that we are somehow programmed so that they can generate religious experiences via our brain’s internal processes.” I was interested in this experiment because of its use of sensory deprivation and the fact it would be relatively easy to recreate [see my DIY neurostimulation attempt 2009] for my Enki project. My plan was to drive it with frequencies generated by my electric fish [a low voltage species].

Persinger noted ‘that there were many points of similarity between seizures experienced by some individuals who suffered from epilepsy, and the types of mental and spiritual experiences that St. Paul, Moses, and many religious mystics had reported. 3 Persinger wondered if visions, a sense of the immediate presence of God, and other mystical experiences could be artificially created in the laboratory by magnetically inducing changes in the temporal lobes of a person’s brain.”

Persinger vs Dawkins: The God Helmet from Tommy Decentralized on Vimeo.