Strange face illusion with two-way Mirror feedback

 

A version of the Strange Face illusion with video feedback and face tracking through a two-way mirror

“… a quiet room dimly lit by a 25 W incandescent light. The lamp was placed on the floor behind the observer so that it was not visible either directly or in the mirror. A relatively large mirror (0.5 m60.5 m) was placed about 0.4 m in front of the observer. The luminance of the reflected face image within the mirror was about 0.2 cd mÿ2 and this level allowed detailed perception of fine face traits but attenuated colour perception…The task of the observer was to gaze at his/her reflected face within the mirror. Usually, after less than a minute, the observer began to perceive the strange-face illusion…”  Giovanni B Caputo, Perception, 2010, volume 39, pages 1007 – 1008 2010

 

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Illusions of Invisible, alien hands, 3 arms, and shrinking bodies…

I have previously posted about the original ‘rubber hand illusion‘ in which participants are convinced a fake rubber hand is their own. A classic low tech experiment that can help us “understand how sight, touch and “proprioception” the sense of body position, combine to create a convincing feeling of body ownership, one of the foundations of self-consciousness  (Nature 1998, vol 391, p 756 )” Further to this research recent studies have gone on to experimentally induct of out of body experiences or create body swap illusions. [ Henrik Ehrsson and Olaf Blanke http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/ucl-foe081407.php ] Between these two experiments, several interesting versions of hand-related experiments also exist which demonstrate the plasticity of our body perception…

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The Alien-Hand Experiment (Nielsen 1963;1978 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11097-005-5854-4]  

The Alien Hand Experiment first created in the 1960s predates the Rubber hand experiment, seems more ‘trick’ than an experiment, but the element of deception is necessary, participants are asked to draw a straight line while viewing their gloved hand in a mirror. Unbeknown to them, they are viewing the experimenter’s hand mimicking their own actions. This could also relate to the Alien hand syndrome [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059570/ ] a rare condition in which a person believes their hand is controlled by someone else.

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[Guterstam, Gentile & Ehrsson. 2013. The Invisible Hand Illusion: Multisensory Integration Leads to the Embodiment of a Discrete Volume of Empty Space. J Cogn Neurosci http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00393 ]
The Invisible Hand Illusion is a version of the Rubber hand illusion which uses no hand at all as the fake hand, sometimes a handless stump, and as a control, a wooden plank. they found that participants could embody a ‘Discrete Volume of Empty Space’ a concept which personally I find too exciting not to try at the next available opportunity.

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[Guterstam, Petkova & Ehrsson. 2011. The Illusion of Owning a Third Arm. PLoS ONE http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017208]
This experiment uses a rubber hand placed next to the real hand of the participant. They found participants were able to feel as if they had two hands, as long as they were both the same hand [left or right]

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Stelarc ‘Third Hand’

There is obvious resonance here with the work of Stelarc http://stelarc.org/?catID=20265  whos project ‘Third Hand’ as he explains “A mechanical human-like hand that is attached to my right arm as an additional hand. It is made to the dimensions of my real right hand.”

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[van der Hoort, B., Guterstam, A., & Ehrsson, H. (2011). Being Barbie: The Size of One’s Own Body Determines the Perceived Size of the World 10.1371/journal.pone.0020195 ]
The project “Being Barbie: The Size of One’s Own Body Determines the Perceived Size of the World” Builds on the set up created for the body swap illusion and plays with body scale with fascinating results.

There are more but will have to wait for another post.

Face as Interface

Trying to create a simple motion tracking patch using PD_extended and Gem, I came across this project by Elektro Moon Vision http://elektromoon.co.nr/ the mini App provides OSC data from movements such as eyebrows, nose, mouth, orientation scale etc. This is massively useful for an experiment I have in mind related to the “strange face in the mirror illusion” The data can be captured and used to control a 3D model in virtual space for example. Matching rotation, scale and orientation to the model and the movement of my head…

This is a simple motion detection patch that tracks the difference between two frames creating ghostly outlines of momentarily disembodied features. Its sensitive enough to pick up facial expressions such as the movement of muscles and eyeballs. A combination of these two systems should be enough to develop a system of projecting on to a face and follow its movements.

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In this video still, the tracking detects the movement of my left side of the face as I smile on one side, to see if it detects the movement of my mouth as well as cheek muscles. the Red circle detects the centre of mass of the image 

 

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Sensing motion by measuring differences in live video frames Using Pure Data and GEM

 

See here for the experiments with the strange face in the mirror illusion so far…

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’…

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Drawing in near darkness
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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’…

 

 

My experience of the ‘strange face illusion’

I had read about this experiment by which 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. I found my bathroom could meet the following requirements…

“… a quiet room dimly lit by a 25 W incandescent light. The lamp was placed on the floor behind the observer so that it was not visible either directly or in the mirror. A relatively large mirror (0.5 m60.5 m) was placed about 0.4 m in front of the observer. The luminance of the reflected face image within the mirror was about 0.2 cd mÿ2 and this level allowed detailed perception of fine face traits but attenuated colour perception…The task of the observer was to gaze at his/her reflected face within the mirror. Usually, after less than a minute, the observer began to perceive the strange-face illusion…”  Giovanni B Caputo, Perception, 2010, volume 39, pages 1007 – 1008 2010

Here is an account of my experience:

I am standing in the bathroom having closed the door to let almost no light in. There is a tiny amount of background light. Enough so I can see the outline of my head. I gradually adjust this to account for my eyes adapting to the low light.

The act of standing in a dark room staring at my own indistinct outline was in itself, an unusual and disconcerting act. After a few moments, the general discomfort and weirdness start to feel more natural, relaxing even. Becoming aware of the sound of my own breathing, and other more distant sounds, I felt I was entering a peaceful zone. A welcoming mental space of quiet that I would have been pleased to achieve even if nothing came of this experiment.

I focussed hard on the middle of the dark outline of my head for roughly 20 minutes. Slowly in the darkness my eyes continued to adapt, visual acuity began to increase, contrast became more vivid.  I see what I can only describe as ‘fuzzy noise’ in the darkness. After a while, I was sure I could detect faint outlines of my features, perhaps the whites of my eyes or glints from my teeth.

I was ready to give up but then it started to happen; Enlarged eye-like forms became clearly visible, like glassy bulbs. My mouth swollen, then widened, after more time it became full of large teeth too big for my face, spreading across my face until seeming taking over my face. A dynamic, kinetic evolving morphology of forms manifested themselves cascading and oscillating between states.

The moment I realised I was experiencing powerful hallucinations. I felt an instant quickening of my pulse the hairs on my neck standing up. For some time I enjoyed standing in the darkness regarding my new plastic monstrous face. I was afraid to move in case the illusion should shatter. Indeed this was the case, testing the limits of the hallucination I slowly turned my head to the side incrementally until at about 20 degrees the hallucination was suddenly gone as if it never happened.

Of course, I had high expectations for this experiment, I had read about people seeing the faces of animals, dead family members and monsters etc. I wonder how and if the experiment would work as well without such expectations/preparation?