Next Senses is an ongoing research project and science fiction film installation by Lisanne Buik and Next Nature Network that explores the potential of AI, AR and sensor-tech to expand our senses, increase our wellbeing, and connect us to nature in unexpected ways.
Venture into the Labyrinth of the Senses, a spherical museum created in collaboration with our commissioner, CitySenses. Inside the Next Senses sphere you are challenged to suspend your notions of present-day reality and immerse yourself in an audiovisual presentation of five future senses. Empathise with humans of the future as they navigate nature, humanity and everyday life in alternative ways.
On show at Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, November 2019
Why expand your senses
Developments in AI, AR and sensor-tech give us the rare opportunity to liberate and share diverse notions ‘reality’ experienced by different humans, animals and plants. As a result, these technologies help us to develop empathy, as well as nurture humility for how little we really objectively know.
Taking a feminine, sensual and intuitive approach to technology, Lisanne and her team not only speculate about the future of technologically enhanced senses; the project is also a thoughtful consideration of our society today - of how technology transforms the connections we make with our bodies, as well as with human and non-human others.
The installation aims to spark debate and help us formulate a shared vision on how technologically augmented senses could add value to society.
Synthesia is a rare phenomenon where a sensation in one of the senses, such as smell, triggers a sensation in another, such as sight. Now synthesia could be made widely accessible through technology. In this speculative scenario, Franka - a chef who has lost her sense of smell - explains how her synthesia sense rewired not only her brain and cooking processes, but also how she experiences her sexuality.
How would our world transform if odors were transmuted into colours? What unexpected uses for this technology could be found beyond the kitchen and the dinner table?
While humans have sought to discover, name, chart and plot every inch of land on the planet, the deepest depths of our oceans remain one of Earth’s last mysteries. The protagonist of this film, Grace, seeks to connect with whales in order to form a direct relationship with obscure ocean life.
Via a microchip Grace feels the frequencies of whale sounds coursing through her bones, physiologically tying her to the social lives of whales who as it were teach her to understand their language.
Skin Waves inspires a conversation about our relationship to the natural world in general, and the ocean in particular, and challenges the common perception of technology to disconnect us from the Earth's non-human species, circadian rhythms and low-frequency sounds. Would we live in more harmony as a whole, if technology could help us to become empathetic to nature in a broader sense?
As you watch, contemplate how your perspective may shift if you were a human conductor of animal communication? How would this intimate interaction with a different species impact your emotional experience?
The Baby Code
Many mothers would love to know exactly how their baby is feeling. Baby Code imagines a future in which mothers can use technology to rely on something more tangible than their intuition. In this scenario, a teenage twin translated the telepathic language they remember from when they were babies into computer code that is then programmed into a brain implant that communicates with a camera sensor in a contact lens. They gifted this to their mother after she gave birth to their baby brother. Now, their mother can instantly connect with her newborn son, to sense exactly what he needs and how he feels.
This speculation touches on a grey area in sensor technologies. It challenges us to ask if it is desirable to overwrite one of the most powerful forms of intuition: that of a new mother. And also, when consent is impossible, is it ethical to decipher your baby's first farts and burps? Maybe some things just have to remain dirty and unapologetically analog? What do you think?
Consider a scenario in which you could implant yourself with a sense of empathy using AI. In this film, a third-eye implant that runs on facial recognition algorithms proves highly beneficial for Jan, an autist. For Jan, inner peace is precarious; his world is loud, intense and incredibly full. Although he is affectionately empathetic, he struggles with social and cultural rules, which is enhanced when his senses are overstimulated by the urban hustle and bustle. Hence, whenever he feels incapable to give the right empathetic responses, he activates John, the AI who knows all the rules of social sophistication with perfection.
How could a technology that simulates empathy transform our social lives? Would you rely on AI to detect the emotions of others? Would you still trust others? Do you know someone who might benefit from this technology?
︎ Next Senses - Electronic Empathy
Wifi Angels presents a future in which Wifi signals can be heard through a sensor chip implanted in the ear.
The protagonist of this film, dancer Jason, can now dance on the music of the world wide web, wherever he is. Additionally, the angelic sounds that accompany the Wifi detection sense have a calming effect that boosts his wellbeing.
How do you imagine the sound of WiFi? Would you end up looking for isolated areas to enjoy the silence or would you gather in crowded places to listen to a concert of competing wireless signals? Also check out the WiFi angels app (link).
︎ Next Senses - Wifi Angels
Concept & Direction: Concept, Creative Director, Research, Scripts: Lisanne Buik Project Management: Tim Hoogesteger, Next Nature Network Art Direction, Camera, Editing: Alain de Bruijn Sense Consultancy: Koert van Mensvoort, Rolf Swolfs Cast: Actors: Jason Winter (Wifi Angels), Hester Beek (Synesthesia), Andy Chaleff (Electronic Empathy), Lisanne Buik (Skin Waves), Levange en Evaly Hermus (The Baby Code) Voice-Overs: Jason Winter (Wifi Angels), Hilde Anna de Vries (Synesthesia), Oscar Kneppers (Electronic Empathy), Lisanne Buik (Skin Waves), Fay Kneppers (The Baby Code). Project Partners: Next Nature Network, CitySenses, Lisanne Buik, Alain de Bruijn.
This production is supported by: Rabobank, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Cultuurfonds Almere, Gemeente Almere, ANBI, Arc2 Architecten, AMR, Voordekunst, TSR, Active Health Foundation. Gratitude to: Kimchi Wow, Eye Museum, Rotterdam AI, Amsterdam Welvaren, Fleur van der Minne, TU Delft – Pieter Jonker, Conscious Hotel Amsterdam.
- Leonardo Davinci
©️ Lisanne Buik, Next Nature Network, CitySenses, 2019