🌌 New media installation
🎨 Artist / Designer / Tech
⭐ Updated Dec. 2021
⭐ Updated Feb. 2022
🔮 Conceptual Development
🖍 Schematic Design
🖱️ Design Development
📐 Construction Drawings
💻 Systems Design & Spec.
🖥️ Server Assembly & Setup
📂 Content Sourcing
🎥 Content Production
🎵 Musical Composition
👂 Sound Design
👨🎤 Talent Mgmt.
📡 Remote Mgmt.
Professional Scenic Services
💪 Boston Kassidy
The BRAINWASHER is a permanent mixed reality installation and platFORM for experimental multimedia. It was designed, in part, for exploring how physical form, continuity, multiplicity, and synchronicity can expand and augment video content. A concentrated analog of the deluge of screens that constitute the various media networks in which we are all entangled, the installation surrounds and overwhelms the viewer in a cocoon of media.
The design of BRAINWASHER utilizes 15 projectors to cover 300 circular displays that range from 10 inches to 10 feet in diameter. These displays form a single continuous surface that envelops the room's 700 square feet with a dynamic and seemingly weightless composition of undulating waves.
The installation supports the ongoing programming of an ever-growing roster of local, regional, and national artists working across a range of media.
(iter. 1, Basal Beat), 2020 (past)
36 seconds, loop
The first audiovisual content created for the Brainwasher. Basal Beat showcases the Brainwasher's ability to envelop viewers with spanning natural vistas, cut to a modern yet primal beat.
(iter. 2, Basal Beat II), 2022
1 min. 28 sec., loop
An extended cut of Basal Beat, with more room to breathe and a splash of self awareness.
(iter. 3, Thought Trap), 2022
2 min. 26 sec., loop
Audiovisual content created for the Brainwasher
Mark Patch a.k.a. AKULT
Cognitive Swarms, 2023 (anticipated)
2 min. 22 sec., loop
Audiovisual feature by acclaimed immersive video artist Mark Patch, whose work A Colorful Dream is currently on display as part of the immersive Van Gough experience at The LUME in Melbourne, Australia.
(iter. 4, Ultrasonic), 2022 (anticipated)
2 min. 8 sec., loop
MIX & MASHUP
Each feature added to the BRAINWASHER collection is welcomed with a solo or group run of engagement. After this debut period the pieces are added to the BRAINWASHER's content library, and eventually mixed into the ongoing audiovisual mashup, Brainstorm. Features in the collection are also cycled back into view periodically, and at special request, as originally shown.
[ photo: Christopher Brielmaier ]
The animator and video artist Stan VanDerBeek identified early on in the advent of telecommunication that the amount of visual information being run through our skulls was steadily increasing, and starting to make heads spin. He referred to the mounting bombardment of images as "visual velocity".
If a picture is worth a thousand words, and video plays at a speed of at least 30 frames per second, then watching a video is like getting blasted with 30,000 words PER SECOND! And here we are gawking at our phones and laptops all day. It's like running a fire hose through our skulls. It's no surprise hardly anything from the stream ever sticks. It's even less of a surprise that when something from outside the stream – such as a rare venture outdoors – leaves a lasting impression.
The BRAINWASHER was conceptualized, in part, to recreate and exaggerate the experience of inundation and overstimulation we are subjected to within our screens. Imagine playing back every show, text chat, advertisement, word document, tutorial, social media feed, and video call from your day, but all at once. Deafening?
Then, in direct opposition to the cacophony of over 200 discordant streams, the BRAINWASHER proposes an alternative. It stretches a singular landscape across all of its circular screens. What if instead of everything at your fingertips, you only had one thing? What if instead of having our attention divided, our attention united?
By juxtaposing the extremes of discordance and harmony, the BRAINWASHER heightens each experience, and posits an approach of unity and synchronization that offers to put our primal minds at ease.
[ photo: Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer ]
As with many of my projection works, the BRAINWASHER is in part an exploration of the relationship between the physical properties of display systems (square, circular, flat, faceted, glossy, fuzzy, singular, multiple, etc.), and content (the virtual images recreated using pixels).
The BRAINWASHER explores alternative physical forms of virtual display in three specific ways. Instead of using conventional rectangular screens the BRAINWASHER is made up of circular displays. Instead of using one screen to display one image, it explores using multiple screens to display a single image. Lastly, instead of maintaining a planar display surface, the BRAINWASHER utilizes its many screens to create a single curved surface that envelopes the entire room.
[ Screen shape study ]
SQUARE vs CIRCLE
The BRAINWASHER consists of circular displays, a purposeful departure from the more common rectangular displays we are familiar with on televisions, computers, and phones.
Since the standard display arrived at its rectangular shape because of its efficiencies, any deviation from this standard comes at a cost to efficiency. So, while selecting an alternate shape it was important to keep the amount of display area sacrificed to a minimum. Hence, the early interest in hexagons, the bestagons.
While circular displays were ultimately chosen for BRAINWASHER, the remaining display shapes and the compositions of their multiples remains a subject of studio inquiry via sketches, digital models, and physical mockups.
[ Shape composition study ]
[ Conceptual sketch ]
[ Photo: Christopher Brielmaier ]
" They're everywhere.. "
– anonymous viewer
[ Motion and content study ]
BRAINWASHER was conceived of from the beginning as a system and sculpture as much or even more so than it's content. It was designed not only to sustain various types of video content, but as a tool for exploring the relationship between video content and the physical form through which it is displayed. Accordingly, early previsualizations served not just to visualize the space as it would eventually be experienced, but also to explore which types of content created interesting experiences within the BRAINWASHER.
[ Still from motion and content study (Ink) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Clouds) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (School of fish) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Fins) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Fireworks) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Pedestrians) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Color gradients) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Aerial traffic) ]
[ Still from motion and content study (Jellyfish) ]
The BRAINWASHER runs on two separate computers. Much like the two hemispheres of a brain, each computer controls half of the installation's 300 circular displays, and is specialized. One side side controls what content is playing, the tempo of scene changes, and the audio for the installation, freeing the other side up to focus computational resources on rendering generative visual content. Order and structure on one side, and creativity on the other.
Although the dual nature of the system supporting the BRAINWASHER first came about as a technical solution, emergent parallels to a human brain have been fully embraced and will be carried forward as the mind of the BRAINWASHER evolves.
[ Foliage infill study ]
" BRAINWASHER […] pays homage to the work of Nam June Paik, the father of video art, as well as video domes by the experimental filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek. "
Staff Arts Critic at the Houston Chronicle
Yeah, can I get 300 white pizzas delivered to Houston? No this is not a prank call..
– Where did you get the idea?
No idea is original. Over the course of our lives, many many things make it into our subconscious. Things half remembered. Things that may never be remembered again. Dusty memories that stir only with the right sights and sounds. I spent countless hours inside the BRAINWASHER while it was being built, and during those hours many of the work's predecessors had time to bubble up from my subconscious. Some are included below.
A MACHINE of EXPERIENCE
It is a privilege to participate in the creation of any large-scale projection installations, whether for a music festival, historic celebration, or popup event. Project budgets regularly exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a complex machine consisting of computers, projectors, and audio equipment that allows computer-animated video clips to merge with a sculpture or building in real life – all to sustain a painstakingly curated experience. As expensive as it is to create these experience-creating machines, they almost never last. The equipment is rented for the duration of an event or festival, and any custom video content or animations often never see the light of day again. All that volume, all those pixels, all that production value, for a couple nights of glitzy but often deceptively shallow entertainment before disappearing forever.
After seeing dozens of temporary projects come and go, including some of my own creation, I began to wonder what would happen if an installation remained in place – became art in residence. Could an installation grow roots, get to know the locals, and change itself to reflect its surroundings? Rather than making an impression – in a top-down manner – what if one of these experience machines was designed with an open mind, to be impressionable?
I begun advocating for permanent installations, making the case for both their financial and cultural resiliency and return over a longer period of time. The goal was to establish works that would attract an local audience, solicit content from and reflect the local community, and eventually become a tool for accelerated cultural development. The BRAINWASHER is one such tool. It is a machine designed to ingest content – video, art, sounds of Houston – and spitting it back out in a mix that can be experienced, occupied, and taken in all at once.
HIGH TECH / NO TECH
ENTER the PENOPTICON
THE BIGGER PICTURE
THE 6th FAÇADE
Visually, the similarities between the portals featured in the final battle sequence of the popular Marvel climax Avengers: Endgame and the circular displays of the BRAINWASHER are very apparent. Artistically however, their shared implication of Non-euclidean space is a more interesting concept to explore.
MULTIPLICITY & INSTANCE
How do the colors, patterns and compositions within a single object, or instance, effect a composition that consists of a multiplicity of the same object? Many painters and graphic designers have explored this question in series, but the 2D medium falls short of exploring changes in time.
Olafur Eliasson's piece Algae Window takes the inquiry further, creating a composition out of optical spheres that encapsulate the world behind them. While Eliasson's approach does much to bring the fidelity and depth of the real world into play within the exploration of multiplicity, the piece in unable to introduce and thus explore variance – except for the extremely minute – within and between each instance.
Since opening in 2020, the BRAINWASHER has been experienced by countless patrons, lovingly anointed as the brainwashed. As the BRAINWASHER evolves through a variety of content updates, the memories of the brainwashed help keep record of the work's evolution.