[...Disembodiment] is a technological experiment in the extraction of one's perception from one's own physical body. Using cameras mounted on VR glasses, I will transfer the user's immediate vision in real time from the webcam into the VR headset display. After the two users become accustomed to their new mediated vision, I will switch the two perceptions. Thus each participant will loose his or her own visual perception and it will be replaced with the perception of the other participant. Each user is invited to move about the space while visually only being allowed to perceive the first person perception perspective of the other user. The disembodied users preserve reality from each others perspective. In this way I hope to achieve a virtual mind transplant between the two participants.
We often leave our bodies in order to partake in an event of another space or time. Whether we are concentrating on a phone call or television program, easily we leave "here" to be "there." As a technologically hinged society, our ever-increasing dissattachment from our bodies can go almost unnoticed in our day-to-day life. The ease with which our mind can adapt to these situations has provided grounds for interesting experiments in disembodiment and telepresence for both engineers and artists.
A Philco engineer named Steve Moulton made a nice telepresence eye. He mounted a TV camera atop a building and wore a helmet so that when he moved his head, the camera on top of the building moved. And so did a viewing screen attached to the helmet. Wearing the helmet you have the feeling of being on top of the building and looking around Philadelphia . If you "lean over" its kind of creepy. But the most sensational thing Moulton did was to put a two to one ratio on the neck, so that when you turn your head 30 degrees, the mounted eye turns 60 degrees: you feel as if you had a rubber neck, as if you could turn your "head" completely around. -Omni
Even though the technology being implemented is basic, the mind readily accepts the suggestions of the viewing screen. In spite of the users' concrete knowledge of where he or she is, the perception that user is in fact, on top of the building and can in fact turn its head all the way around is readily accepted. Our nimble minds adjust to new perceptions so readily they override what we intuitively know to be true. I call it freedom.
With Tellebotic Tillie, Lynn Hershman places her audience inside the head of a female doll, Tillie. Viewers, both in the museum and online can control the rotation of Tillie's head and look out into the rest of the gallery through Tillie's eyes. Inside Tillie's head are mounted two cameras, replacing her eyes. The left eye transmits in real-time, color to a monitor in the gallery, the right eye transmits to the web in slowly refreshing black and white.
Reliance on tracking and surveillance systems has resulted in a peripheral vision that extends beyond normal human physiology. In many cases, there is a merging of human and machine capabilities yielding what some call cyborgs, beings whose virtual reach and in this case, sight, extend beyond physical location.
By looking at the world through the eyes of Tillie, the Telerobotic Doll or CybeRoberta, viewers not only become voyeurs, but they are effectively transformed into virtual "cyborgs". Hershman
Taking Hershman's and Moulton's ideas a step further, I have constructed a way to look through the eyes of another living person. The first person perspective utilized by Tillie, although via the monitor/object still produces a quite immersive experience. While Tillie is a mere tellerobotic puppet of the user, the effect of dismemberment in Hershams work is still quite powerful. Rather than a doll/puppet I have chosen to use the users own initial gaze, as the gaze for another user. Hereby I switch perceptions between two humans, effectively transplanting them inside of one another's heads. In order further extract the user from his/her physical body I have integrated VR headsets that block out the out side world. (Much like Maoulton did with his roof top camera.) My goal is to push disembodiment further than just extracting one's consciousness from his or her body but to then place that consciousness into a different physical body, to take ones own perception and present it to the consciousness of another.
The user systems:
For each of the two systems, the webcam is connected to the USB port of the laptop. The Virtual io glasses RGB input is wired to the external monitor RGB out of the laptop. Resolution must be set to 640x480. The laptop accesses my flash site via wireless web access and web browser. My flash site pulls webcam video input from the camera and sends it to the other page. At the same time it streams video from the other webcam being sent by the other page. The video plays full screen, totally emerging the viewer wearing the head set.
A projector attached to any computer with internet access, displays a webpage that monitors both users vision and who is seeing what. By pressing the spacebar the audience can switch the vision the each user perceives from self to other and vise versa.
"John, your project looks rad! When does it debut. I want to be the first! Also, I'd like to be drunk... really *expletive deleted* up the other person's head, hahahahahahahahah! "- Leslie Ann Henkel