Mystics, shamans, Yogic masters, psychonauts, scientists, psychologists, 60s counter cultural figures, and teenagers with nothing better to do have been trying to navigate and explore the mind for centuries. The techniques can vary, from recreational drugs to meditation to Pink Floyd records played backwards. But just when you’re willing to give up on cracking the mind, because wearing tie-dye and reading Terence McKenna’s back catalogue isn’t working, along comes something new.
Bad Trip from Kwan Alan uses the concept of video games, and a video game controller, as a way to navigate the mind (or, at least, an interpretation of it). Like you’d navigate the scenery of a made up city or country in a new video game release, so too you can navigate Alan’s mind, complete with his visual memories. Alan explains the concept:
Since November 2011, every moments of my life has been logged by a video camera that mounts on my eyeglasses, producing an expanding database of digitalized visual memories. Using a custom virtual reality software, I design a virtual mindscape where people could navigate and experience my memories and dreams. The mindscape grows continually as fresh memories and dreams come in.
And so Alan has created a kind of surreal mindscape that’s part artifice, part real that people can explore in the form of houses that contain his recorded memories. And like all good representations of the mind, it has its fair share of bizarre imagery (I’m looking at you, tree-headed people). As an experimental installation it looks eerie and compelling and is one of those “why has no one thought of this before” ideas, which has its roots in sci-fi films like Strange Days, eXistenZ, and Total Recall.