‘Cogito’ is an art project speculating on the creative and philosophical possibilities of exploring the cosmos by means of radio waves. The project is the development of ‘OPTICKS’, a live performance during which images are sent to the Moon and back in real time as radio waves.
Since starting ‘OPTICKS’ in 2009, I have been experimenting with the concept of virtual space travel, creating a series of art works using the Moonbounce technology. ‘Cogito’ takes the concept of virtual space travel a bit further. The project has been presented at the UNESCO SETI meeting in Paris, in March 2014, and has been featured in the 50th Design Biennale in Ljubljana from September to December 2014. During the opening day of the Design Biennale, I collected the brain waves of the visitors as EEG signals and converted them into a sound pattern, which was then transmitted into space for sixty minutes as part of a performance, streamed live from the Dwingeloo radio telescope.
An excerpt of the live event can be viewed on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDvro08pIh4 The title of the piece is inspired by Cartesian philosophy and aims at linking the project to the ongoing debate on mind – body – consciousness, of which René Descartes was an important figure for his dualistic vision on the mind – body matter, which greatly influenced the development of modern Western philosophy. Also recent experiments in quantum physics seem to suggest extraordinary links between the matter of the mind and that of the cosmos, raising profound questions on the nature of consciousness and perception. Sending thoughts into outer space is thus a symbolic action for shifting our consciousness from the earth-centred perspective, to the cosmos wide perspective, while questioning the mathematical notion of intelligence, as conceived by some relevant SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers.
Thinking is more than logical reasoning and can communicate much more about our nature to a potential extraterrestrial life, should it be able to decode our EEG signals. For the second part, the project will be developed in collaboration with the ‘Overview Institute’, a group of researchers engaged with the study of the ‘overview effect’ caused by seeing the earth from outer space. A brain lab – consisting in an EEG headset – will be installed inside the cabin of the Dwingeloo radio telescope, in order to be used by visitors who will be able to send their thoughts into outer space, while experiencing the immersive view of the Earth seen from Space through a 3D visual simulator. ‘Cogito’ will thus allow people to experience virtual space travel and shift their consciousness into outer space.
The project aims at fostering a global awareness of our planet, raising questions on timely political and geographical issues. Ultimately, this is the objective I share with the Overview Institute: travelling into space for better understanding our planet and reflecting upon ourselves.
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