The Controller by artist Diva Helmy features various experiments with The Human to Humans Interface (HHsI), a DIY neuroscience interface produced by neuroscientist Greg Gage. The HHsI allows one individual to wirelessly control the arms of mutiple bodies with their brain signal. Especially interested in intimate interactions between humans, the artist emphasizes our ability the evolution of technological fitness as the device forms a physical network of electrical discharge between humans, one that causes the controlled users to mirror the behavior of the controller.
The device consists of TENS unit nerve stimulators, electrodes, radio frequency modules and custom hardware from the team from Backyard Brains to transfer the brain signal of one person to the ulnar nerves in the arms of several individuals. The first human’s EMG signal (neurological activity in muscle cells) is recorded as they move their arm. The value of the signal activates the nerve stimulators via radio frequency which then sends an electrical sensation through the arms of the controlled bodies forcing them to move based on when the first individual sends a brain signal to move their own arm. All arms move simultaneously based on the brain signal of the first individual, the controller. The film presents a collaboration between the controller and the controlled to perform certain tasks. Controlled users were asked to perform an activity such as writing, playing a harmonica and touching the hands of other users. The objects and the way in which their function and products are affected by the interface serve as evidence of this biological experience in which loss of control causes products such as handwriting to change.