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An Excursion into the Overmind
Interview with Ken Adams By Dee

I met up with Ken Adams in Austin, Texas, when he was a panellist along with Douglas Rushkoff, R.U.Sirius, Don Webb, Erik Davies and Heath Rezabek, discussing the role of the computer and other new technologies in the spirituality of the future. Ken is a producer and director from Rose X Media House, who works on the production of digital science fiction films and music videos and is a regular contributor to Mondo 2000 magazine.

I discussed with him here Rose X's two latest productions "Alien Dreamtime" and "Strange Attractor", both featuring Terence McKenna, the founder of Novelty Theory (a branch of fractal dynamics), who spent the last 25 years in the study of ontological foundations of Shamanism and the ethno-pharmacology of spiritual transformation. McKenna is the writer of numerous works on psychedelic drugs and psychotropic plants such as "The Invisible Landscape" and "Psilocybin: The Magic Mushrooms Grower's Guide", "Food of the Gods", "The Archaic Revival", "Trialogues at the Edge of the West", and "True Hallucinations".

ALIEN DREAMTIME

Can you give me a brief insight into this film, how it was made and how successful it was?

ALIEN DREAMTIME was an experiment at developing public experiences that could build on and elaborate the psychedelic imagination in a public setting. ROSE X conceived of and produced the event as well as providing live video mixing during the performance. TERENCE MCKENNA anchored the thing with his spoken word and SPACE TIME CONTINUUM contributed extemporaneous music along with STEPHEN KENT's digeridoo.

We had no rehearsals and we were forced to take the stage earlier than planned because the San Francisco police were trying to force down the show. The fact that it was done at all, let alone on two consecutive nights at an illegal rave, is surprising. That the project survived post-production and made it into international distribution is almost astonishing.

Was it made totally in computer graphics?

The visuals were mixed in real time using an AMIGA computer with a video TOASTER board and was composed of live video, graphics, and pre-constructed collages. The source material included work done on SILICON GRAPHICS machines from NASA and digital compositing done on a MACINTOSH.

Was there a message or was it predominantly a visual orgy?

It was both. The 'message' was about eroticized intelligence and the relationship of the human species to the awesome and mysterious. Orgies of all sorts are involved with this approach to reality. ROSE X is devoted to the elaboration of alternative visions and the pursuit of PARADISE. We are TECHNOANIMIST that regard our computers as DREAM ALLIES of a new kind, but with ancient precedents.

Did Terence write the text he spoke?

We asked TERENCE to speak on three subjects:
1) the ARCHAIC REVIVAL,
2) ALIEN LOVE, and
3) TIMEWAVE ZERO.
Since we had been working together for a couple of years, the material was familiar to us and we were able to follow along and improvise with each other and the musicians in a form of conceptual jazz.

Was the music by Space Time Continuum and STEPHEN KENT written especially for the film?

JONAH SHARP (SPACE TIME) was one of the first DJ's in San Francisco to incorporate his own music into his sets. He drew a lot from his unreleased material and improvised the rest. STEPHEN is a master musician that can play along with just about anyone or anything. Although they had never performed or even rehearsed together before, they were completely in sync. It's a tribute to a great deal of natural talent on their parts and our common sense of adventure.

Did the film provide an interaction / backdrop for Terence's Fractal Cult of the Unspeakable Think Along Tour and its discussion on the symbiotic relationship with something that disguises itself as an extra-terrestrial invasion so as not to alarm us?

We are not at liberty to discuss this.

Did it represent a sort of forward escape into psychedelic cyberspace?

Most of the virtual reality pioneers we have met are serious psychedelic explorers. People forget that this is powerful neuro-technology we are using and that nothing could be more completely IMMERSIVE and VIRTUAL than a full blown excursion into the OVERMIND with psychedelic techniques. In this sense, tripping has always been both a model and a source of motivation for the computer visionaries and artists that are creating cyberspace from the raw stuff of their collective experience.

Did the film deal predominantly with the question of hard wiring the soul to hot wire the UFO within ? Was it more about psychedelics and Terence's interest in Shamanism and the exploration of the consciousness or does it deal more with virtual reality, or the transformative power of magic?

The film dealt, to degree with each of these subjects and their cataclysmic convergence during our own lifetimes.

Was it post New Age hallucinatory techno or dealing more with the attempt at illuminating the Mild Dark Ages that Terence predicts are on the Horizon? Alternatively, was it aimed at providing a look into a global future fuelled by a kind of alchemical distillation of our experiences which will open up our minds and consciousness?

Part of the hope of our time is that out of this post-modern flood of ideas, images, sounds, delusions, and revelations a new and inconceivable ethos will arise, a better way to live and LOVE. Not coming from one tribe or ideology, but from a unique fusion of our human spirit with the soul of our planet and even the cosmos. Whatever happens, a social alchemy seems unavoidable, if we are to continue into a more liveable future. People today have access to more powerful and exotic psychoactives than any shaman in the history of the planet. And most of us have no guiding tradition or elders to help us along the way. It is a path of ecstasy and joy to be sure, but it is also a way requiring HEART and COURAGE. As much as anything, ALIEN DREAMTIME was a gift back to the underground techno/rave community that did so much to revitalize psychedelic with their enthusiasm and dreams.

PRESS COMMENTS ABOUT ALIEN DREAMTIME:

Billboard Magazine: "(Alien Dreamtime)... would turn even Timothy Leary straight..."

Howard Rheingold in Whole Earth Review: "Combining entertaining (for once) computer graphics, this video is a phenethylamine-drenched, techno-primitive extravaganza, par excellence."

Brain Mind Bulletin: "They said it couldn't be done, but someone has almost done it. Alien Dreamtime comes closer to replicating a psychedelic experience than anything else we've ever seen. The rapidly flowing images create a kind of synesthesia that pulls the brain right into hyperspace. Rose X's imagery and McKenna's provocative ideas add another dimension to the genre of experimental videos.

STRANGE ATTRACTOR

Is there a main content theme or is it predominantly a science fiction dreamscape?

STRANGE ATTRACTOR is a science fiction film which presents a psychedelic inversion of the ADAM & EVE story.
"Strange Attractors" attract exotic, illegal, or inaccessible data streams from a WORLD WIDE WEB of the near future. They synchronize their nervous systems with their computers using trance-inducing techniques and they usually work as couples.
The story is presented as a series of image and data packets from a digital dream diary and concerns a woman's search for and seduction of her lover. He has been stranded on-line for days and has forgotten where his body is.

I understand that the technology used is cutting edge, are there any unique effects being used?

What is unique about STRANGE ATTRACTOR is that it is using cutting edge graphic techniques to convey a complex and subtle story in a way that would be inconceivable with conventional film technology. As artists, we are more indebted to radical comic design, rave invitations, and light shows than to contemporary film models. We are deliberately trying to develop a new visual language, using computers, that will have the richness and energy needed to convey unordinary states of awareness, especially lucid dreaming and tripping.

What is Terence's role?

TERENCE plays the role of a neuro-botanist that has been working with an obscure group in the Middle East to develop BOTANICAL SIMULATIONS for use on-line that evoke psychedelic and entheogenic experiences using subliminal light and sound patterns. He role is essentially an elaboration of his real life and persona, which is true of every character in the movie.

Does Lady Miss Kier sing in the film or act with her music in the soundbed? Was it her first acting role?

LADY KIER graciously appears as herself in the film and as sister of the story's protagonist. As well as her acting, she contributed performance footage from her post-DEEE*LITE solo gigs. She embodies an urban fairy with a conspicuous attitude.

Is the entire story played out on the Web?

Since STRANGE ATTRACTOR is a dream diary, the issue of "point of view" remains somewhat ambiguous, as does the relationship between reality and dreaming. The story is presented as a series of datastreams sent to a woman while she is conducting a moon ritual from a lucid dreamstate.

Is it still planned for release in September to coincide with the launch of Lady Miss Kier's new album?

We expect to finish STRANGE ATTRACTOR by this October and schedules are anything but certain in the music and film industries.

The soundbed/music is by A Guy Called Gerald, any more details?

We were introduced to GERALD by KIER. He has proven a perfect fit for our project. His songs carry oceans of tenderness and sensual delight, all supported within high-tension rhythm nets and ever surprising jewel-moments.

A guy called Gerald has had a revival in 1997, in Europe at least, any thoughts on this?

He is a pioneer whose most important work is still to come. We would love to work on a project from scratch with him because he has such similar sentiments. BLACK SECRET TECHNOLOGY is an ongoing revelation not in need of revival.

How does your film making interface with the future of techno / electronica?

ROSE X is using the same techniques explored by techno / electronica and applying them to film. To be present and active at the birth of a new cinema is an amazing opportunity. The psychedelic imagination is on the rise and computers are providing the sounds and images for the journey. Are you EXPERIENCED?

PRESS COMMENTS ABOUT STRANGE ATTRACTOR:

R.U. Sirius in Wired: "... transcends the historical and the anthropological... ROSE X's two person team - Britt Welin and Ken Adams - stretch psychedelic computer effects to new limits."

Mondo 2000: "Look for the up-coming Rose X feature length production "Strange Attractor" - an erotic technoshamanistic sci-fi video exploring the Public Simulation Xchange and featuring Terence McKenna as a neurochemist."

Doug Rushkoff in Cyberia, his book chronicling the San Francisco techno culture underground: "Rose X's current project, a feature-length video called "Strange Attractor", emerges out of their interest in the relationship of technology to organic interdimensional consciousness. In the story, a reversal of the Adam and Eve myth, Rose is a "strange attractor" - a person who, through lucid dreaming, can acces the vast network of artificial environments normally entered through computers or virtual reality. Eve was right, and had Adam followed his own impulses rather than God's orders, everything would have been okay."

PRESS COMMENTS ABOUT ROSE X:

Mondo 2000: "Strange but efficient organic forms appearing and disappearing... resemble visions before sleep before two worlds touch. This is computer video signal compression. ...spiralling vortexes coming from video black, video void, fractaling patterns flowing into your reptilian stem mesmerizing, eroticizing... Like peyote, like psilocybin, silicon has songs to sing, stories to tell you won't hear anywhere else."

Doug Rushkoff in his book, Cyberia:
"like house music recording artists, they employ sampling, overlaying, and dubbing. "We've quit trying to mimic reality; we try to mimic our imagination, which is the root of all reality anyway..."
"Like MTV videos that substitute texture for story and quick cuts for plot points, Rose X videos work on an almost sublimal level. Even their subject matter is intended to awaken dormant zones of human consciousness."
"Unlike Burroughs and other earlier voyagers, Rose X embraces the ambiguous impulses that can feel so unsettling. "When you are functioning at a high psychedelic level and you go into a cyberspace environment, you lose your parameters and you find yourself entirely in the electronic world. It breeds its own surprises."