The Ganzfeld effect is a kind of sensory deprivation caused not by cutting off stimulation like in an isolation tank by rather delivering unstructured stimulation like a total wash of unchanging color or white noise. (The word "ganzfeld" comes from the German for "complete field.") Starting in the 1930s, psychologists have studied how the Ganzfeld effect can trigger hallucination. It's also been used to interesting effect in art, like in James Turrell's light installations. For decade, parapsychologists have also tapped into the Ganzfeld effect to test for ESP. Riffing on that high weirdness (and its connection to art), the avant-electronica duo Matmos have released The Ganzfeld EP. From the album page:
"Instead of sending and receiving simple graphic patterns, test subjects were put into a state of sensory deprivation by covering their eyes and listening to white noise on headphones, and then Matmos member Drew Daniel attempted to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” directly into their minds. During videotaped psychic experiments conducted at home in Baltimore and at Oxford University, test subjects were asked to describe out loud anything they saw or heard within their minds as Drew attempted transmission. The resulting transcripts became a kind of score that was then used by Matmos to generate music. If a subject hummed something, that became a melody; passing visual images suggested arrangement ideas, instruments, or raw materials for a collage; if a subject described an action, then the band members had to act out that out and make music out of the noises generated in the process of the re-enactment."
Whether it was technology, telepathy, talent, or a combination of the three that brought these sounds to life, the result is as compelling as the concept. The Ganzfeld EP is available in various editions, including one that ships with Incase headphones and custom blinder goggles to continue the experiment on your own.
Matmos: The Ganzfeld EP (Amazon)
Matmos: The Ganzfeld EP (Thrill Jockey)
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