The Crown Family Theme comes from Black Lung’s 2019 album “The Great Manipulator” (Metropolis Records). We’re big fans of David Thrussell’s work, whether it’s Snog, Black Lung or any of his other monikers, new work from Thrussell is always welcome in these parts. He’s done a couple of Cyclic Selects for us over the years, we’re he delved into obscurities in Johnny Cash’s back catalogue and demonstrated his undying love of hillbilly music.
We don’t normally do this, but we’re going to give you the full press release (it’s worth it). The story is as follows:
“In April of 2018, David Thrussell, along with several other artists, was invited by neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitachi of Tokyo University to take part in a groundbreaking experiment. A thought-decoding research program they had developed, dubbed “deep image reconstruction”, used a reconstruction algorithm capable of “decoding” a “hierarchy” of complex visual information from human brain activity, such as colors and shapes. The team’s algorithm optimized the pixels of the Thrussell’s thought patterns whilst he was asleep, in combination with a multiple-layered deep neural network (DNN), that simulates the same processes that occurs when a human brain perceives an image, so that the final image output comes close to resembling Thrussell’s actual dreams.
Thrussell began by consuming 2 tbs of organic Apple Cider Vinegar which aids in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical that carries messages between brain cells. Most dreams occur during rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, when acetylcholine levels are high, as they also are during alert wakefulness.
The team used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology to gather brain activity data from Thrussell as he entered the various stages of sleep. This raw data was then filtered through a deep neural network so that the decoding process would occur in a way that more closely matched what happens in the human brain when it perceives something.
“We believe that a deep neural network is good proxy for the brain’s hierarchical processing,” said Kamitachi. “By using a DNN we can extract information from different levels of the brain’s visual system.”
This filtered data then acts as a template of sorts. The team then used a “decoder” — which is trained on fMRI data taken while Thrussell was dreaming — to repeatedly refine the decoded information further in hundreds of calculated passes, so that the video will come closer to the original, pixel by pixel.
To create more realistic-looking images, the results were further enhanced with a deep generator network (DGN), an algorithm that better captures common dominant features (such as eyes, faces and textural patterns), which will then offer visual clues to what that particular object might be.
Using systems of attenuated encephologram feedback, the team also had great success with its objectives of mood enhancement and recalibration – at times being able ‘play’ the test subject’s emotional state much like the ‘Penfield Mood Organ’ of notable speculative-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
Thrussell recalled that during the NREM stage of his sleep his experiences of hypnagogic hallucinations included those of a “light tunnel” and “falling through colour”. The REM stage was described as “colourless geometry… no doubt I was thinking about the research lab and my immediate surroundings”. Thrussell described his sleep overall as “mostly peaceful” with dreams of “swimming in a colourful place with my family” but that he had later felt “slightly uneasy… a mild sense of omnipresent dread and captivity.”
You can find The Great Manipulator here.