Christine Swintak

Thought Controlled Contexts: Brain Control Interface (BCI) Augmented Environments and the Experience of Everyday Architectures

Inspired by architectural theorist Juhani Pallasmaa’s assertion that primary sensory experiences  are integral to the enhancement of well being (Pallasmaa, 1996/2013, 97), my research frames the question how does the layer of networked and interactive digital information affect the phenomenology of physical space? My proposed project involves the repurposing of consumer- grade thought-controlled computing technologies, specifically non-invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCI), to moderate built architectural interventions and digital enhancements. I will initially be working with a Muse brain-sensing headset provided by InteraXon Corporation essentially “hacking” the headset by hiring a software developer to rewrite the program interface to interact with a series of microcontrollers. While the specific output devices will be further developed during residence, I am currently working on a BCI that is worn on a type of “ride,” that moves a person along a 40’ long motorized track, while the space responds to their mental states by regulating surrounding architectural elements and added interventions. For example the person may control the lights, amplify sounds, trigger holographic or narrative projections etc. My initial research for the project has been funded by a Hexagram Student Grant, and a prototype will be exhibited at LIVE International Performance Art Biennale in Vancouver in collaboration with VIVO Media Arts Centre. The intention of the project is to construct multi-sensory participatory environments that both critically and humourously imagine a future scenario where the collapse   of physical and digital space has rendered the internal external, and the unfamiliar familiar.