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