How much does the location of our eyesight influence the location of our sense of self? Can we relocate our sense of self, our consciousness, out of our bodies simply by moving our sense of sight (in a fully immersive way) into an external device?
17 years ago I built the first prototype of this system using video goggles and a surveillance camera to see myself from a third person perspective. In this visually disembodied state I lived in a gallery space for a week without removing the goggles, learning to function normally while only being able to observe myself and my actions through the camera. The sensation is like watching a live sitcom starring yourself, or like starring in a video game, or like having a remote controlled human being puppet that'll do whatever you make it do. The relocation of the sense of self does happen, and it's mind altering!
In the past few months I've rebuilt the gear and redesigned the interaction so that it is a participatory activity instead of a spectator activity: I want other people to experience this in a strong, memorable, efficient and mind blowing way.
I've been fortunate enough to present and set up the activity at the Lost Horizon Night Market, a Black Rock Arts Foundation fundraiser, 2 local augmented reality conferences as well as opening my studio/lab to the public.
So far I've been focusing on the 'fun' aspect, designing very specific games that accentuate the out of body feeling by offering activities requiring so much visual concentration that the other sensory cortices go temporarily dormant, leaving the mind with a disembodied point of primary reference for the location of self. There is a lot of recurring interest in designing activities for educational environments, therapeutic practices, wellness applications, and collaboration oriented group games.
2 videos showing how much fun the games are, how it bonds people together, and another about the development and history. http://outerbody.org/video
Funded by San Francisco, CA (July 2012)