Masca is a flexible sleep mask for REM sleep detection using conformable piezoresistive fabrics, enabling cheap and comfortable eyelid motion detection. Based off of Robert Stickgold’s Nightcap design, enabling science! We use it to do electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) driving dream content for Hugh Herr’s class—making people dream of running by delivering EMS on-leg in REM. Made with Oscar, Tomás, Ethan and Irmandy from MIT.
Sleep is a forgotten country of the mind. We offer an interface for Hypnagogia, specifically dreams at sleep onset. We are able to influence, extract information from, and extend hypnagogic dreams for the first time: We found that control of hypnagogic dreams with the system can augment human creativity. Please...Read more HERE! Published HERE!
This has been a hugely collaborative project: Ishaan Grover, Pedro Reynolds-Cuellar, Tomás Vega, Aby Jain, Oscar Rosello...much gratitude!
I'm the Creative Lead for MIT Hacking Arts, a collective of engineers , entrepreneurs and techies who create projects and spaces for tech and art to intersect. What happens when a VR engineer and an architect get to create with a ballerina and light artist for 24 hours?
Proud to have built a hackathon, museum installations and partnerships alongside Georgiana Vancea with Autodesk, Adobe, Unity, the MFA, Formlabs, Boston Cyberarts, RISD, Le Lab and many more. Written up in TechCrunch and The Atlantic
I feel hugely lucky to have Prof. John Gabrieli as a mentor here at MIT. Gab Lab tackles questions at once large and small, probing experience and mechanism concurrently at Marr's many levels of analysis. This means we can ask questions about the slippery stuff. I'm part of an ongoing fMRI project with Dr. Clemens Bauer and Dr. Maiya Geddes on the science of self-awareness and it's ties to attention and apathy.
The Blank Canvas is a platform for VR science storytelling. Exponential potential for learning about microscopic worlds on an infinite, immersive virtual canvas. Our mission was to make science media as cool as the science behind it...see it here and learn more here!
Shown at the World Economic Forum, Cannes Film Festival 2017, Unite, SXSW, premiered at VR Sci Fest. Powered by Unity, Houdini and two other storyteller engineers Boo Aguilar and Peehalho Magalhaes. See press here!
For MIT Hacking Arts 2018 I got to assemble a dream team of friends from MIT to execute the artistic vision of Agnieszka Kurant overnight. See it all here! Read more about the team and work here! We built a series of robotic animals controlled by the internet. Shown at Nicolas Bourriad's La Panacée, SFMOMA's online collection, and at Harvard metaLAB's AI + Art Group. Living on in the ether evermore.
Continuing my work in communicating science, and in extolling all the beauty in the brain, I'm working with my friends Joao Rosa, Boo Aguilar and Ric Lebre to make the second Blank Canvas episode in VR, showing incredible brain bending biotech. Magic school bus style experiential synthetic neurobiology. Check out this preview Joao made, and my poly sketches.
I'm part of an ongoing project at MIT's Gabrieli Lab studying the brain mechanisms of mindfulness, meditation and mind-wandering. I run functional connectivity data acquisition and behavioral data analytics. Super cool because there are immediate, broad implications for education and wellness. Meditation is cheap, effective, easy to distribute, proven...and poorly understood.
Experience creation can function as experience investigation. I partnered with artists Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokina at the Museum of Modern Renaissance, two painters who work with dream visuals, to translate my lab work on dreams into an immersive art context for specifically inducing and producing sights in sleep.
Our bluetooth bellydancer ("Dance MF Dance") intimately ties the mechanic and organic, using a hacked TENS stimulator and an iOS app gathering accelerometer data. Kinesthetic Empathy linking audience members with active dance performers. You dance, I dance, guaranteed. No more dancing alone at parties. Mostly it's silly, and was so fun to build, because Tomás Vega and Aby Jain speak electricity fluently and we made it for a MIT Media Lab party.
An ongoing project combining VR, EEG and biofeedback technologies for detection of racially biased fear responses and nudges away from them. Won the MIT Future of People Hackathon 12.3.16, where I was grateful to be named a Luminary. Shown at Notre Dame Peace Conference, now housed in MIT's Center for Civic Media and Harvard Kennedy School's Future Society. Working with the wonderful Marie-Therese Png alongside Esam Goodarzy, Ryan Lee, Genevieve Hume (Harvard GSE, MIT IDM, MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences).
There is so little brain science done outside of the laboratory, it leaves us with little notion of the ecological validity, i.e. translatability of our research. Diarist is an app built with John Parsons, a beastly coder, for passive or active capture of EDA + Audio over long, longitudinal periods. A simple interface for biosignal, subjective state, and context capture rolled into one.
Building a system with Aby Jain to induce frisson, or aesthetic chills. I find this sensation fascinating: At once transcendent and physiological, where magic meets mechanism as the sublime cascades across skin. We're testing whether inducing chills can increase deep attention and openness to experiences. This trigger times delivery based on moments in a song users set before use.
Working with Abhinandan Jain and Felix Schoeller to turn ‘correlation is not causation’ on its head. Now that we have the technical ability to not only find physiological mechanisms tied to phenomenology, but to automatically activate those mechanisms, we can ask whether correlation can in fact lead us to effective causal interventions. So, will forcing frisson make YOU make meaning?
An attempt at iteratively altering hypnagogic dream content through suggestion. Suggest a dream, hear a report, suggest a further step, hear a report, and so on—then compare dream drawing post-hoc with drawings done by an awake listener. See they are similar! Feel like a mind-reader!
Ongoing work linking body-mind representations for anchoring in schizophrenic patients. A bluetooth wearable which converts audio into vibrations for patients to feel external voices and easily distinguish internal hallucinatory voices. Similar work shows results eliminating hallucinations, currently pending publication. Advice and collaboration from many friends: Ishaan Grover, Rébecca Kleinberger, Kana Okano, Clemens Bauer.
I led curation for the launch of the Algorithmic Justice League at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, fabricating hardware, writing and editing content, designing signage and layout, helping to build the beginning of Joy Buolamwini's amazing movement for diverse and inclusive technology coming from the MIT Media Lab's Center for Civic Media. How does pattern recognition create bias, in humans and machines? How can we fight it? Read more here
Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, and yet seeing is naming: light incident on retina cascades up visual hierarchy, coded into color, contour, recognized as (thing), turns imperceptibly implicitly into semantics, associations, (thinginess). Artists Rothko and Rorschach, abstract expressionists each, push to produce pure thinginess, essence teased free. Saying Seeing attempts this tease outside of 2D frame, uses misnaming in Augmented Reality to show thinginess and thing, inseparable upon introspection, as independent variables. Built with Ashris and Oscar and Christian!
Science and art intersect allowing new, material inquiries into our subconscious cognition. How can we think about things we know but do not know we know? Thinking about thinking without thinking about thinking...?
This project creates a space where people can encounter their subconscious through physical, digital, and environmental sleight of hand.
A performance piece in which neuroscience and art converge to transform the art experience. We skip the unpredictability of the aesthetics and instead induce the art experience directly with emotional induction techniques from brain science. We are, after all, quantified selves, measured and measuring. Affect and aura are not immune to mechanical reproduction.
Piece commissioned by the Boston MFA. Friends made it with me: Nicole, Ani, Xin, Gershon, Rebecca, Akito, Sands, and Rainar, from across myriad MIT laboratories.
I was invited to perform @MFA for Murakami's exhibition opening. The Hotmilks came together to build Internet Incarnate. As per Murakami's model, we surveilled millennial trends and optimized artwork accordingly: Give them what they want. A breathing 7ft cat, 2 robocats, beanie baby sacrifice, chimera construction, 2 cat goddesses and a soundtrack of Bernie Sanders populist meowing. Multiple questions of "is this the art?" spurred us onwards throughout the night. Rébecca, Akito, Sands, Xin, Gershon and Pip all came together to make it (un)real.
These are the laser-cut acrylic whiteboard masks I was responsible for at the launching of the AJL at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Joy Buolamwini leads the Algorithmic Justice League, focused on inclusionary tech and exposing biased datasets underlying powerfully influential algorithms today. Seth Berg helped make em with me! Read about the project in the New York Times here.
Working with Ilya Vidrin for a residency project at Jacob's Pillow, a team of us from Fluid Interfaces are building wearable technology to magnify, twist, sonify and share otherwise invisible micro movements between dancers. The pushes and pulls, weight shifting subtly with trust, is what this copper foot insert picks up on.
These designs are based off of Guillermo Bernal's beautiful past work. Oscar Rosello, Aby Jain and I are helping to rework them for experimental dance.
For Berlin's Transmediale Festivale, Oscar Rosello and I created this projection piece on vision neuroscience's Ganzfeld effect, known popularly through James Turrell. A darkness darker than dark. An emptiness filled by the brain. Individual light history, neutralized.
Invited by Harvard metaLAB. Shown at ACUD and Rainbow Unicorn Gallery. See show here. Many thanks to Sarah Newman and co for the opportunity.
Brain science has given us tools to see ourselves in ways previously impossible! This is an image of changing patterns in neuronal network connectivity as mindfulness increases. Looking at this image entails, in a real way, a completely new kind of human cognition: an objective take on our subjective self-reflection on experience, cognizing on metacognition. An expanded view of science means an expanded view of ourselves.
Caroline Hermans, Hisham Bedri, Gabe Fields and Wiley Corning built my favorite project from this year's MIT Hacking Arts. It's at once absurd and probing. VR prioritizes vision, and so does our body--to the point where proprioception is hackable, and you can make people hit their faces with grapes. Read more here. I have too much fun as the Creative Lead of Hacking Arts. This year we asked 'Why Human?', and it's really worth reading through projects here.
Giving presence to artificial intelligence. Lucky to have been involved in bringing this ambitious project to life and to be working now on new projects with this lovely team. Boo Aguilar and Adam Roth led dev for a Cognitive Computing VR experience for Hacking Arts 2016. Check out the video here!
This experience was picked 2nd for the Vision Summit Technical Achievement Award, as a runner up to Ghostbuster's The Void.
A connection between an open-source, 3D printed Brain Computer Interface and the amazing ArtMatr painting robot from Tal Achituv/Ben Tritt and Owen Trueblood. Here Owen and I are sending motor cortex signals from brain to printer. Turning that readout into printer movement means thinking paintings. Then why not paint our dreams? I got to speak about this art + neuroscience connection with Ben at Cannes Lions 2017, written up here/here :)
An ongoing project that began in my Human Machine Symbiosis class with Prof. Pattie Maes. Every night, each of us loses a whole stage of sleep worth of creative thought--the hypnogagic Stage 1 dreamstate. We're using EEG sleep spindle and K-complex detection and feedback to keep users suspended in hypnagogia while recording new insights. Read more and see a prototype here. Working with Ishaan Grover and Sophia Yang! Check out how artists have harnessed this state in the past.
I had the honor of helping structure the 1st Harvard Food Law Student Leadership Summit, "among the Summit's chief architects and advocates since its earliest days, bringing it from idea to reality" (Professor Broad-Lieb). This one Summit had 50-law schools, opening Harvard Law wide and bringing new young voices into the national conversation on food justice. I managed design for the summit--graphic, content, environmental--including this logo done in tandem with the wonderful Meaghan Lueck. Design has much to contribute to movement-making.
I'm lucky to organize the Consciousness Hacking community here in Cambridge. We gather together as a community of makers building and exploring new science/tech in service of human flourishing. Our latest event, at Harvard Divinity School, brought together brain scientists with religious thinkers from around Boston to discuss meditation. Crimson article here and HDS article here, little tv segment here.
An exhibit for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, an exploration of the uncanny. A cat café populated by robotic cats and waitresses from the future. A menu full of options like switches, pacer motors and programmable voice boxes. Make your own monster. See here.
A splitter plays braille alphabet simultaneously via in-ear-audio and vibration attached to the stomach. Passive haptic learning and multimodal input. What can we teach our body? What are the memory and chunking limits of passive learning experiences? Tools for cognitive exploration, and experimental learning paradigms.
How does bodily communication connect us when words cannot? Gershon Dublon and I built two benches that translate audible frequencies into inaudible ones, delivered through powerful pistons along bench braces. Nicole L'Huillier, Rebecca Kleinberger, Ani Liu, Xin Liu and Juan Necochea all helped! At the Boston MFA, we took over Gallery 175 for 6 hours of vibration compositions--infrasound crying, telling inaudible secrets, connected heartbeats and more, for an entirely embodied experience. Why? Read more here.
I combined science of meditation and memory to assess the claim that meditation "expands your consciousness." Measuring pre-post on the often overlooked 'Iconic Memory', storing contents of consciousness, which grew as a result of 10-day meditation as compared to a language training control group ( t(26)= 3.389, p=.002.). Science of the Self, objective and subjective at once. Contact for details.
I was hired by IPG to select and program a bot for a public futuristic breakfast-making experience. I'm here with the Rethink Robotics Baxter bot programming a proxy for cereal stirring. What makes a machine comfortable to interact with? What public art experiences can we create with humanoid machines?
MAI has asked me to lead the partnership between the performance art institute and Google's Cultural Institute.
Performance art inspires presence and empathy in person, how can we bring that online? Digital empathy, technology for presence, new media possibilities rooted in art.
Teamed up with old friends--the amazing performance artist Tathy Yazigi and designer Elisa Gijsen--for a performative, interactive SXSW workshop on neuroscientific and artistic approaches to augmenting creativity. I focused on embodied cognition, transient hypofrontality and self-regulation. Tathy and Elisa brought it to bear on their practices and led amazing physical creativity exercises.
Part of the Augmented Salad Augmented Reality project with Ashris Choudhury, Christian Vasquez and Oscar Rosello. A tongue-in-cheek approach to a semantic-in-salad experience. No window dressing.
I'm an Officer of VR@MIT, an organization that has done some wild things already in its 1 year of existence--like created a VR Makerspace at MIT's Martin Trust, run the first VR Course at MIT, and led the largest VR Hackathon (Reality, Virtually) ever put on...
The champions of this group are Jacob Loewenstein, Eswar Anand, Judith Amores and Natalie Pitcher
I'm lucky enough to work on acquisition and analytics of fMRI and DTI at MIT's Martinos Center for BioMedical Imaging on questions as distinct as dyslexia and mindfulness. Experimental Design is a UI/UX problem tweaking subject experience for the extraction of certain sorts of truth. Especially important for trying to quantify the qualitative, the science of the self. Check out this study, the 1st I got to work on in my lab, chasing down sense of self in the brain!
A linguistics-inspired interface for extracting the most representative phrases from iconic political speeches and mixing them together. Tech reveals commonalities between heroes and devils we might otherwise ignore. Language without syntax is off-putting, and empathy is easier achieved when we are off-balance together. A tool for collective understanding.
Along with Caty Rezendes I organize the 250 person Cambridge chapter of Consciousness Hacking, a 10,000 member global group started by Mikey Siegel out of the MIT Media Lab focused on building and hacking persuasive wellness technology. See here.
Alongside Art Basel, and sharing the stage with amazing people like Mayor Levine and Google X's Jack Hidary, I was invited to speak about unseen connections in neuroscience--specifically between brains, cities and art.
The Gallant Lab's Semantic Map, showing whole-brain co-activation of words, is a neural thesaurus that I see as a first-ever map of George Lakoff's Metaphors We Live By. Jack Gallant was kind enough to share his data matrixes, and I'm experimenting with VR/AR experiences writing poetry based on this map of subjective-objective perceptual language. Writing words with knowledge of the other words they activate! An objective subjective. A biological thesaurus.
I was lucky enough to encounter Keepon and My Keepon through neuroscience research into childhood development. These bots are designed for non-linguistic empathetic connection, often with kids who have language difficulties, like autistic children.
I brought this bot, amongst empathic tech I had constructed, to a curated conversation about different ways people can connect with one another, presented at the Boston MFA. Bodies are often especially honest communicators. Tech can show us this.
I got to participate in the curation process and speak alongside Marina Abramovic, the 'grandmother of performance art', at her amazing art/science interactive Terra Comunal in Lino Bo Bardi's SESC Pompeia, São Paolo.
We spoke about how neuroscience and performance art intersect in their understanding of presence. The 400,000 person huge, free, open exhibit initiated one of the more diverse conversations I've had the pleasure of participating in. See Terra Comunal for more.
Working on building up the process for scanning scientists into virtual environments so we can scale up our Virtual Reality science education program. Hoping to excite, educate, inspire, allow more playful storytelling by scientists and more engaged learning experiences for viewers.
A lecture I was invited to give to the arts and tech community in São Paolo. Wonderful city, wonderful people at Flagcx and IBM. See here!
Invited to Brazil to participate alongside Marina Abramovic in an 'Inspiration at the Intersection' focused workshop. Where STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art, mathematics) can meet and make each discipline more than it was before. Where these vocabularies diverge, and work needs to be done to reunite ways of seeing our world.
My interest in applied neuroscience led me to applied behavioral economics at city-scale. I joined Providence, RI, as the capital city's City Fellow, to understand the inner workings of municipalities. I focused on Smart Cities--possibilities for inclusive, data-driven policy making.
My time there has been hugely educational. See Providence Talks, PlayCorps, OpenPVD, and What Works Cities for examples of ongoing work. See the Providence Innovation and Design District to understand my excitement.
Tired of Hackathons being distanced from the body, distanced from play, I created the Hackython. Half Hackysack, half Hackathon. An exercise in extended educational silliness. Drone workshops and dancing with robots alongside Religious Studies professors discussing the ethics of circular discussions and hackysack circles. Just love.
I initiated and led a collaboration between MIT and the Boston MFA from September-December 2016 on bringing science inspired art and tech projects to the MFA's first ever overnights.
7,000 visitors each night encountered Markov chains doing similarity comparisons between opposed politicians, robotic cats, racially biased algorithms, and much more.