We've all dreamed of flying. Soaring through the air Superman-style: no wings, jet fuel, stewardess, or tiny pack of peanuts required. If you could turn those dreams into a reality, would you? Undoubtedly, yes.
But if your cruising altitude were determined by how hard you concentrate, how much faith do you have that you wouldn't get distracted and plummet back to Earth?
While they haven't cracked the code of levitation just yet, a team of people led by Yehuda Duenyas, a Brooklyn-based artist and former student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have devised an apparatus that carries users through the air via mind control. An RPI press release explains that the system pairs a brainwave-reading EEG headset with 3D theatrical rigging to "fly" participants around a room.
One of the system's first applications, The Ascent, is an installation currently in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Participants in the experience are challenged to ascend 30 feet in the air via mind control. There's a catch, though, explains Duenyas on his blog:
As riders ascend via the power of their concentration, the sound and lights [increasingly] create a storm of stimuli that conspires to distract them from achieving their goal: levitating into “transcendence" ... The paradox is that in order to succeed, the riders need to release their desire for achievement, and contend with what might be the biggest obstacle: themselves.
According to Science Daily, success in The Ascent is tied to mental relaxation. "If you close your eyes and take a deep breath, [certain types of brain] processing power decrease," said Duenyas in the article. "When it decreases below a certain threshold, that is the trigger for you to elevate."
PHOTOS of participants in The Ascent, below. WATCH behind-the-scenes footage of The Ascent, above.
NOTE: This piece has been updated to reflect technical features of The Ascent which have been altered, and the professional status of Mr. Duenyas.