Kevin Mack is an Oscar-winning visual effects artist and abstract artist who creates digital spaces with fluidly moving textures that are awe-inspiring in their ability to create a novel experience unique to VR. In Blortasia you float weightlessly exploring the ins and outs of a series of tunnels that have a consistent topological sculpture, but with an ever-changing shader of patterned frequencies of rainbow colors that cultivate a sort of visual neural entrainment. It aspires to recreate a psychedelically transcendent or transpersonal experience that goes beyond what your verbal mind can easily understand as there’s no content, message, story, game or objective beyond providing an experience that’s only possible in these virtual worlds. It’s this unique balance between seeing an exciting and novel visual experience that’s also simultaneously relaxing and has the power to induce powerful trance states that may have unique healing properties that are being discovered in medical applications for distraction therapy.
LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
Mack has a neuroscience background, and so he’s been collaborating with brain surgeons who are experimenting with using his Zen Parade 360 video as a hypoalgesic to decrease sensitivity to painful stimuli, but it also suppresses the normal thought processes of the left brain so that it neuroscientists can map out and discover new properties of our right brains. Preliminary studies are showing that his abstract design approach to distraction therapy applications in VR are actually more effective than other VR apps that were specifically designed for pain management.
Mack describes himself as a psychonaut having experimented with a lot of psychedelic experiences, but he’s also studied meditation, lucid dreaming, and a number of other esoteric and mystical practices. His career has been in the visual effects industry where he won an Academy Award for his work on What Dreams May Come, but with virtual reality he’s finally able to synthesize all of his life experiences and interests where he can allow people to step inside of his immersive VR art experiences that are designed to expand the blueprints of our minds.
He sees that verbal language has allowed humans to evolve our science and technology up to this point, but that it’s also limited us and constrained us to a whole host of verbal neuroses. He hopes that his virtual reality experiences like Blortasia and Zen Parade can help free us from the shackles of our left brains that he sees are inhibiting the deeper parts of our intuition and unconscious levels of awareness. He’s personally had a number of amazing but also traumatizing experiences with psychedelics, and so he’s trying to use virtual reality in order to replicate those transcendent feelings of awe and wonder that come from mystical experiences in a more safe and controlled fashion.
Mack also shares his out-of-this world, retrocausality backstory that includes a substance-free psychedelic experience with a time-traveling artificial consciousness that’s he’s just starting to create now with neural networks embedded within his art. Is it possible that Mack in the process of actually developing a sentient level of artificial consciousness that will evolve to master the structures of space-time to bend the arrow of time? Or was it just the vivid imagination of a four-year old that has provided him with a powerful inspiration for his entire life? Either way, his Blortasia experience has stumbled upon some important design principles stemming the desire to create art that pushes the boundaries of consciousness.