O.B.E. VR Installation about the nature of consciousness for Oculus Rift, 10 min, 2021

Dancers: Roberta Pupotto, Melli Müller
Music: Jean Delouvroy
Voice: Luke Swenson
Programming: Anke Schiemann, Leonid Barscht

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O.B.E. stands for out of body experience. Between eight and fifteen per cent of the population report having experienced an OBE once in their lifetime. For thousands of years humans see in such experiences proof for different mystical theories of the soul. Many religious traditions hold that there is an immaterial version of the self, capable of travelling through space. In my project I want to use the qualities of immersive virtual reality to manipulate the body model and to convince the participant that their body in VR is their own.

Could consciousness exist immaterially outside the body? Virtual reality and real-time motion capture as new technologies for virtual embodiment challenge our understanding of what and who we are. With this project I would like to create a vivid detailed hallucinogenic world, which explores exactly this question.

People and characters that appear in the VR world are recorded volumetrically 2.5D with a Kinect camera and displayed as particle clouds like a loosely connected structure, similar to our reality model, which can also disintegrate at any moment. The visitor's movements, which are recorded with the Kinect and projected live into the VR world, are also displayed as a point cloud. Only through the live reflection of the movement can our body model be manipulated and an out-of-body feeling constructed. In order to strengthen self-identification with the virtual body image (avatar), the participant's heartbeat is recorded using a sensor. At the beginning of the performance, the participant is put on a waist belt with a Polar H10 Bluetooth heartbeat sensor, which in turn is connected to a Raspberry Pi Zero. The data is transferred to the avatar in real time via Bluetooth. The virtual body image is thus controlled by cardio-virtual stimuli and pulsates synchronously with the heartbeat of the participant.

AI is the new and old Buzzword. Der Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts, that artificial intelligence will pass a Turing test and therefore reach the level of human intelligence by the year of 2029. But what about the consciousness? Is consciousness even possible in artificial intelligence? What actually means consciousness?

Consciousness is the appearance of the world. The ability to shift the first-person perspective actively inwards, exploring our emotional state and to steer our attentions towards thinking processes. The human consciousness differs from other biologically evolved phenomena fundamentally, that it makes a reality to appear in itself. „The conscious brain is a biological machine, a reality generator, that tells us what exists and what not. “ (Metzinger, Der Egotunnel)

The fundamental idea of modern consciousness research says, that the contents of our consciousness are the contents of a simulated reality in our brain and that even the feeling of our existence is part of this simulation.

The pale lilac colour of the sinking sun is not a quality of the evening sky but a quality of the inner model of the evening sky, which is generated by our brain. The evening sky is colourless. “Out there in front of your eyes exists nothing but an ocean of electromagnetic field, a wild billowy mixture of different wavelengths. Most of them are invisible for you. And can never become part of your conscious reality model.“

Is therefore reality as we experience it every day just a mental stage set, a representation of the world itself? Are we living in a virtual reality already?