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 ]
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, Slovenia. Link to Enki Project 2012… See the original Post…
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.
Some documentation from a day working with Greg Byatt developing a system to work with the IBVA [Brainwave visulisation] interface. Such as attaching the Electric signal discharge output from the Electric Fish to acupuncture pads placed on our arms, to see if we could perceive the signal and also seeing how the fish behaved.
No conclusive results. More time needed!
In preparation for the next Enki event, we spent the day testing the neuro-graphic interface; as an experiment, we patched a strong frequency via MIDI to a MAX patch so our brains were modulating all kinds of strange sounds. Later this will combine with the Enki interface as a form of feedback. In this image you can see the graphics of the brain activity and the receiver boxes – the sensors are wireless and stuck to our foreheads.
Some of the early experiments for the Enki project at Museum of Science and Technology Manchester 2006…
We recorded brainwave data and monitored the behaviour of the electric fish during the experiment. The electrical activity of the fish is experienced as sound and light via ENKI (a stroboscopic high frequency led placed close to eyelid) and the natural binaural frequencies produced by the interaction and communication between Black Ghost Knife fish. The participant’s bio-electric field was connected to the aquarium allowing the fish to sense a human (bio)electric image or presence.
Museum of Science and Industry Manchester, 7th October 2006
This project formed the basis for my PhD proposal. Initially, an investigation into the behaviour of electric fish which have an ability to navigate and communicate using electro-perception. I investigate ways in which to communicate and interact with them. In considering how it was possible to do this, I soon started to become interested more widely in perceptual and psychological experiments with humans; themes of interconnectedness, extending sensory perception. More specifically a notion of the ‘body as eclectic image’ which I will be elaborating on the next few weeks…
” The ENKI project was developed through an Arts Council, International Artists Fellowship, Pepiniere programme, Paris, with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) France in 2006. It has been shown in the UK Europe including, Dutch Electronic Arts Festival, NL, CAAC, Seville, Spain 2007. International Festival of Art /Science /New Technologies, Prague, the European Forum for Emerging Creation Luxembourg and Spectropia08, Riga, Latvia. Most recently in 2009 – 20010 ‘ENKI Experiment 3’ was commissioned by Arts Catalyst for the show Interspecies.” shown in London and Manchester and most recently for my solo show atKapellica Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2013
Diagram of the experiment set up for the installation at Corner house, Manchester 2009
“ENKI was a series of experiments in bio-interfacing between humans and certain types of Electrogenic Fish. Ultimately this is achieved through psycho-acoustic audio and visual entrainment as a means of modulating human emotional state. During this process bio-electrical activity is monitored and used as a means to create a feedback loop between organisms.
The research aims to study interaction between tiny bio-electrical fields of both species [human and fish] specifically the they way in which these fields modulate and the means of controlling them. It also aims to discover if it is possible to create a harmonious state of interaction that can be of benefit to both species, no matter how different.”
I met Martin Howse in 2009 when he invited me to do a workshop for his micro research series in Berlin. At the time he had a fantastic apartment with a large garage space for a studio. The large table at its centre became sprawled with electronics by the end of the day. I had the opportunity to take a look at some of his projects, wonderful hand-drawn circuits burnt and encrusted that looked more like remnants from some other device of unknown function. For this workshop we investigated Amplitude Modulation, turning light into sound, use of the LM chips as an amplifier and using light sensors as an input, and making LEDs and lasers transmit sounds and signals through light over distance. [ See iLog Photsynthisiser] as well as some more experiments in ganzfeld perception.