We finally got a chance to fully test augmented reality prescriptions for patients with smartphone addictions. We were given the opportunity to open a small clinic at the “Off Label Festival” at Open Space Gallery in Victoria, British Columbia. The effect seemed to work well with volunteers wandering throughout the gallery during the opening, October 27. Many of our subjects still want to spend a good deal of time talking about the nature of virtual drugs and their involvement with smartphones. At one point it was noted by a patient that I was continually holding my iPhone. I proceeded to place it on the table and fully admit my own over identification with this object. A full portfolio of some of the visions can be viewed here. We don’t really use placebos in our studies but we thought we’d give a nod to the title of our portion of the event by translating “Art of the Placebo” to its derivation “I Shall Please“.
Archive for the ‘misconceptions’ Category
Since our recent post on various self-experimentation techniques of hypnosis combined with VF, we have noticed a number of artists who are possibly taking advantage of web media to produce artworks whose intent may be to hypnotize the audience and cause altered states in unsuspecting viewers. Following are a few examples:
We have known for some time that short animated gifts of all kinds have a tendency to be both addictive and psycho-affective. However these images are unusually powerful. Some of the effects we have noted from these particular animations are as follows:
• prolonged blurred and tinted vision
• carpal tunnel sensation
• compound eye irritation
• dance twitch
• mirror stage
• zero depth perception
• “Fort-Da” syndrome
One must be conscious and careful when it comes to the side effects of VF. There are posts on this blog describing these issues. Reports of visual imagery, sensation based reactions and psychological states have been described by clinical trial participants as well as noted in episodes of our own self-experimentation. Some are pleasant, some discomforting and some reported as frightening. We emphasize that these are side effects and not the main directive of the drug. During clinical trials we calm patients through any of these aberrations and hope that they become part of the overall liberating and deepening experience. The Beatles’ lyrics- “relax and float downstream” works well as advice in these cases.
Recently we compiled some our our visual records of patients and Doctors* experiences into a 12 minute video. The focus is on the experience of “tunneling” and Dr* WD Pappenheimer used this concept to curate an art exhibit at Famous Accountants in Brooklyn New York that is on view August 7th — September 4th.
Note that the exhibition’s opening reception formed a tunnel as visitors stepped down into the subterranean exhibition space and then at end of the cavereness space returned up to ground level for the backyard reception.
Tunneing was reviewed by Sarah Schmerler in Art in America, in the ArtBlog, Tunneling in Bushwick: Group Show at Famous Accountants, by Emmy Thelander, L Magazine, Tunneling for Treasure in Bushwick by Benjamin Sutton, BushwickBK Famous Accountants Tunnel Deeper, Paul Cox, the Kalm Report “Tunneling” Curated by William Pappenheimer at Famous Acountants, by James Kalm and in Hyperallergic, Tunneling Through Famous Accountants, by Hrag Vartanian.
Staff of the VF Clinic presenting at the recent DAW 2010 Symposium in Xi’an, China. Photo: Rasmus Vuori.
In public forums we often get questions about whether and how we hope to cure Internet addiction. Sometimes, and now is again one of those times, we are put in the midst of questions about the legitimacy of our entire project. First, since we are in the process of clinical trials, we do not know if Virta-Flaneurazine is an effective treatment for Internet addiction or WDD (Wanderlust Deficit Disorder), only that we have designed the drug study to address these issues. We are also well aware that Internet addiction, as a disorder, is itself a question. If there is a doubt raised by treating a disease with something of the same order, we need only look at the concept of inoculation.
If the question is whether this study is a hoax, as has been raised on Digg.com and sluniverse.com in the last day or so, We would have to answer clearly, no. We are Artist/Doctors. We have an actual programmable drug that works if you follow the proper procedures. When we have put the clinics into operation, three times in the past years, and all documented on this blog, we have interviewed scores of clinical volunteers who have taken VF in our guided presence. We have tried to conduct things in a manner that conforms to the highest clinical standards.
If the question is about the morality of introducing drugs to the virtual world, as was particularly raised in our past interview by W Radio from Bogotá, Colombia (see “Reality Addiction” blog entry), we need only respond by pointing out that gaming programs such as Grand Theft Auto allow users to steal cars and kill people willy-nilly. The very goal of VF is not mayhem and social disorder, but release from increasingly habitual virtual daily habits.
If the question is about the relationship of virtual and real lives we need only look at online stock market fluctuations and economies or gaming modules and military drones. These days, what happens in the virtual world, happens in the real world.
One of our trial patients at the Xi’an clinic, when asked how he was feeling under the influence of the drug, repeatedly knocked his hand to his chest area and complained that his heart was empty. He said he felt very lonely and cold. He had seen no one on his travels. This has happened only a few times before with other patients and we usually explain that some of the areas of the Second Life world are not always populated. They are if there are treasure hunts, baby showers, dance parties, musical drumming raves, sex orgies or marketing events. Even though avatars spend a lot of time making elaborate buildings and environments, they are not always there. Dr* Freeman always asks the question, “What happens to your avatar when you are asleep?” This empty feeling held by some patients might well be related to issues in their lives or perhaps the general question about whether the internet is alive or just a place of traces, memories, advertisements and monuments. Perhaps this is why Tempo Strom and Susi Vaccano started playing the “Skyscraper Endgame” (ie throwing trash of a high skyscraper just to watch it fall) in the eteam’s “Prim Limit“.
Our translators, Yuan Mengchen and Zhiqiu Du, working with us as translators though trial patient experiences and interviews, made possible detailed note-taking consistent with previous trials in other countries. Amongst the notable answers recorded were an unexpected recognition of areas in the virtual world reminding our subjects of landscapes in China. The reproduced note page below documents one such example where the patient experienced the recognition of Guangdong Province in the southern coastal area of the Chinese continent.
Recognition of places, objects and personages in the virtual world reminding us of memories and experiences in RL is a very important component of these trials. The journey patients take on VF is of course as much a psychic journey as any we might take in our conscious or dream-state lives.
Another colleague at DAW2010, Sue Thomas, De Montfort University, UK, informed us of her particular interest in metaphors of nature in cyberspace. Her blog, The Wild Surmise chronicles her interesting observations and revealing interviews with some of the pioneers of computer media. We might hope to cross correlate our trial findings and analysis with her inquiry in the not-too-distant future.
Virta-Flaneurazine test subject JC Priestman’s sojourn at Lily & Honglei’s Great Firewall and Sunken City.
Squint eyes to see young men play a war games at a rehabilitation
center for Internet addicts in Beijing. China has banned the use
of electroshock therapy in treating Web addicts. (Source: China Daily)
The question of whether VF is addictive or real, or whether it is indistinguishable from pre-existing problems of “internet addiction” was put to us in an interview from a W Radio affiliate in Bogata, Columbia. How “internet addiction” is defined is mushy question, whether there are a certain number of hours a week that qualify a user as addicted or whether it is more an attitude or state of mind induced during internet activities. However, since there is an increasing level of inter-dependance between the virtual space and reality itself, “dependance” may be a difficult principle to assess. We were, however, mindful of the challenges concerning the interview broadcast from the location of Bogota, Columbia, which has seen so many serious problems tied to the drug trade and the world demand for psycho-active drugs. There is the continued human desire for altered consciousness which drives demand. VF as we have repeatedly pointed out is not illegal in the US because it is not defined by the FDA. (Don’t believe anyone who claims otherwise.)
Estimates from VF clinical study indicate that most trial participants feel that everything on the internet is “real”.
W Radio- link to interview: http://www.wradio.com.co/oir.aspx?id=692896
W Radio is currently considered one of the most important radio stations on the spanish speaking world, with an estimated audience of over 2’000.000 people broadcasting to Ecuador, Panama, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Colombia and more.
JC Priestman, who has been with the VF clinical trials from the start, is beginning to show troubling signs of VF addiction. He has been seen hanging out around the clinic after hours and the inventory in the pharmacy seems to be out of order. Although he is understandably tired after his contribution, his demeanor seems to have changed and he spends may hours facing into corners of rooms with a glazed, detached expression.
JC Priestman Showing Signs of VF Addiction
The effectiveness of the use of VF in the treatment of internet addiction is still unclear, but we fear that VF might cause its own dependancy issues.