In April of 2018, David Thrussell, along with several other artists, was invited by neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitachi of Tokyo University to take part in a groundbreaking experiment. A thought-decoding research program they had developed, dubbed "deep image reconstruction", used a reconstruction algorithm capable of “decoding” a “hierarchy” of complex visual information from human brain activity, such as colors and shapes. The team’s algorithm optimized the pixels of the Thrussell's thought patterns whilst he was asleep, in combination with a multiple-layered deep neural network (DNN), that simulates the same processes that occurs when a human brain perceives an image, so that the final image output comes close to resembling Thrussell's actual dreams.
Thrussell began by consuming 2 tbs of organic Apple Cider Vinegar which aids in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical that carries messages between brain cells. Most dreams occur during rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, when acetylcholine levels are high, as they also are during alert wakefulness.
The team used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology to gather brain activity data from Thrussell as he entered the various stages of sleep. This raw data was then filtered through a deep neural network so that the decoding process would occur in a way that more closely matched what happens in the human brain when it perceives something.
“We believe that a deep neural network is good proxy for the brain’s hierarchical processing,” said Kamitachi. “By using a DNN we can extract information from different levels of the brain’s visual system.”
This filtered data then acts as a template of sorts. The team then used a “decoder” — which is trained on fMRI data taken while Thrussell was dreaming — to repeatedly refine the decoded information further in hundreds of calculated passes, so that the video will come closer to the original, pixel by pixel.
To create more realistic-looking images, the results were further enhanced with a deep generator network (DGN), an algorithm that better captures common dominant features (such as eyes, faces and textural patterns), which will then offer visual clues to what that particular object might be.
Using systems of attenuated encephologram feedback, the team also had great success with its objectives of mood enhancement and recalibration - at times being able 'play' the test subject's emotional state much like the 'Penfield Mood Organ' of notable speculative-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
Thrussell recalled that during the NREM stage of his sleep his experiences of hypnagogic hallucinations included those of a "light tunnel" and "falling through colour". The REM stage was described as "colourless geometry... no doubt I was thinking about the research lab and my immediate surroundings". Thrussell described his sleep overall as "mostly peaceful" with dreams of "swimming in a colourful place with my family" but that he had later felt "slightly uneasy... a mild sense of omnipresent dread and captivity."
Raw video footage courtesy of Tokyo University, edited by Richard Grant.
Additional video footage courtesy of Kaplan Institute of Technology.
Audio: Black Lung, "The Crown Family Theme"
From the album "The Great Manipulator" Metropolis Records 2019.
Cast: Richard Grant
A film by Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
94 min., 2010
“We have to decide for ourselves what we want. We are the ones who know about our needs and what is happening in our community”, Omayra Peréz explains confidently. She wants to convince her community, located on the hillside of the poor districts of Caracas, to found a Consejo Comunal (community council). In more than 30.000 Consejos Comunales the Venezuelan inhabitants decide on their concerns collectively via assemblies. Omayra is supported by the activists of the nearby shantytown “Emiliano Hernández”, which has had a Consejo Comunal for three years already. The inhabitants there managed to get a doctor from the governmental program “Barrio Adentro”, who treats everyone free of charge. They also got money to renovate their houses and replaced over a dozen of corrugated-iron huts by new houses. All of these activities and a lot more have been organized via the Consejo Comunal. By local self-organization several working groups have been established on self-selected topics and decisions are made in assemblies.
Several Consejos Comunales can form a Comuna and finally a communal town. The film “Comuna Under Construction” follows these developments throughout the hillside of the shantytowns of Caracas and the vast and wet plains of Barinas in the countryside. The councils are built from below and alongside the existing institutions and are supposed to overcome the existing state through self-government. In a constituent assembly for the construction of the communal town “Antonio José de Sucre” Ramon Virigay from the independent peasant’s organization Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ) reminds the delegates of the participating Consejos Comunales: “Even if we definitely need the government agencies at the moment, we have to be independent tomorrow due to our development. We cannot depend solely on the state forever.” For this reason the councils are to establish own structures of production and distribution in order to achieve autonomy.
The assemblies are a central element of the film “Comuna Under Construction”. The film starts off in the well organized Consejo Comunal Emiliano Hernández located in one of the shantytowns of Caracas. It then shows the intentions of forming Comunas and a communal town in rural Barinas and ends in Petare, a gigantic shantytown of the agglomeration of Caracas where there are 29 Consejos Comunales intending to build the Comuna of Maca.
Is it even possible to bring together state and autonomy at all? Every one of the Consejos Comunales spokes-persons has positive as well as negative experiences with the institutions in store to talk about. In an assembly in Petare the grass-roots activist Yusmeli Patiño blames a high government representative: “We are losing our credibility because of the incompetence of the state institutions”. But there are also members of the institutions who make a big effort to accompany the basis in making its own decisions. Relations between the grass roots and the institutions are marked by cooperation as well as conflict. But the Consejos Comunales also have internal difficulties; participation has to be learned.
Both progress and setback mark the difficult process of people actually taking the power of deciding on their own lives and environment by themselves.
Original Spanish version with German and English subtitles available.
Concept, film editing, production: Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
Camera: Volkmar Geiblinger, Oliver Ressler
Sound, sound editing, supervisory editor: Rudi Gottsberger
Production assistant: Adriana Rivas
Image editing: Markus Koessl, David Grohe
Grants: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur; Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien; Stiftung Umverteilen; Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung; Solifond der Hans Böckler Stiftung; Fraktion die Linke im EU-Parlament; Bundestagsfraktion die Linke; Netzwerk e.V.
Cast: Oliver Ressler
Tags: community council, Consejos Comunales, Caracas, Venezuela, shantytown, Barrio Adentro, self-organization, Comuna, communal town, Barinas, assemblies, Petare, spokes-person, grass-roots activism and participation
In the video, Adrian, my Angel, is the man wearing the blue shirt.
In June 2012, I was an international student studying for my Bachelor of Accounting degree when I was the victim of a vicious, unprovoked, racial attack by three members of a Neo Nazi group in Melbourne.
On my way home from work one night, I was savagely kicked, punched and stabbed before being bashed with a brick with such force that the brick broke in two and I was left to die in the gutter. I was the victim of the worst that Australian society has to offer.
I was in a critical condition when I was found lying in a pool of blood and taken to hospital. Adrian heard of my attack on the news and felt he needed to do something to help. As a musician and a music teacher he has a great belief in the power of music to help in the healing process and he contacted me to offer free music lessons in an effort to bring some hope and positive healing through music.
Slowly beginning to recover, I accepted that offer but found it very difficult to trust anyone and felt that everyone was dangerous. I learned, with the help of Adrian, to find that trust again through music.
Adrian began helping to pay some of my medical bills and then we applied for our motor cycle licences together. When I passed the test Adrian bought me a motorised scooter so I no longer needed to rely on public transport.
Understandably my confidence had been shattered by the attack so far from the comfort of home and, having missed a lot of lessons, I wanted to abandon my studies and return home to the safety of my family. Adrian encouraged me to continue with my studies and helped me to organise a trip home to Vietnam to visit my mother for the first time in over five years. At the airport however they were confronted by the immigration officials who claimed my student visa had expired and I was told to leave Australia and not return. I was distraught at the thought of not being able to return to complete my studies and Adrian made me a promise that he would find a way to bring me back into the country.
Adrian then began a twelve week battle with the Department of Immigration and brought together a group of people who worked tirelessly on my behalf. He enlisted the help of Australian barrister Julian Burnside who supported my case on national television and top lawyer David Bongiorno who offered pro bono representation, worked relentlessly and liaised with the Immigration Minister’s office and officials in Ho Chi Minh.
Adrian, meanwhile, organised a petition supporting my return to Australia and, through his own personal efforts and social media, he gathered 89,740 signatures. This petition was presented to the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, who responded personally to the case.
I was granted a new visa and on 1st March 2014 and returned to Australia to begin the final year of my degree.
But this wasn’t the end for Adrian. He felt so passionately about the need to raise awareness of racism in Australia that he began to organise and create a musical production showcasing my journey in Australia, through expressions of music, storytelling and dance that explored the negative and positive battles of my experience.
The production, ‘We are Australia – The Minh Duong Story,’ touched on racism, hope and community and the voluntary cast of professional performers that Adrian drew together played to sell out audiences on three successive nights. The proceeds from the shows went to help with my outstanding dental bill of $25,000 – I had never received any compensation for the attack.
Adrian De Luca saw an injustice and simply wanted to help a young man in any way he could. What he ultimately did though was to restore the shattered confidence of a young man far from family, help him gain back a trust in humanity and create a family for him here in Australia. He brought to the fore not only the negative aspects of racism and hatred in Australia but also the much more positive side of our society – empathy, compassion, community spirit, resilience, optimism and hope.
Adrian has proved that one person can make a difference and has become an inspiration to all who know him.
I was sad, depressed and had no hope in life then Adrian, my angel, came along.
Cast: Minh Tuan Duong
Audiovisual installation by Gan Jian
Cast: Gan Jian
Tags: minimal, audiovisual performance, audiovisual Installation, projection, light, light performance, electronic music, video video art, art performance, art installation, art, mapping, sound art and live set