YOUNIVERSE PROJECT: Weight of Words | MindKick

Free entrance. Please register for your personal turn - ideally together with your game partner - at e-mail address.
BRAIN TO BRAIN PERFORMANCE / in Hungarian an English

artist talk 4 September 18:00
Free entrance. Please register for your personal turn - ideally together with your game partner - at e-mail address. Turns start in every 15 min.
YOUNIVERSE creates interactive art installations, experiments and performances setting out to explore alternative, unusual and futuristic communication methods between people. By use of brain-to-computer interfaces and virtual reality devices, in their works two participants are connected in a new kind of social situation which is digital by nature. From this standpoint, new light is cast on the ideas of mutual respect, trust, honesty and cooperation. Although their interactive installations look futuristic, still is such a fun and easy to play with them.
Two people are focused on completing a task. One person is wearing an Oculus Rift, a Head-Mounted Virtual Reality (VR) device, while the other is using an EMOTIV Epoc (EEG) brain sensor. In utilizing high-end gaming equipment and hacking them a little bit the goal is to create a digital environment where basic social emotions such as sympathy, trust and reliability are shown in a new context. They don’t know it, but the task cannot be completed without the two people cooperating and trusting each other. Traditional ways of communication are cut off, they need to find their own way around it, or make up their new communication system.
The task is relatively simple: there is a giant virtual rock floating right above the VR user’s head which is mirroring the moment-to-moment mental state of the EEG user. Between the two users communication is limited. The VR user, in order to avoid getting smashed by the rock, needs to somehow influence the EEG user. If the EEG user is put into a good, relaxed or joyful mood the rock evaporates into a shiny soap bubble. On the other hand, if the EEG user gets frustrated or seriously angry the rock comes down on the VR user and ends the game. So the task is to save the person wearing the VR from getting smashed by a huge virtual rock.
Communication is intentionally twisted: through a microphone, the EEG user will hear whatever sound the VR user makes. The EEG user cannot ask or answer any question, his only task is to sit comfortably, eyes-closed with the brain sensor on, and listen closely on what he or she says. The only sense of feedback coming from the EEG user is the background ambient noise that changes according to the most dominant state of mind such as frustration or engagement. The brain sensor will also pick up a variety of facial expressions like smile, frown, raised eyebrows, etc.
Can the person with the EEG sensor control her brain consciously to save the other person from the virtual levitating mass? Can the VR user successfully control the other person’s mind with her voice? Can they trust each other in this digital realm? We will see it…
The project was funded by the Kitchen Budapest Talent Program and was the part of Imagining Vision interactive exhibition at Capa Center in 2014 autumn.
Take the idea of the popular table-top game found in pubs, bars and workplaces all across Europe - table football -, and place it right into a sci-fi movie: players control the game with merely the movement of their brains, i.e. their thoughts. In project MindKick, Youniverse just do exactly that. We envision the high tech version of the classic game. And we do have a working prototype.
The movement of the ball is determined by the real-time output of 14 CPU fans placed around the ‘arena’. Each player gets to control 3 pairs of fans. The point of the the game of course is to score. Players can achieve it by turning on the appropriate fans on each side of the ‘arena’ at the right time, thus maneuvering the ball into the opponent’s goal. To do all this, players only need to perform mental actions. Both participants are wearing high-end brainwave sensors that are interconnected through a central unit which receives and processes realtime brainwave pattern information from both sensors and controls the output of the fans accordingly. An additional laptop is used for configuring the sensors and to display score and play sound effects. Before the game begins, players must undergo a roughly 3 minute calibration period with the sensors.
Members of the team:  Sándor MAKRA, Csongor DOMBOVÁRI, Kata KEREKES

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