The To Be Another Machine

Haven’t we all wished we could creep into somebody else’s head and under their skin? New technology might bring us one step closer, through “The Machine To Be Another”.

Often, it would be about swapping gender – we’re in love, we want to understand this man from Mars or woman from Venus we’re living with, or we’re just plain curious. Gender Swap is an experiment in which neuroscience technique makes users feel themselves as if they were in a different body – the “Machine To Be Another” system.

The system was developed by the Be Another Lab in Barcelona, an interdisciplinary art collective working on telepresence experiments. Mixing low budget digital technology with neuroscientific methods, in collaboration with psychologists, neurologists and research departments, they seek to extend the body and mind. The machine creates a brain illusion through the immersive “Head Mounted Display Oculus Rift” (no, it’s not sci-fi, it’s goggles), and first-person cameras. In order to make it work, both users have to synchronize their movements, meaning they have to constantly agree on every move they make.

The aim is a better understanding of others, but also of oneself trough others, based on the belief that how others see us and how we act and interact with others and in our social environment, is fundamental to our sense of identity and self image, and how we project this self image.

The creators see this system as a tool to conflict resolution and to promoting understanding and empathy, through swapping places for a while. Not only with a person of the opposite sex, but of a different social or cultural background, belief or sexual orientation.

For more information and (technical) details, go here.


By Unni Holtedahl, February 2014

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