Open source VR web app
- Gabriel Lecup - Concept & Development
- Xavi Vinaixa - Development
- Sergi Lario - Development
- Aylen Torres & Magalie Denoue - Photography
- Miguel Angel De Heras - Technical Consulting
Produced with the collaboration of Hangar - Laboratorio de Interacción
REAL VIRTUALITY is a VR application to be seen with eyes closed and perceived with the subconscious. It combines two techniques of brainwave synchronization - flickering lights and binaural beats - to induce altered states of consciousness, lucid dreams, out-of-body experiences, transes and hallucinations, triggered by sensorial stimuli.
Both techniques exploit the phenomenon of Frequency-Following Response (FFR) to force brain activity to synchronize with waves Delta (0.5-3Hz), Theta (8-13Hz), Alpha (4-7Hz) and Beta (12-30Hz).
REAL VIRTUALITY provides an open and evolutive tool to explore these techniques and their combination through the technologies of Virtual Reality. Users can experience, create and share custom content with just a cardboard VR headset and headphones. The quality of the graphics isn’t relevant: the user keeps his/her eyes closed.
The use of stroboscopic lights to induce states of transe is referenced by Ptolemy as early as the 2nd century. It has been observed in a wide variety of traditional and primitive cultures as a tool for ritualistic divination, healing or communication with « other worlds ». As an example, Berber shamans from the Sahara are known to stare at the sun through closed eyes while shaking their open hands at the right speed in divinatory rituals. As a reference, it relates to the common fascinating effect of a fire flame.
The psychologic and physiologic effects of flickering lights have been studied clinically in the 20th century by psychologist Pierre Janet, and neurologist Grey Walter, amongst others. In the 60s, William Burroughs, Brion Gyson and Ian Summerville build the « Dreamachine », which reveals the phenomenon to popular culture, inspiring na great deal of publications and documentaries.
Most recently, a number of devices based on the technique and usually composed of led lights integrated with eyewear controlled by a central electronic module are commercialized as « Mind Machines ». These devices range in complexity, use cases and pricing, reaching up to several thousand dollars.
Binaural Beats are an auditory illusion discovered in 1939 by physicist H.W. Dove. They function by triggering pure stereophonic sine tones (one in each ear through headphones) with slightly differing frequencies. The brain creates a third beating tone equivalent to the difference of frequencies, effectively heard by the user.
In the 60s, the Monroe Institute develops the system Hemi-Sync based on binaural beats, as a short-cut to transcendental meditation, fast-learning and auto-suggestion. Since, they have appeared in a large range of commercial, artistic, spiritual or entertainment projects. In the 2000s, companies like I-Doser promote products using the technique as the new Digital Drug.
- - Provide a functional, tangible and participative tool to stimulate critical reflection around the social, psychological, physiological, political, symbolic and artistic implications of Virtual Reality.
- - Offer an alternative approach to the current VR phenomenon, at the turning point of its development and democratization.
- - Question the definition of interface and reverse its conceptual paradigm as the meeting point of two independent systems. REAL VIRTUALITY becomes an interface between the user and his/her own subconscious, replacing VR’s immersive media with a 360° introspective view of one-self, and canceling the subject/object dichotomy.
- - Provide a complete, intuitive and accessible solution to research transe inducing techniques through Virtual Reality.
- - Foster open-source culture and technologies in the VR community.
- - Revert the two main downsides of Virtual Reality - sensorial isolation and motion sickness - to include them as a desired effect.
- - Refuse traditional mass-media by closing the eyes and NOT looking.
« But, I nearly forgot, you must close your eyes otherwise you won't see anything » (Lewis Carol)