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April 18, 2011 - Image 7

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T ih dMonday, April 18, 2011 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'Lost' in retrospect

MiND over matter

it' been 330 days since
"Lost" ended. Three hun-
dred and thirty days since
Jack shut his right eyelid, roll-
ing the closing credits on the
six-year
odyssey that
was at once
invigorating,
irritating,
heart-wrench-
ing and
hilarious. To
say I merely
miss the KAVI
show would SHEKHAR
be a vile PANDEY
understate-
ment - life
without "Lost" feels incomplete,
like Rose without Bernard, Sayid
without his badassery and Rich-
ard Alpert without his eyeliner.
Truthfully, I didn't always
feel this nostalgic about "Lost."
When the show was nearing its
conclusion, it was clear that two
camps were forming among its
viewers: those who were infuri-
ated by the show's resolutions
of several series-long myster-
ies, and those who accepted the
answers with content - and I
was firmly footed in the former.
Throughout its run, I was as
devoted a "Lost" fan as one could
be, but my adoration began to
crumble after the series's ante-
penultimate episode, "Across
the Sea." It was supposed to be
the tell-all, a revelatory hour
that would give light to the most
burning of mysteries, including
the origins of Jacob, the time
travel-inducing frozen wheel
doo-hickey and the pillar of
smoke endearingly dubbed the
"Smoke Monster."
The explanations came, but
they were as disappointing as
getting a can of Dharma Initia-
tive-branded garbanzo beans
for your birthday - everything
was chalked up as "the island
has magical properties," and
that was the end of that. I felt
cheated and betrayed, shot in the
chest by Michael Dawson while
I was getting blankets for my
hot date with Hurley. The grand
" riddles of "Lost" were not riddles
at all, just lazy storytelling by
some bum writers who had been
pulling our tails for the past six

years. It was disillusionment
more than anger, the sadness
you get as a kid when the myth
of Santa Claus is discovered. The
incredible twists and turns of the
"Lost" narrative had seemed too
good to be true, and they were.
But now I've had 330 days
to reflect upon "Lost" and its
legacy, and the question beckons
- was it really ever about the
mysteries?
At the end of his seven-book
series, "The Dark Tower," which
was released over a period of 22
years and sprawled over thou-
sands of pages, Stephen King
knew his readers would be furi-
ous about the conclusion (they
were) so he wrote a note arguing
that it wasn't the destination
that mattered, but the journey.
And the journey of "Lost" was
glorious.
It doesn't matter whether
the Smoke Monster came from
magic, nanotechnology or Leslie
Arzt's charred remains - the
creature scared the living beje-
sus out of the show's plane-crash
survivors, forcing them to band
together and eventually expos-
ing some of the most marvelous
character developments and
relationships in modern fiction.
Benjamin Linus grew from
murderous Machiavellian to
tragic figure yearning for mean-
ing and redemption (see his
tearful breakdown in season
six's "Dr. Linus"). Desmond and
Penny's legendary love story
transcended notions of time
and space (the phone call from
season four's "The Constant").
And Sawyer matured from a
semi-racist rascal to an adorable
romantic and courageous leader
(remember the look on his face
when he came home to Juliet in
season five's "LaFleur"?)
I began to realize how impor-
tant the show had been to my life.
The ritual of watching "Lost"
kept me tight with my family dur-
ing high school - a time when I
was constantly occupied with AP
classes, extracurricular activi-
ties (read: resume padders) and
thinking about colleges. Every
night "Lost" was on, though, my
family and I would drop every-
thing, don our blankets (it gets
cold in the U.P.) and watch "Lost"

with a bowl of strawberries my
dad had cut up for us.
Later, as I made the transi-
tion to college, "Lost" was my
constant. Placed in the frozen
tundra of Baits I, I made my best
friends from freshman year by
watching "Lost," during bonding
nights that featured Dum Dums
and interjections from the awe-
some kid from Singapore who
lived across the hall.
The show's philosophical con-
cepts have also deeply resonated
with me. "Lost" taught me to
"live together, die alone," so now
I try to live with the idea that
it's more important to put the
needs of friends, family and the
community over the needs of the
self. I was also struck early on
by John Locke's iconic mantra,
"everything happens for a rea-
son," which I've used to mentally
power myself through difficult
circumstances.
We have to
go back!
To bring everything full circle,
I've realized how similar Iam to
the protagonist of "Lost," Jack
Shephard (not that I'm compar-
ing myself to Matthew Fox, as
that would be ridiculous - I'm
clearly much more attractive).
The most significant development
in "Lost" was following Jack's
transformation from a man of
science to a man of faith, much
like I grew from a kid obsessed
with believable logic and reason
behind the mysteries of "Lost" to
one who understood the grander
goals the show accomplished.
It's impossible for me to end
this reminiscence with due sig-
nificance. So instead, I'm going
to hand it over to the lyrics of
the awesome YouTube video
"I'll Never Be Lost Again:" "It's
just a show, but feels like losing
a friend / Life goes on, but I'll
never be 'Lost' again."
See you in another life, brotha.
Pandey is hopelessly lost.
To suggest a route, e-mail
kspandey@umich.edu.

New ensemble
makes music with
neurofeedback
By JACOB AXELRAD
Daily Arts Writer
Subaram Raman replaced a
singer with a singer's brain. A
hushed audience watched as he
played Ave Maria on the oboe by
French composer Charles Gou-
nod. Except, he wasn't playing.
The music was coming from a
computer, translating data from
his mind.
Raman, a doctoral student in
musical composition, is one mem-
ber of the MiND Ensemble (Music
in Neural Dimensions), a per-
formance group specializing in
advanced neurofeedback technol-
ogy. In the premiere performance
at the Duderstadt Center this past
weekend, Raman asked the audi-
ence, "What happens when our
musical freedom is limited only
by our ability to think?"
Using what's known as a "brain
hat," neurofeedback technology
monitors one's emotional state
by reading electroencephalogra-
phy (EEG) levels in the brain. By
appropriating this technology, the
MiND Ensemble has managed
to channel EEG data into sound.
In other words, they've created
music with their thoughts.
Ensemble member Robert
Alexander II, a doctoral student
in the Design Science Program,
was initially inspired from a TED
talk by Tan Le, founder of Emotiv.
The Australian company works
with interface technology, which
serves as a basis for the MiND
Ensemble's research.
"I immediately began tests to
see how this technology could be
used for expressive purposes,"
Alexander said.

The interface wasn't originally
intended for musical purposes,
but with collaboration with fellow
Ensemble members and generous
support from the University, Alex-
ander found a way to turn EEG
data into a new kind of instru-
ment, one that flows directly from
the mind to the music itself.
In a historical context, the
MiND Ensemble imitates a long
tradition of musical advancement
by getting at the heart of what it
means to make music: The sound
created is the outward manifesta-
tion of pure thought.
"We've made the process of
going from an idea of composition
to the actual sounds extremely
quick and direct," Alexander said.
"You're just a few clicks away
from being able to experiment."
With knowledge of neurofeed-
back technology's use for music,
additional applications have
been considered, like psychologi-
cal therapy, Alexander said. By
examining what brain states look
and sound like, musical feedback
can be used as a form of thera-
peutic treatment.
Despite innovative methods,
the Ensemble presents itself as a
synthesis between old and new.
According to Raman, the act of
creating music is as old as human-
kind - all that has changed are
the mediums for expression.
"We're able to play acoustic
instruments together with our
brain instruments," said David
Biedenbender, Ensemble member
and doctoral candidate in musical
composition. "It's a very new way
of shapingthe creative process."
The Ensemble's premiere
reflected the differing states
of active and passive thought,
flowing fluidly from live music
and monologues to meditative
pieces where the performer's
level of excitement could liter-
ally be heard in the room. Alex-

ander referred to the structure
as equal parts "musical jam ses-
sions" combined with explana-
tions about the technology. And,
because each piece taps into dif-
ferent emotions, it will never be
the same show twice.
"I can't predict what the emo-
tional experience is going to be,"
Raman said. "I can't predict what
my brain is going to do on a given
night."
Yet more than showcasing
technology, the Ensemble aims
to welcome people into a perfor-
mance of the mind in the most
human sense possible. From
direct dialogue to audience par-
ticipation, attendees were given a
number of scenarios meant to rep-
licate the ways in which we create
music on a daily basis, and how
these moments affect emotion
when it comes to making sound
with our brains.
"Everything that we do has an
accompanying sound," Alexander
said. "We're just taking thoughts
and turning them into sounds.
This is something we do all the
time."
For the MiND Ensemble, its
work is only in the beginning
phase. The software for musi-
cal brain interface, developed by
Alexander himself, is still in early
stages of development. But the
ensemble's members are confi-
dent in the technology's ability to
take its place in history as one of
the many evolutions of music.
The performance concluded
with a musical number by the
entire MiND Ensemble. One by
one, each member stood up, left
his or her instrument behind
and walked downstage until
they formed a line. Everyone
sat in silence as the musicians
performed, just by thinking the
music.
"We're stepping into a new era
in a symbolic sense," Raman said.

MichiganEngineering

COURTESY OF RHYMESAYERS
Worst buskers ever.
Atmosphere moody on'Sign'

The College of Engineering
Celebrates Good Teaching!
We are proud to recognize four outstanding graduate student instructors
for their commitment to excellence in engineering education. Each 2011
College of Engineering Outstanding Student Instructor Award winner
receives an honorarium.
2011. COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING OUTSTANDING
STUDENT INSTRUCTOR AWARD WINNERS

By CASSIE BALFOUR
DailyArts Writer
There is athick layer of dreamy
melancholy hovering over The
Family Sign, the latest release
from Minne-
sota dream-
team rap duo
Atmosphere. Atmosphere
The album is
dripping with The Family
silky pianos, Sign
while Slug (the
lyricist half of Rhymesayers
the group), con-
tinues illuminating the darkest
alleyways with his uncomfort-
ably truthful rapping. The album
is slick, but the tight production
doesn't undermine Slug's dark
storytelling as he narrates the
lives of abused women, drug
users and men huddled under
overpasses with cigarettes dan-
gling from their lips.
The opening track, "My Key,"
begins with a lazy piano as atmo-
spheric guitar chord progressions
accompany Slug, who sings and
raps in turn like he's recovering
from a blurry hangover. He raps,

"I stole
on the:
to the
the albs
openeri
in the li
from be
ominou
rest of t
"The
explicit
husban
front of
the key
RI
wit]
music t,
straight
can't h
making
tively w
lack of:
of this t
the list,
demand
seems li

paint to write your name ence in tears by the end of the
stone wall," which speaks tracks rather than just boppin'
dysfunctional theme of around on the way to class.
um. The sonically layered "Who I'll Never Be" has some
inspires a mounting dread uncharacteristically delicate
stener as the guitars shift Spanish guitars, which is fitting
ing dream-like to slightly for a track that has Slug mooning
s, setting the tone for the after a woman singing mourn-
he rich, dark record. fully by herself. The track isn't a
Last to Say" has Slug standout in terms of production
ly narrating an abusive - it seems shallow compared to
d who beats up his wife in other more layered cuts - but
'his son. The song applies it has a haunting, confessional
'board sparingly and the quality as Slug dwells on his
shortcomings and the universal
pain of unrequited love.
Though Atmosphere in past
years has been known for playful
h good vibes, lyricism and crisp production, as
time wears on, the duo has shift-
ed toward music that is deeper
in tone, with moody material
akes a backseat to the raw, that draws on the tough reali-
forward lyrics - "You ties of the underworld. On the
old hands when they're track "If You Can Save Me Now,"
fists." The track is rela- Slug says, "I'll try not to weigh
weak and suffers from a you down," and even though he
depth, but the bare bones doesn't keep his promise, the
ragic story will still make album will stay with listeners as
ener uneasy. Atmosphere its haunting narratives reverber-
Is a lot, and sometimes it ate long after the last moody gui-
ike the duo wants its audi- tar chord has faded.

Jennifer Dibbern
Materials Science and Engineering
MSE 250

W. Ethan Eagle
Aerospace Engineering
AERO 305

Kyla McMullen
Computer Science and Engineering
ENGR 101

Johnny Chung-Yin Tsai
Mechanical Engineering
ME 335 & ME 320

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