In collaboration with
The Fortune Flasher was my final bachelor project for Het Tijdmuseum (The Time Museum), which will open in Delft in the near future. For me, time is something mysterious and surprising. I decided to embrace these two characteristics, and tried to design a "mindfuck", with the focus on time perception. Instead of receiving answers (what a museum is usually about), I wanted the users to leave the museum with more questions than they arrived with.
The mindfuck experience was designed inside a traditional fortune teller's tent. Inside the tent was an interactive crystal ball, which would flash when touched. However, after touching it a couple of times, the crystal ball (or the Fortune Flasher) was able to 'predict' the user, and would flash just before upon getting touched. This is actually only the case mentally, the user only perceives the flash earlier, but in theory both touch and flash happen at the same time.
But how does this work?
The brain is able to calibrate. In this case, when pressing a button (the crystal ball), a light would flash with a delay of 300 ms. After pressing the button a couple of times, your brain will notice the connection between button and flash and calibrates. By calibrating your brain will make it seem as if the push of the button and the appearing of the flash happen at the exact same time: your brain removes the delay. While in reality there still is a delay.
I programmed the crystal ball to remove the delay after a couple of presses, which means that after a couple of presses the push of the button and the appearing of the flash are actually happening at the exact same time. However, your brain has already calibrated the delay of 300 ms to 0 ms, so by removing the delay your brain will think that the flash happens 300 ms before pushing the button. The annoying bit: even when you know about it, your brain will still be fooled.