The Library of Beta-Memex

The Library of Beta-Memex Mindfulness

Critical Media Lab, 2015

The Library of Beta-Memex Mindfulness is a device that uses brain waves to control the output and motor of a typewriter. The piece seeks to materialize research on information overload, mindfulness, neurofeedback, the Quantified Self movement, and cybernetics. The device attempts to address the exchange and mutual shaping that occurs when humans and machines enter into a cybernetic system. The installation uses a hacked EEG machine headset to measure beta waves which are related to attentive states of consciousness. When a user is able to maintain their attention above a certain threshold, The Library of Beta-Memex Mindfulness is programmed to shift the output of the typewriter from incoherent noise to coherent text using a Lindenmayer system (or L-system).

The output of the device draws on Jorge Luis Borges and the ideas he presented in “The Library of Babel” regarding the unimaginable completeness of using algorithm processes to produce every book that could ever be written, as well as the mystical implications of searching for the book which is a “perfect compendium of all the rest”.

My intent is to present the device as a literal extension of the nervous system in the utopian spirit of the cyborg and connect the user and device through a hands-free interface that is completely powered by their neurological processes. Here the user is called to consider how the boundaries between inner/outer are reflexively situated in both the mind and the environment to where we are, according to McLuhan, “an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide”.