Table of Contents
Previous research in cognitive and affective psychology has shown that human emotions and the body are inseparably related. For example, unconscious reactions to one’s own or others’ bodies, such as sadness when one finds oneself shedding tears or feeling happy when caught by another person’s smile, can trigger emotions and subjective experiences.
On the other hand, virtual reality (VR) has made it possible to make computer-generated simulated experiences feel as if they were real experiences. Nevertheless, there is no direct way to create emotions in VR. However, by simulating the physical state of the body when an emotion occurs, it should be possible to construct a technology that can induce any emotion by acting on the unconscious processing processes related to the occurrence of emotions.
In this exhibition, I envisioned “Cybernetic Minds” as a domain that deals with estimating and inducing subjective human experiences from a control-theoretic perspective. In recent years, it has become possible to estimate internal human information such as stress and emotions through real-time measurement of physical reactions such as heartbeats and facial expressions. In addition, the practical application of the “emotion-actuating device” introduced in this exhibition, which is based on the relationship between the body and emotions, will lead to a future in which the mind and machine will cooperate to achieve the desired emotional experience.
This kind of technology that influences the unconscious part of the human is sometimes viewed as immoral because it goes against the human view that what is natural is the best. On the other hand, in light of the current social situation, there are situations in which I feel that technology that affects our emotions is necessary. Social conditions can easily change due to unrealistic and emotional discourse, such as the US presidential election and Brexit. Emotional labor is also a problem in which workers are not allowed to express their honest feelings and are forced to smile at others, is also a problem. Emotional technologies can help people calm their minds to make calm judgments or help them express emotions different from their innermost feelings.
Finally, I hope this exhibition will encourage people to think about the interaction between the human body and emotions and the interaction between society and emotions.
Emotion-Actuating Machines #
The exhibition featured the following three “emotional-actuating devices”.
Incendiary reflection #
A mirror-type device that makes one’s own face as one looks into it appears to be “smiling” or “sad.” It was found that changing one’s own face to a smile can evoke positive emotions, while a sad face can evoke negative emotions. When you wake up in the morning and stand in front of the mirror to wash your face, if you see yourself in the mirror smiling at you, you may feel like you can do your best for the day.
Teardrop glasses #
A glasses-type device reproducing the sensation of tears running down the cheeks. It was found that not only those who wore the glasses shed tears but also those around them who did not wear the glasses felt sad. If you wear these glasses in a movie theater, you may feel sad even if the movie is nothing to you.
FaceShare is a video chat system where the other person laughs back when you laugh. It has been found that this improves the impression of the other party and the smoothness of the conversation, compared to having a normal video chat conversation. In the future, we may not have to force a smile, but the computer may make us smile on its own.
Direction: YOSHIDA Shigeo
Graphic Design: SHIGEYAMA Jotaro
Space Design: FUJINAWA Eisuke, NOMOTO Akira, and WATANABE Anna
Technical Support: SUZUKI Keita
Photo: NOMOTO Akira
Photo Model: NAKAYAMA Momoka
Cooperation: Cyber Interface Laboratory
Exhibition Date: Feb. 28, 2017.
Venue: The University of Tokyo
Story Behind Cybernetic Minds Exhibition #
This exhibition was held two weeks after the final defense of my doctoral dissertation.
While writing my doctoral dissertation, it suddenly occurred to me.
I had created a device that people could experience, but at the final defense, I could only describe those experiences in words.
With only my poor words, will I be able to convey an experience as delicate as the movement of a person’s emotion?
In any case, I decided to create an opportunity for people to experience the devices we have made so far.
This is how I came up with the idea for this exhibition.