My Virtual Dream will be a stunning audio-visual dreamscape, made up of animation sequences shaped by the brainwaves of participants and projected inside of a 60-foot dome.
Three multi-media artists, Jessica Palmer, Brandon Dalmer and Kyle Johnston have combined drawings, paintings, time-lapse photography and digital effects,to create more than an hour and a half of animation content.
But the trio’s animated content doesn’t play beginning to end like a movie. Programming written by Kyle links Jessica and Brandon’s animation sequences to the brain waves of “dreamers” wearing special brain-computer interface headsets. The result: a dome full of incredible imagery animated to reflect participants’ brain activity. (Sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure novel).
Jessica Palmer is one of the artists behind these interactive visuals. She spoke to us
about the process behind creating visual animations for My Virtual Dream.
The visuals you designed include everything from cityscapes to hypnotic human movements. What did you use as inspiration for these sequences?
My inspiration for the content comes from my own dreams, and things I see every day or am interested in. I read and study a lot of different subjects, including art history and civilization.
How are the animations you designed affected by the brainwaves of the dreamers wearing Brain-Computer Interface headsets?
The dreamers affect the animations in limitless ways–the clips and effects selected, the order, speed, direction, distortions, etc., are all controlled by their brain activity. In one sequence, the overall temperament of the group changes the outcome of a narrative scenario: does a lady accept or reject a potential suitor? Does he gift her with a poem or a floral wreath?
You created five different animation “libraries,” each made up of visuals themed around one of the five frequencies of brain waves. What did you learn about these frequencies?
Each type of brain wave is related to a different aspect of brain function, but there is also a lot of overlap. (For example, alpha waves are related to deep relaxation, while theta waves are linked to light sleeping).
Conversations I had with the scientists involved in the project helped me to develop the imagery for each library and give them a similar sort of relationship. I don’t want to over-explain this aspect as its part of what makes the installation so exciting–finding those connections yourself or feeling them subliminally. What I can say is that the mood, pace and articulation of the animations in each library is very much related to the complexity and temperament of the different frequencies.
I can’t believe how much my concept of how brains work has changed over and over again throughout this project as I learn more from everyone involved.
Which library are you most excited to see projected on the dome?
I’m excited about all of the libraries, but I’m the most excited for Library Five. It’s articulated the most like a video game, except there are no obvious indications of rules or objective. I am curious to see how it plays out, as I am sure the results will be outside my expectations.
The animations I make change in many ways once they leave my hands and become linked to someone’s brain waves. Right now I am desensitized to how my work looks, but once it’s on the dome, I hope I can see it anew.