Metaphysical Immersion

Transcendenz is the outcome of my thesis project at Strate College. I started from a single, inspirational word: Invisible. After analysing what was invisible to our eyes and our minds, I realized there was something tending to disappear in our fast-paced, information-saturated societies...

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In a world in which we are constantly bombarded with injunctions to react or to distract ourselves it gets scarcely possible in our everyday life to dwell upon the essential, the existential, the metaphysical…

Transcendenz offers to connect our everyday life to an invisible reality, the one of ideas, concepts and philosophical questionings which the world is full of but that our eyes cant' see. By bringing together the concepts of augmented/altered reality, Brain Computer Interface (BCI) and social networks, Transcendenz offers to live immersive philosophical experiences.

Through meditation, users access the world of Interconsciousness, a white and silent universe in which they can connect themselves to the metaphysical experiences. These experiences transform our perception of the world and reveal an invisible philosophy.

By making us aware of things like they are and not like they seem, the concept invites us to transcend our world.

Transcendenz also enables us to access the knowledge of history's great philosophers, who, since antiquity, try to answer the question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

The Project

  • The Thought

    By observing our modern societies, a certain paradox caught my interest. This paradox concerns the way we behave in time.
    On one hand we are constantly trying to be efficient, organized and quick. As time is money, no time should be lost unnecessarily. We try to save every single minute and be as productive as possible, which makes us busy people.
    On the other hand, in our free time, we suddenly have so much time for ourselves that we don't know what to do with it anymore. Not knowing where to invest our time, most of us will consume it throughout technological mediums. Social networks, TV or videogames are some perfect examples. These information technologies put us in a time of connection, interaction and distraction, hence separating us from the empty time.

  • The consumer keeps filling up his time with distractions. He is timesinking.
  • The empty time is the most essential time. It is the time in which we are fully conscious about ourselves and our environment. It is the time in which we are sensitive to fundamental questionings and think about the existential; thoughts which bring us back to our human nature, the only animal able to think beyond what he sees with his eyes and able to imagine the invisible.

  • Empty time opens the door to existential questionings.
  • Today, information technologies make everything accessible and visible. We are constantly seeing information. We are used to the idea of things being always available and we don't make the effort anymore to think about the non-available. We have become information-addicts, eating only what is given to us. However, it is by thinking on what is not there, that our minds evolve. It is by transcending what we see, that we are able to innovate, to imagine the nonexistent.

  • The consumer is becoming more and more "infobese".

  • All these layers of information are hiding the fundamentals, invisible to the eye.

  • Could a new type of information technology, making us aware of fundamental questionings, be possible?

  • Thesis (French, 124p)

  • The Idea

    If we consider modern information technologies as what we see, and metaphysics as what we do not see, then Transcendenz is the ladder which connects these two worlds.

  • The ladder metaphor, in which Transcendenz links our modern information technologies to the invisible reality of metaphysics.
  • Transcendenz is a system integrated into an object, a pair of glasses. But it's not the glasses which matter, it's what's happening when you're wearing them.
    While using Transcendenz, the perception of the world around us is transformed. This transformation aims to reveal an invisible philosophy, hidden behind the everyday world.

  • Transcendenz changes the reality around us in a way that makes us think differently.
  • The metaphysical is everywhere, it just doesn’t show up in the same way than the physical, which we can touch or see. It is our reflection, our thought which makes philosophical ideas visible in our minds. Transcendenz proposes to transform these metaphysical thoughts into immersive experiences.

    In our everyday life, we are constantly projecting a meaning on the objects around us. If these objects change, they suddenly deliver another meaning. The confrontation between the known meaning and the unseen meaning surprises us and invites us to see things differently.

    Transcendenz offers experiences covering the contemplative themes of mankind like vanity, ethics, infinity, empathy, etc.

  • By meditating, the user accesses the "OS" of the system; a place called Interconsciousness, in which he navigates between the experiences and the other users.
  • While living an experience, we can share or discover the thoughts of the other users living the same experience. We can also consult the thoughts of history’s great philosophers if we wish to learn more about the experience's topic. We can even create our own experiences and share our way of seeing things with the other Transcenders.

  • Users can share their thoughts and contribute to the building of a philosophical network

  • The Interface

    Transcendenz’s interface is composed of three main icons.

  • I. The Avatar Icon

    After each lived experience your avatar icon gains an angle. It reflects your user level.

  • II. The Interconsciousness Icon

    This icon represents your level of meditation in real time.
    Meditation plays a key role in Transcendenz as it enables you to access the Interconsciousness, the place in which you select the different experiences.

  • View inside the Interconsciousness

  • Map of the Interconsciousness
  • The different experiences are represented as prisms, on which the users are connecting themselves. While traveling inside the Interconsciousness you can communicate with other users and share your impressions.

    To access the Interconsciousness you need to be at least in the alpha state (α) of meditation, a state you can easily access as soon as you stop your daily activities. As certain experiences can be quite strong, it is important to make this initial void inside yourself before transcending.

    Each state of meditation corresponds to a layer of the Interconsciousness. The deeper you meditate, the deeper you can travel into the place. The inner layers of the Interconsciousness are sheltering the highly transcendental experiences.

    III. The Experience Icon

    This icon displays your progression inside an experience. Some experiences are linked to specific emotions. The experience will evolve in function of the level of emotion you emanate.

  • While living an experience you can share or discover the thoughts of the other users who are living the same experience. You can also consult the thoughts of history’s great philosophers if you want to learn more on what you see.

  • Sharing thoughts with the other Transcenders.
  • Asking for the great philospher's words enriches the understanding of certain visions.

  • Concerned Technologies
    Augmented Reality

    AR glasses are currently being studied and developed by several companies. Google has been the most communicative on their project and plan to release a first version of their product by next year

  • BCI (Brain Computer Interface)

    Emotiv released the first public emotion-reading device in 2009. Although it is not perfect yet, it is a first step into this type of application. More refinements would be necessary to detect a wider range of emotions and specific nuances within each state. By reading the brain wave patterns of the user, the device is able to interpret the following data:

    Meditation Levels:

  • It does already read simple brainwaves pretty well, which can inform about the user’s meditative state. The lower your brainwaves frequencies are, the higher is your meditation level.
  • Conscious Actions:

  • Allows the user to move inside 3D environments and control virtual objects.
  • Emotions:

  • Although inaccurate yet, the next step would be to detect certain types of emotions such as fear, joy or excitation.

  • Thought Reader

    This prospective technology is advancing at a fascinating pace. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have developed a computer model able to reconstruct the sounds of words patients are thinking of:

    By studying patterns of blood flow related to particular images, Jack Gallant's group at the University of California Berkeley showed in September that patterns can be used to guess images being thought of - recreating "movies in the mind". - Jason Palmer, BBC

    Although some years ahead, I would not be surprised to see simplified versions of this technology appearing in the near future within our everyday objects.