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Gestalt Inhibition Sequence: A Proposed Method of Immersion into Virtual Environments

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Presented at Siggraph '98, featured in Computer Graphics World Magazine October 1998
and in the 25th Anniversary Retrospective January 2002.

Created with Alias Power Animator and Adobe After Effects

The project is a visualization of a proposed method of psychological immersion
into virtual environments using audio-visual wave sequencing driven by biofeedback
through conversion of brainwave algorithms.

The objective is to target specific states of consciousness
by establishing a given state and accelerating or slowing to a target state,
easing the tendency towards conscious control, optimizing suggestibility, and furthering immersion.

This project began as an unconscious distraction and ultimately became a strategy for achieving immersion into virtual environments. I have been interested in understanding the creative process, motivation, and the relationship between conscious and unconscious states, and I was seeking to establish a quantifiable, reliable means of triggering the creative state, or a suggestible state. Are they one and the same? Certainly, imagination is the product of immersion or a highly focused state of attention. VR Researchers at Georgia Tech scoffed at my notion of 'Digital Hypnosis', or at least they shunned the terminology because of the stigma - hence the name 'Gestalt Inhibition Sequence'.

The original mock-up image that intrigued me to carry out the project.


I created this textured form as a desktop icon, then began duplicating it.

An early stage of "growth" at a close view; the red areas indicate the base from which the initial forms sprout.

Although the original component is constantly changing, the process involved taking a unit of six components and building a new structure in the same pattern of 6 overlapping and offset units as with the original structure, and applying a comprehensive 'mutation' to the new 'generation'. Each consecutive generation was arranged and affected in a unique way - there were a total of eight generations, which amounts to 1,296 of the original components.


Six variations, in order of progression. My strategy is to use abstraction to reward the viewer's tendency to seek out pattern, leading the willing eye into the flow of the wave motion. The wave pattern is an increasing synchronization that is suspended just beyond the viewer's perception, driving towards rest. The 'further' away from the structure, the more clearly the pattern may be seen, so the proximity is governed by the viewer's biofeedback.
In this way, there is a direct correlation between proximity to the overall structure, wave speed, and a viewer's degree of immersion, or 'gestalt inhibition'.



At this stage, I solid projected each frame of the existing animation onto a piece of wavering geometry and converted each frame to a solid texture, so it would stretch the texture (Below: animated color map on animated geometry). The wave of the geometry was created with offset clusters, creating a fluid cloth effect, (this was prior to the introduction of soft body dynamics). The method of cluster animation, animated shader, and conversion of solid-projected texture were three techniques I had focused on as potentials of organic modeling and animation. I then brought this component back into After Effects to complete the remaining generations.


Beginning of the 37 second animated sequence.

Final frame of the sequence.


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