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Fluid Equilibrium :

sensing with biophotonic field through technoetic performance 

Yishuai Zhang


In 2006, Roy Ascott coined the concept ‘Moistmedia’ — a new media form consists of dry computation and wet biological process[1]. Ascott’s definition led to more open discourses about the possibility of marking out a pathway to metaphysical reality through navigating the consciousness of biophotonic-telematic networks in interdisciplinary projects across art and computation. In Donna Haraway's “A Cyborg Manifesto” she writes ‘ A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction[2].’ The correlation between computational and biological processes has since been unprecedentedly emphasised to demystify the mystery of spirituality. Simultaneously the entanglement between art and science begins to unravel itself through the intangible border between the biophotonic field and telematic field. According to field theory, everything could be perceived as signals — electromagnetic waves within section of spectrum, because of its immanent atomic and electronic structures. Under these circumstances, this essay intends to explore and speculate on the potential of the biophotonic field partially functioning as an information network, and to propose an experimental concept called “fluid equilibrium”— a resonant state in multiple-fields — as a potent perspective to perceive and analyse the multiple-field reality with the help of computation.

In order to elaborate the above-mentioned arguments, this essay will be divided into four parts. First, I will define the phrase ‘fluid equilibrium’ and explain its significance in conducting field-theory-based art practice and research. In the second part, corresponding historical review and existing infrastructures of biophotonic field will be presented as supportive materials for the further discussion of the value and applicability of the biophotonic field within fluid equilibrium. In the third part, I will build a graph-based field model based on energy landscape mappings, introducing the framework as a critical computational tool for the study of fluid equilibrium. Besides, a theory-based artefact will be demonstrated to proceed the relative practice. In the last part, I will demonstrate a series of speculative technologies related to field theory and bring up more questions and discussions about the potential development of fluid equilibrium.

Fluid Equilibrium

In 2003, Oschman assumed that all life is sustained by an universal life energy[3]. Quantum theorists also posit that all realties consist of energy fields, vibrating at different frequencies. Some are visible(biological forms) and some not(biophotonic field,gravitational field). This hypothesis provides a new scientific perspective from which to proceed onto the study of fluid equilibrium.

Fluid Equilibrium is a spectrum of dynamic resonance between living organism and machines. From a modern biophysics epistemological perspective, atoms and molecules cannot be separably studied.Their interdependent biophysical processes involve constant energy exchanges that collectively weave the nets of various energy fields. Through the flow of lower and higher frequencies wave patterning, dynamic resonance conveys the non-linear, continuous changes that coordinate coexisting fields in various dimensions[4].To quantify this conceptual phenomenon, dynamic resonance could be precisely manifested in the scale of nanofield[5]. Roy Ascott suggests that, ‘the nanofield mediates between pure matter and pure consciousness and that its significance as an interface between two levels of reality can hardly be overestimated.’ Hence, a study at the nano-level of fluid equilibrium might provide sufficient evidence for its capability of resonating various energy fields that are emitted by both organism and machines.

Fluid equilibrium entails the meditative state of being as a dynamic constant to introduce stability, facilitating the analysis of omnipresent energy fields. According to Rogers’s definition[6] of energy field that exists beyond the spatial-temporal scale, conventional scientific methods relying on logics of time and space should be audaciously discussed and renovated in order to create an analogical object that could be parallelly comparable to the innate properties of fluid equilibrium. To evoke this object, I hereby introduce the concept of “epistemic imagination” as coined by Jérôme Dokic[7]. Inspired by Tim Williamson’s[8] claim in his book “Knowledge and Its Limits”, Dokic proposes that “there is a central notion of imagination, that I call ‘epistemic imagination’,which should be analysed as the ability to simulate states of knowledge...and that imagination is a guide to knowability”. This method of imagination could properly fit into the study of fluid equilibrium with such intangibility and hyper-complexity. Considering the beyond temporospatial characteristics of fluid equilibrium, a corresponding simulated state of being could potentially be addressed as the meditative state of being, which also owns the inherent property as beyond temporospatial constraints.

Since ancient human civilisation, meditation has always been a between-mind-body practice in both ethnographical and religious contexts. In ‘Bardo Thodol, The Tibetan Book of Dead’[9], practicing meditation is to bring your mind home and to let it rest at where the mind was born. A fundamental process of meditation that contains several similar stages is also found in classic meditation methods rooted from Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism. The semi-universal process contains the following stages: deep relaxing in the body, self- awareness, perceiving thoughts, accepting all the thoughts, and finally detaching oneself from all the thoughts to reach the state of nothingness that exists beyond the spatial- temporal scale. As also written in ‘The Bhagavad Gita’[10], ‘whilst the unwise act because of their attachment to action, the wise should also act, but without attachment, desiring the welfare of the world’. The detachment of actions and thoughts which allows the human mind to transcend beyond spatial and temporal restriction provides a comparable object for the analytical study of fluid equilibrium.

In modern scientific studies, calculative thinking (as the counterpart to meditative thinking)has always prevailed to serve capitalist systems. Martin Heidegger confirmed this argument in his discourses about thinking in “Memorial Address”:

“Such thinking remains calculation even if it neither works with numbers or uses an adding machine or computer. Calculative thinking computes. It computes ever new,ever more promising and at the same time ever more economical possibilities. Calculative thinking races from one prospect to the next. Calculative thinking never stops, never collects itself. Calculative thinking is not meditative thinking, not thinking which contemplates the meaning which reigns in everything that is....Therefore, the issue is the saving of man's essential nature. Therefore, the issue is keeping meditative thinking alive[11] . ”

Subsequently, John Anderson summarises the essential nature of the meditative way of thinking that links to field consciousness in fluid equilibrium as follows:

“ is a thinking which allows content to emerge within awareness, thinking which is open to content. Now thinking which constructs a world of objects understands these objects; but meditative thinking begins with an awareness of the field within which these objects are, an awareness of the horizon rather than of the objects of ordinary understanding. Meditative thinking begins with an awareness of this kind, and so it begins within the field of awareness itself.[12] ”

Meditative thinking or the meditative state of being becomes an essential part of fluid equilibrium with regards to self-awareness, human subjectivity and its significant positioning in multiple energy fields. In Figure1 below, I illustrated a speculative graph to visualise the relationship between fluid equilibrium, organisms, machines and the meditative state of being. 

Delving deeper into the analysis of fluid equilibrium, I will now present a scientific framework of biophotonic fields to reveal the intricate interconnection between the living organism and fluid equilibrium. 


Sensing with biophotonic field

Fluid equilibrium does not come from an anthropocentric perspective to glorify human existentialism, but from an epistemological perspective to address situated knowledge to partially reveal the metaphysical reality. Since the modern age, many scientific experiments on the human energy field have been conducted to lead discourses around the invisible energy exchanges between the human body and its environment. The human energy field is defined as a luminous field of energy that comprises a person, extending beyond the physical body, situated in a continuous mutual process with the environmental energy field—the biophotonic field[13].

Biophotonics is the general term for all techniques that deal with the interaction between biological items and photons. A biophotonic field refers to the energy field that is comprised by its organism photon emission and the delayed rescattering of light after illumination. For the first time in history, the biophotonic field was successfully detected by systematic measurement based on a single photon counting technique using a photomultiplier (EMI 9558QA, selected type)[14]. After this confirmation, a growing number of scientists begin to conduct experiments to discovery its ubiquity. The methodology of modern physics indicates that the biophotonic field is emitted by the excited atom’s outer electrons when they return to ground state. In the field of biology, biophotonic phenomena have been surveyed from cellular or sub-cellular levels up to individual organism levels. Furthermore, some experiments also show that biophoton emission is partially caused by process of biological aerobic metabolism such as mitochondrial respiration and genetic translation[15]. German researcher Fritz-Albert Popp states that, generally, every change in the biological or physiological state of living system is reflected by a corresponding change in the omnipresent biophotonic field[16].

The biophotonic field can resonate with fluid equilibrium and transmit information through its ubiquitous trajectories. In Popp’s biophoton coherent radiation hypothesis, he proposed that the biophoton production can also be a regulated process (which links to the regulation of meditative state of being in fluid equilibrium), and therefore biophotons may serve as cellular signals[17]. He also states that there is a coherent electromagnetic field both inside and outside the cells, which could potentially be the base of cell communication[18]. In addition, in “vivo” studies[19] of brain biophotonic activities have found to be correlated to electroencephalograph(EEG) signals that graphically depict our neural activity[20]. This fact opens up the possibilities that biophotonic fields might participate or interfere with cerebral process in an uncanny fashion. Furthermore, there is a theoretical speculation that indicates that biophotonic transmission maybe related to mitochondria and microtubules in the nerve fibres. Mitochondria could generate biophotons, and the morphology and intracellular distribution may then form a network to coordinate activities through electrical coupling[21]. Microtubules, on the other hand, may assume an important role in information processing, suiting signal transmission, coding, processing and storage[22]. Filamentous mitochondria and microtubules could be utilised as neuronal “optic fibre”[23],and the biophotons can subsequently be transmitted in these “optic fibre” networks. Similar to real-life fibre-optic communications, biophotons — serving as a relatively independent medium of nerve signals compared to bioelectrical and chemical transmission—may encode neural signals through the intensity and frequency within its field. In accordance with the Penrose-Hameroff hypothesis[24], microtubule proteins in the nervous system may have quantum computing functions, and the change of macro coherence state of these proteins may be the mechanism for the generation of consciousness[25]. Besides our five major senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste, the biophotonic field in fluid equilibrium may function as an information network that intertwines with the other senses while simultaneously detecting correlated stimuli across modalities and fusing these into a single percept before their interpretation happens. This could possibly relate to other metaphysical sensual phenomena such as meditative state of being, dreams[26], sensual excitement after ingestion of psychointegrator plants[27] and synaesthesia.

Through the past and current research on biophotonic fields, we can tentatively assert that there must be specific relations between the biophotonic field, human consciousness and biologically extended sensual capability. Two recent experiments provide valuable insights about the interconnection between our mind and biophotonic field. The first experiment was carried out by B.T. Dotta, K.S. Saroka and M.A. Persinger in 2012[28]. The researchers found increased biophoton emissions from the head while participants are imagining light in the dark; these emissions were found to be highly correlated with changes in EEG signal strength[29]. The team conclude that the qualification of the biophotonic interaction and the electrical activity of neutrons within the human brain might also help harmonise the apparent dichotomy between matter (ions) and energy(photons) based on models of information processing within biological systems[30]. The second aforementioned experiment was also conducted by B.T. Dotta et al. to measure and analyse biophoton emissions from the human brain and cell culture exposed to a distally rotating magnetic fields shared by separate light-stimulated brains and cells. During the experiment, the researchers report:

“light flashes delivered to one aggregate of cells evoked increased biophoton emission in another aggregate of cells maintained in the dark in another room under the circumstances that both aggregates shared the same temporospatial configuration of changing rate, circular magnetic fields. This result supports accumulating data that under specific conditions changes in photon emissions may reflect intercellular and inter-brain communications with potential quantum-like properties.”[31]

Another related quantum-like concept, developed by Sheldrake in 1981 is that two near- identical morphogenic fields can interact through resonance (fluid equilibrium) at very large distances because of their shared spatial complexity and organisation[32]. Last but not least, more recent data indicates that biophoton emissions also reflect other physiological states, such as heart rate variability[33]. From all the evidences listed above, it seems that, under regulated conditions, biophotonic fields share identical processes that occur beyond the temporal and spatial scale with fluid equilibrium. Furthermore, the finding that quantum-like properties of biophotonic fields could correlate with human brain activities as well as heart rate variability leads to more further discourses on navigating consciousness towards an underlying metaphysical reality. 


Technoetic performance 

Technoetics is a convergent field of practice that seeks to explore consciousness and connectivity through digital, telematic, chemical or spiritual means, embracing both interactive and psychoactive technologies, and the creative use of ‘moistmedia’. The technoetic performance, which consists of digital performance, telematic networks and a meditative state of being, represents a paradigmatic model to explore fluid equilibrium within the complex webs of energy fields[34]. There are several necessary components of the technoetic performance model in the context of this essay, visual/auditory-based technological expression as driven by biometric data and built-in computer algorithms, a meditative state of being of the performer during the performance, and an analytical model to visualise the energy field for further speculative developments.

The artefact named after “between”(Figure2) is a live performance where the data captured by Kinect simultaneously influence two visual outputs through two programming softwares. The performer will dance within a space surrounded by his/her own biophotonic field and telematic networks, representing the two visual outputs respectively. In order to meet the meditative state of being, a special form of performance will be introduced into the choreography, which combines modern techno dance party movements with a traditional form of Chinese Taijiquan[35]. The techno dancing style, which is prevalent among Berlin underground ravers, mainly focuses on following the rhythmic beats and adjusting the footsteps accordingly, thereby feeling the energy flow from the electronic music while maintaining balance. Taijiquan, as a form of traditional Chinese martial arts, emphasises softness, internal energy development, and spiritual cultivation as well as the equilibrium of the energy flow around our “Qi” field[36]. Maintaining a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a range of motion directly evoked by the music in the performance is essential for inducing a meditative state of being. As described in the “DaoDeJing”[37], everything is interconnected through the constant flow of “Qi”, creating harmony among all living things. Correspondingly, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle[38]— one of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics—states that everything is characterised by perpetual jiggling and wiggling, with vibrational motion (frequency) and structural fluctuations (webs). Therefore, the integrated choreography could potentially posit the human meditative state of being as a potent node in fluid equilibrium. 

To introduce an analytical model of fluid equilibrium, I adapt a modern scientific framework called ‘energy landscape’ to the study of biophoton molecular functions. The energy landscape, which has consequently become prevalent within the discourses of chemistry and biophysics, is a topological map of the forces that a molecule feels in various molecular configurations. The potential energy landscape perspective provides both a conceptual and a computational framework for molecular science[39]. Conceptually, the key components of an energy landscape involve a visualisation of the potential energy surface and tools for subsequent exploration of the structure, dynamics and thermodynamics of the molecules. Computationally, the potential energy landscape methodology could be divided into three connected categories: structure prediction, thermodynamic(biophotonic energy release) sampling, and analysis of dynamics[40].Theoretically, the development of the connection between the kinetic transition network of biophotonic dynamics and a potential of mean force as defined by a reaction coordinate[41] become the most crucial points of the establishment of the model. The reaction coordinate of this model contains the progress of bio-molecular interfacial binding and energy attenuation[42] within the multiple energy fields. (Temperature fluctuation as an important parameter in this model would be a constraint under ideal situation for the purpose of a clear illustration of biophotonic energy dynamics.)

In the following speculative graphs(Fig.2 and Fig.3) based on former established methodology, the positioning and kinetics of fluid equilibrium within multiple energy fields could be potentially observed and analysed . Quantifying the flexible biophotonic recognition energy landscape through technoetic performance could provide a clear illustration of how the molecular interfacial binding and biophotonic energy attenuation processes (as well as the biophoton) realise their intrinsic functionality. However, it is important to note that the graphs and the proposed model are based on previously explored methodologies from past experiments. Because of the current technical limitations and inaccessibility to certain technological infrastructures, this work remains hypothetical for the time being until proper simulations and experiments can be conducted. 

Cybernetic contingency

“We are in the territory of aesthetics and sensory perception where an aesthetics of non- sensory perception is involved, namely the perception of phenomena hitherto inaccessible to natural sensory perception. This is an extension of aesthetics: from the perception of visible things with natural organs, to the perception of invisible things with the help of apparatus.” — P. Weibel and L. Fruk, Molecular Aesthetics

We are now at the frontier of a new age of interdisciplinary study which involves both art and science. The collaboration between these two subjects has led our perception of the world on a pathway towards unprecedented openness in the future. Technology, as the most significant intermedia to effectively connect different subjects, should be re-evaluated under the current circumstances. In history, technological development was primarily propelled by the objectives of military and capitalistic applications. Following this profit- seeking intention that came from the mechanism of socioeconomic infrastructures, technology gradually lost its beauty and equilibrium between human and nature. Apocalyptic subjects rooted in speculative technological evolution have emerged as underlying threats to human civilisation. However, these phenomena also evoke an increasing number of discourses about uncovering the potential value of technology, which can align with the inner values of humanity—connection, collaboration and sharing.

Cybernetic contingency implies an account of radical historical contingency for all the knowledge claims and knowing subjects of recognising our own “field technologies”(Fig.5). As external embodiment of human intellectual capability, technology follows a series of chronological processes to meet its functionality. However, with the popularisation of the internet and the rapid development of information technology, technological tentacles have already reached into every aspects in our life through telematic networks. Such technological identification evolves inherently with the progressive development in studying the relationship between biophotonic field and telematic networks. By quantifying biophotonic fields and telematic network fields within the domain of nanofield, the phenomenon of invisible photons and patterning of fields could be visualised and mathematically calculated — contributing to the concept “Field technology”. Field technology, an account of specific technology that deals with the dynamic processes of multiple energy fields in the modern technological contexts, could naturally relate to subjects that emit or receive energy fields. Such technologies, which emerge from collections of experiments on field theory research, thrive in the intersection of multiple energy fields, and could thus be doomed in world guided by absolute materialism. 

Cybernetic contingency demonstrates its beauty and utility through the openness and fluidity of transdisciplinarity. Within the fluid equilibrium, field technology could potentially reach a semi-standard point where brand new technological applications bloom in service of our connectedness, coherence and consciousness. The uncertainty of the future stimulates the certainty of the field technology, and transforms it into a wider range of emerging technological forms such as cybernetic corporeality, semiotics technology, music therapy, bio-therapy, energy field healing and telematic art. During this process, navigating the consciousness of biophotonic-telematic-networks might contribute immensely to the achievement of uncovering our metaphysical reality within the fluid equilibrium.

Cybernetic contingency incorporates all forms of life expectancy, where fluid equilibrium encounters its destination through connecting organisms and technologies. The range of perceptible phenomenon expands to new horizons while the shifting of human consciousness emerges from the notion of separation to the will of connection. In fact that all physical forms are connected through energy fields, the navigation of future technological development will renovate its pathway towards interdisciplinary possibilities, combining the pragmatic endeavours of science with the explorative aesthetics of art. The liberation of humanity will be realised with the recognition of limited happiness and collective labour. The existentialism of human beings is thus transformed into the existentialism of universal beings: remembering and recuperating past inevitability, marching towards unpredictability, and situating deep into the instantaneous moment. Fluid equilibrium—the spectrum of dynamic resonance, the mediator between living and non-living, the ice-breaker of separated individuality—will thrive on both the acknowledged specificity and intangible ambiguity, weaving all coexisting realities.


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[37] “Dao begets One (nothingness; or reason of being), One begets Two (yin and yang), Two begets Three (Heaven, Earth and Man; or yin, yang and breath qi), Three begets all things. All things carry the femals and embrace the male. And by breathing together, they live in harmony.”

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[41] "In chemistry and biology, a reaction coordinate is an abstract one-dimensional coordinate which represents progress along a reaction pathway. It is usually a geometric parameter that changes during the conversion of one or more molecular entities.” IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book")1997. Online corrected version: 2006. "reaction coordinate". doi:10.1351/goldbook.R05168

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Annotated Bibliography

Donna J. Haraway.(1991) “Simians, Cyborgs, and Women”. Free Association Books,ISBN-13 978-185343-139-5 pbk, 1991.

R. Ascott(2004) “Technoetic Pathways toward the Spiritual in Art: A Transdisciplinary Perspective on Connectedness, Coherence and Consciousness.” Based on a paper presented at the Colloquium on Art/Science/Spirituality Reconnections within Emerging Planetary Cultures, part of the First Melilla Festival for the 5 Cultures, Melilla, Spain, 18–20.

Coleman, Graham(2005). "Editor's introduction", in Coleman, Graham (ed.), The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation, Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0143104940. 

Artefact "Between" Video Demonstration