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Concept

Crowds of people are susceptible to material vibrations, but such waves elicit little effect upon computers. Human beings only have analogue outputs; we communicate and modulate via longitudinal waves. Computers have digital inputs and outputs, and analogue outputs, granting them advantage in terms of who and what they can sway. Contemplative Computing is a literal meditation on what the algorithmic power of computers now enables us to discern about our world/existence while exposing a lopsided power structure in the vibrational exchange between man and machine.

A contrast is drawn with mantric chanting: millennia-old embodied technologies of knowledge systems with greater respect for intuition and introspective reflection. Thus, Contemplative Computing juxtaposes Gnostic knowledge systems with rationalist knowledge systems by directly manipulating the internal speed of a computer based on the material vibrations by which mantric chanting operates and manifests, dictating how quickly the computer can make sense of information and calculate knowledge.

Contemplative Computing was my final year project, in collaboration with Lisa Baldini, that attempted to comment on the difference of speed between how our bodies makes sense of the world and how computers make sense of the world.

There was a lot of conceptual layers at work in this project, including a continutation of some of the database concerns that arose during my minor investigation. Lisa and I were collectively drawn to exploring vibrations so we decided to use the vibration of the human larynx as the human scale measure to dictate the speed of how the computer operated.

We used arduino and some creative use of Ubuntu software to accomplish this: an arduino measured the vocal vibrations via a piezo contact mic and this input was harnessed by custom software on the PC which then slowed down the CPU fan relative to the vibrations detected. The direct link to the computer’s operational speed was accomplished by running a CPU strain script (of the sort commonly used in overclocked gamer PCs) in the background perpetually. Therefore if the fan wasn’t spinning quickly enough the PC would burn out and die!

Below is an illustration of how the project worked