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Robert Austin

Creating interesting visuals, tip #1

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One of the most compelling aspects of a light and sound session is the point at which new visual patterns seem to leap into existence, then dance through a set of transformations which never seem quite the same each time you experience that session. Rather fractal-like. I've been working on some sessions recently which employ "visual beats", which means that the frequency of one color channel moves through a range slightly offset the other (fixed frequency) channel. Here's a simple example which will work with both Proteus and Procyon, and I'm using a single segment and just the red and green channels to simplify.

Red channel: fixed at 10 Hz, with brightness starting at 170 and ending at 85 (Procyon range).

Green channel: start at 10.1 and move to 10.3 Hz, with brightness starting at 170 and ending at 255.

The actual color brightness ranges are less important than the perception of continual, gradual color change. Try setting the segment length to one minute, and then try varying the green channel frequency values; for example, starting at 9.8 and ending at 10.1.

Pulse waveforms produce crisper visuals, and if using the Proteus be sure that the dual LFO box is checked.

Enjoy the results, and we welcome anyone who wants to post their own favorite visual frequency transitions, sessions etc. After all, this is a form of visual art, as well as a means to alter your consciousness.


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Tags: art, visuals


  1. neuroasis's Avatar
    Excellent stuff Robert! I hope this is the first of many such posts and it will encourage people to share patterns and try their hand at programming. I wonder if there is any theoretical body of knowledge on how these patterns are perceived and synthesized by our visual cortex? I imagine it is encompassed somewhat in the study of Persistence of Vision or optical illusions but I intuitively sense there is much more going on here.
  2. Marisa's Avatar
    Wow, great tips Robert! Thanks!

    Good question Scott, I am reading a book on how the mind gets tricked when seeing visual illusions .. I wonder if there is a relationship. I'll let you know if I find anything. The book, by the way is: Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our everyday deceptions by Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde.
  3. Robert Austin's Avatar
    Check out Heinrich Kluver's book, "Mescal and the mechanisms of hallucination" - and you'll notice that the sorts of visual imagery shown in his book often match those you see during photic stimulation. He called these 'form constants' (see J D Cowan writes about the sorts of patterns which form in the visual cortex (using hallucinogens, but I think this applies to photic stim as well) - you can find some of his work online. One phenomenon I noticed, especially with single color, single frequency stimulation was that the stimulation frequency seemed to slow to a stop for short periods, even though the lights were still running at a fixed frequency. I wonder if those are moments when true 'entrainment' occurs: that is, when my collective brainwave activity was following the lights. From what I've read, this typically will occur for only a few seconds at a time, so mostly we are observing the 'frequency following effect' rather than 'entrainment' per se.
  4. neuroasis's Avatar
    I have noticed these 'stop-gaps' as well. When I know it is really working and I go deep there is a sense of 'expansion'. That is, it is like emerging from the shadows into a large (infinite?) plane (like maybe a really large warehouse) It is just a sense of 'space' opening up. Astral plane some would say. However, it is a definite feeling and crossover that occurs. It took me a long time to be able to maintain this perspective and work in the space. Any others experience this?

    I can attest but wouldn't admit to in a court of law that the imagery of psychedelics is very similar to that of photic stimulation. 'Flashback' triggers are a very interesting topic to me as well.
  5. synaesthesia's Avatar
    Thanks Robert ! This exercise has given me a new appreciation for the subtleties of programming these machines for the purposes of `mind art '. Although I can't say I can see a gradual shift in colour per se - what I have noticed is that I seem to get periodic flushes of much deeper colour where the flashing seems to dwell - its like there is a resonant frequency within the entrainment frequency - it seems to be faster than the difference between the pulse frequency ..I can see perhaps 5 or 6 strong flushes of a deeper green peak and subside over a 1 minute period which is twice as many as I would expect if it were just the resonant frequency between the two channels of colour. When I run both channels at the same frequency i don't really get the effect, and the colour stays more an amber perception. Running the two colours in perfect unison also gives me a more uniform visual field with less visual artifacts. I spent a fair bit of time programming the exercise in two channels to trigger via audiostrobe with Mind Workstation but did not get nearly as vivid effects as programming the machine directly. I also find my old style glasses to produce more vivid visuals than th etri -colour glasses but then I don't have any comparable 2 colour Ganzfield frames to make a direct comparison.

    Just for fun , while using the tri - colour I programmed in a 0.3 HZ blue colour pulse/wash underneath and found it added a whole new ambience to the exercise. Very nice...