Technology with attitude

Universal Mediaman: projects at the intersection of art, mind, and science

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Universal Media Man Projects

Universal Mediaman, maker of the award-winning NeuroSky application Dagaz, has added three new neurofeedback projects to his portfolio: Heartlive, Grapheme, and Biodome – all centered on the concept of generating visible manifestations of internal states using neural biofeedback.Based in the Netherlands, Universal Mediaman (aka Beer van Geer or simply UMM) is a one-man business that collaborates with professionals from various fields. Using a variety of elements such as audiovisual media and neurofeedback technology, the Dutch artist develops systems with the idea of exploring and explaining the human world.

The conceptual foundation for his latest neurofeedback projects is Dagaz, a NeuroSky BCI app from 2010 that turns meditation into an “intuitive gaming experience.” Dagaz interprets the user’s brain signals, and transforms them into beautiful symmetrical shapes known as ‘Mandalas’.

This type of meditative experience can be used to have fun, to train meditation skills, or to informally treat a plethora of conditions ranging from ADHD, to sleep disorders, depression, and chronic pain. We are still hoping for a promised future release of Dagaz that includes multiplayer mode, which would allow users from all over the world to combine their mental states and create Mandalas together.

As for the latest projects of UMM, Heartlive is an application developed specifically for those with stress and sleep related problems. It allows users to informally treat these conditions using a USB heart-rate monitor which generates a visual representation of “coherence” – a measure of how variable the user’s heart rate is over a period of time. The more relaxed the user, the more “coherent” their heart rate.

Grapheme, an extension of Dagaz and a part of the Heartlive project, focuses on training users to transition between mental states. This app is available for PC and Mac in the NeuroSky store ($10). Much like Dagaz, Grapheme creates visual representations of mental states. However, the Grapheme representations are based on organic systems such as underwater sea creatures, and stellar formations such as nebulas and pulsars. The application capitalizes on the NeuroSky feedback mechanisms in order to allow users to experiment with animation dynamics and colourized atmospheres. Parameters include the gravitational pull affecting the object, the speed of the particles making up the object, and the overall graphic interface.

The most recent of the new projects, Biodome, was created in collaboration with two other artists, Jarno Burger and Dennis de Bruijn. This structure is a dome 5m x 5m, with a projection system that illuminates the entirety of the internal surface. The user’s biofeedback (heart rate) generates images and music that reflect their internal state.

According to UMM, “The Biodome not only provides an innovative way of interaction, but drills out a totally new perception area where the inner world of man is visible.”