Archive for the ‘misconceptions’ Category

Remote Control

December 12, 2008


Part of our ability to supervise clinical trials remotely involved opening as many telecommunications  programs and windows as possible to connect to the space. The idea was that should we lose the patient physically, psychologically or virtually we could find them in one window or another. This proved to be a lifesaver in a number of instances. At other critical junctures, this multilateral telepresence also allowed Dr.* Freeman and I to enter the consciousness of a clinical participant subtly through text or visually-audibly through AV Chat. With all the windows open simultaneously, and various kinds of activity and communications happening in many forms, it was somewhat exhilarating feeling of connectivity. There seems little question that we might be entering an era of medi-valence in the best sense of this concept. However, to call this control, is somewhat of a misnomer, since our highest goal in developing VF  is to cause or allow the patient to the unbridled freedom of wandering.

Advertisements

Immobility, Dissociation and Freefall

October 20, 2008


During the first few weeks of the clinic at Fringe Exhibitions we had some continuing problems with what we called the pejorative “bad trip.” However, it was not this avenue which bothered us, but rather its frequency. Negative, dead-end or paranoiac experiences have been reported with the use of all psychoactive drugs including those prescribed for depression such as Prozac or Zoloft. In the initial trials we experienced both in clinic visitors and our self-study experiments, problems in which the user would become a immobile and un-teleportable or exceedingly dissociated from the live Internet connection to the online virtual world. The above screen shots are of one of my such experiences.  I also observed a similar instance where the user’s avatar plummeted downwards in an endless freefall, spiral hallucination in tow. The patient and I watched until the avatar disappeared below. I’ve never seen this before, nor since.

The other significant problem that developed was a condition of immobility whereby the avatar simply would not teleport, and hence wandered endlessly along the bottom of the ocean or the sides of the hills near the clinic. This was indeed frustrating for administrator and subject alike. Since this problem seemed to clear up with adjustments in the dosage, calls to ATT tech support and refreshed local network connections, we did not spend much time studying the source of this effect. It may well be a proclivity in user with respect to certain dosages or conditions of the local or public network. However, at one point we did notice a distinct correspondence to periods of high Internet traffic and local Los Angeles traffic.

Grief and Ecstasy

April 27, 2008

 

While Dr Freemont and I were working on the VF pill casing at Morris Sandbox we were “attacked” by “griefers”. We attempted to finish our work but movement eventually became impossible. This event was very memorable and brings up many issues that we will perhaps return to in this blog. Despite the opinions of some that griefers are “terrorists,” which we feel dilutes an already fuzzy term, the practice seems more like “noise bombing”. 

For myself, the whole experience was quite spontaneously beautiful. One even might say that it was a liminal experience, removing one temporarily from the pragmatics of making things to an experience of being. The cacophony of visual, audio and textual information was in its own way, ecstatic. However, the important Wired magazine article on this practice introduces a cacophony of questions not only concerning it’s practitioners but also the nature of virtuality. Strangely, the injection of emotional categories into the dialectics of web vs real world epistemologies, strikes us as an odd development on both sides of the issue. Griefers (aka goons) want virtual participants to lighten up about the silliness of taking the virtual world too seriously. Goons often employ virtual violent disruptive means to inspire humor. It is interesting to consider whether Griefer’s see themselves part of the larger hacker community and hence connected to the alternative value system of hacker ethics or simply operate from internal drives such as the Pleasure Principle. 

On the other hand, the emotional suggestion that virtuality is silly, unreal or impotent seems increasingly irrelevant in the context that it is now inseparable from many real world activities and institutions. A virtual bomb on stock market data exchange would have a very real set of catastrophic consequences that might not be so funny. Conversely, a Mercedez Benz is no more real value in terms of its material than a Tata car, its all about surplus value. But try telling the police to lighten up after you have just rammed a Mercedes-Benz CL or to the nicely dressed hacker who has just taken a high paying job at Microsoft and is the proud owner of the car.

 

We are aware that the development of a drug like VF could similarly be viewed as antisocial, or “disruptive” (as Dr* Fremont likes to call it). After all the affects cause aimless wanderings across the use oriented grid of Second Life. It gets hard to see property formation, social order and profit through the lens of hallucination. But that’s what makes our study so intriguing. And we are also a clinic- as interested in administering the drug as addressing its affects. 

Virta-Flaneurazine-SL, Midterm Report

March 11, 2008
The four-member team working on Virta-Flaneurazine-SL began its work in the fall of 2007 by isolating and analyzing the Virta-Flaneurazine-SL molecule and building the clinic in Second Life. Both of these endeavors have been successful. Reports on both areas follow.
 
VF Pill 01
 
Virta-Flaneurazine-SL Molecule:
Mass spectrometry suggests that the Virta-Flaneurazine-SL (VF) molecule resembles Lysergic acid diethylamide in many respects but with an extra molecular structure attached similar to 3-Mercaptopropionic Acid (3-MPA). 3-MPA is known to produce symptoms of disorientation. Presumably this accounts for the combined symptoms of wanderment and hallucination reported by patients. The results of our analysis of the VF molecule makes us confidant that we might now be able to dispel some of the misconceptions of composition that have previously circulated.
VF Molecule 01
 
VF Molecule 02 
 
Prograchemistry:
A number of the hallucinatory effects of VF have been programmatically discovered and can be rather easily triggered using both internal and external scripting. In the process of this research, the experience of “tunneling” was discovered to be a recurrent symptom. This means that at times patients perceive themselves moving down a tunnel or into a spiral. Searching into his own past, Dr* JC Freeman, realized a recurring attraction to the notion of mazes or labyrinths, while Dr* WD Pappenheimer remembered painting numerous spirals early in his teenage years.
VF Hallucination 01
The wanderment prograchemistry has also been well charted. The auto-body programming compulsion to wander randomly and aimlessly has been isolated and written. The problem of understanding means for auto-teleportation has been overcome through a series of assays and is now a usable. This prograchemistry represents mostly the external portion of the two-part drug. The further understanding and mastery of creating a long-term multi-variant wander excursion, responsive to individual patients experience, represents the challenge of future work in this area. The capability to translate programming to cross-platform technologies will also be addressed at the final stages of the research.
VF Hallucination 02
Virta-Flaneurazine-SL Clinic:
Finally, the in-world construction of the clinic is proceeding as planned and most of lab equipment has been delivered. The clinic has a furnished waiting area, situationist reading materials, a front counter, a good supply of medication, an exam room and necessary medical charts and equipment.
VF Clinic 01
This will be the location for in-world patient reception, recruiting, interviews, exams and distribution of the in-world dosage of the trial VF and placebo. Clinical study forms are being prepared and submitted for review and approval. 
VF Clinic 02
When completed the administration of the trial will ensure that patients clearly understand the nature of their participation as well as provide the data, which might influence the patient’s response to the trial.
Finally, plans are being drafted for the deployment of the out-world mobile clinic, consisting of a standing hospital curtain, two interview chairs, transit files and a data projection of patients’ experiences. The out-world mobile clinics will be important points for initiating and continuing patient relationships.
 VF Clinic 03