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Animatronic Amputees in Mock-Afghanistanian Mud: Military Simulation-Urbanism, Performance & the Future of Global Warfare.

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on April 17, 2011

Part 1 of 2

(Forming part of the Fauxist ‘Military Cryptogeographies’, ‘Anthropology of Telepresence’ and ‘Speculative  Architecture’ projects).

CONTENTS:

The Sim World

– The rise of Sim Villages: MOUT Facilities

– The Future is Slum Wars

– “Architectural ornament as target criteria”: The Arab City in Orientalist Imaginary

– Global War-Games: Meta-MOUT’s & Urban Inter-penetrations

The ‘Populations’

– Employing Diasporas in Diplomacy: Role Players & Avatars in Sim-War

– ‘Amputees in Action’: Playing death daily.

Digital War/Urbanisms

– “The PlayStation to beat all PlayStations”: Telepresence & Digi-cartography

 The City as Digital Impedence

The rise of Sim Villages: MOUT Facilities

In his New Left Review article “War and the City”Stephen Graham takes us on a tour of the surreal – and more often than not, all-too-real – hybrid geographies of the Pentagon’s warfare-simulation industrial-complex that is gearing up American soldiers for an indeterminate future-long battle in the world’s urban centers.  “A hidden archipelago of mini-cities is now being constructed across the U.S. sunbelt,” he writes, “presenting a jarring contrast to the surrounding stripmall suburbia” where entire urban replications of Third World cityscapes are also rising out of the deserts of Kuwait and Israel, the downs of Southern England, the plains of Germany and the islands of Singapore.

“Unmarked on maps, and largely unnoticed by urban-design, architecture and planning communities, these sites constitute a kind of shadow global-city system. They are capsules of space designed to mimic the strategic environment of the ‘feral city’, as one U.S. military theorist has called it—now seen as a critical arena for future wars.”

Such ‘Middle-Eastern cities’ have sprouted at military bases in the US over the last few years, although in the assessment of the 2006 RAND Report these remain inadequate; casualty rates in urban combat for untrained soldiers are around 25–30 per cent. To address future ‘Military Operations on Urban Terrain’ training needs, theRAND team recommendations include the construction of four new ‘cities’, with more than 300 structures each. By 2012, the Pentagon plans to have over seventy MOUT training zones around the world. While some will be little more than air-portable sets of containers, others will be extensive sites that mimic whole city districts, with ‘airports’ or surrounding ‘countryside’. (For work on enforcement and emergency sim architectures, see Our article ” Temporal Slip in Crystal Architectures: Meth Museums, Meth Labs in Space, & The Meth-Architecture-Organism“.)

The biggest U.S. urban-warfare complex thus far is the continually expanding Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. “Eighteen mock-Iraqi villages are being constructed in this 100,000-acre site.” Another is “Chicago”, the $14 million mock-Arab city constructed at Israel’s Tze’elim base in the Negev desert. The site was explicitly built to generalize the lessons of Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps. The ‘town’ is split into four quarters, with apartment buildings, a marketplace, shops, a mosque and a refugee camp. It is wired up with the latest surveillance equipment to monitor the trainee Israeli soldiers as they practise blasting their way into Palestinian homes.

In what follows, We trace some of the currents of this ‘hidden archipelago’ through architectural/urban theory, and draw out some recent typologies of performance, focusing on military urbanisms, telepresence and diaspora.

Before We backtrack a little to explore some of the military theorizing behind the rise of the sim-MOUT world, We leave you with the trailer for the popular 2008 documentary “Full battle rattle” (below) based in the National Training complex at Fort Irwin, outside LA, California, which consists of 13 villages in the simulation-complex, and 300 Iraqi American role players to populate these villages. Army Brigades (approximately 3000 soldiers) travel through the simulation nearly every month. And a military city of 15,000 – Fort Irwin itself- exists to support the operation of the simulation.

The Future is Slum Wars

“The future is not the son of Desert Storm, but the stepchild of Somalia and Chechnya.” General Charles Krulak – Commandant – USMC

“They are . . . the post-modern equivalent of jungles and mountains – citadels of the dispossessed and irreconcilable. A military unprepared for urban operations across a broad spectrum is unprepared for tomorrow.” LtCol. Ralph Peters

“Some people say to me that Iraqis are not the Vietnamese! They have no jungles of swamps to hide in. I reply, “Let our cities be our swamps and our buildings be our jungles”. Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Foreign Minister, Oct. 2002


Urban areas are to be the future battlefield, according to globalsecurity.org, and “combat in urban areas now cannot be avoided”. Historically, Western military strategy was long premised on the avoidance of urban combat, with air strikes the preferred method of subduing large conurbations, and cities were seen as targets, not battlefields. In other words, strategies of attacking urban life have become slightly more sophisticated than the mass, total annihilation that characterized the 20th century.

Today, the cityscapes of the global South have emerged as paradigmatic conflict zones. Since the end of the Cold War, America’s militarized thrust into the Middle East and Central Eurasia has focused Pentagon planners’ attention on the burgeoning Arab and Third World cities that are now deemed de-facto sites of current and future warfare for US forces, due largely to the increasing polarizing forces of Neoliberal globalization, restructuring, “structural adjustment” (IMO, WTF, World Bank), economic re-regulation, informatization, etc.

Whatever the causes, the military deigns to presume that high-tech military dominance directly influences the urbanization of resistance. As the long-term trend in ‘open-area combat’ is toward overhead dominance by US forces, in which battlefield awareness may prove so complete, and precision weapons so effective that “enemy ground-based combat systems will not be able to survive in the deserts, plains, and fields that have seen so many of history’s main battles” (Ralph Peters, US military commentator). As part of this misguided erasure of global economic and social shifts, the US military seems to see global urbanization as a dastardly plan to thwart the US military gaining the full benefit of the complex, expensive high-tech weapons the MI-complex has spent decades developing. (We return to this subject in the “Cities as Digital Impedence” section below)

Thus, while the ‘revolution in military affairs’ that had previously emphasized overhead dominance, the losing battle for the streets of Iraq has sharpened the Pentagon’s focus on battles within the micro-geographies of slums, favelas, industrial districts and casbahs, as well as on globe-spanning stealth and surveillance technologies. Indeed, as explored above, MOUT sites like NTC have superseded Los Alamos and the Nevada Test Site (nuclear weapons) to become the premier production set for the ‘next gen’ of US strategic superiority. (See for example: specialoperations.com’s extensive MOUT theory listings, with articles like “Urban Renewal: Military Style”)

MOUT, indeed, is “the future of warfare,” according to the United States Army War College. As part of the US military’s rhetorical framing of our combat-prone, global future, the battlefield of future hostilities, as stated by the War College’s own journal, “‘lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawl of houses that form the broken cities of the world.'” Broken cities: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Fallujah, Slough. (For a scary, in-depth exploration of the operational planning and rhetoric of these futures, see the Joint Operations 2009 Urban Warfare-Strategy Outline)

In fact, as Mike Davis writes, MOUT – or the military’s pursuit of urban design by other means – is indispensable to “Washington’s ability to dominate what Pentagon planners consider the ‘key battlespace of the future’ – the Third World city”. Third World city apparently offers only one true lesson: how to attack, and thus this is “the Pentagon as global slumlord”. The First World military, Davis continues, is “unprepared for protracted combat in the near impassable, maze-like streets of the poverty-stricken cities of the Third World. As a result, the four armed services, coordinated by the Joint Staff Urban Working Group, launched crash programs to master street-fighting under realistic third-world conditions.”

Producing so-called “realistic third-world conditions,” naturally requires constructing the decoy villages on rural U.S. military bases we have been discussing, and just what these realistic conditions are considered to be is made obvious with only the most shallow perusal of MOUT sites’ commissioned reviews. Evaluating existing MOUT sites for the features deemed most challenging in undertaking military operations within large, global-South cities, RAND researchers awarded the highest points to those with ‘clutter, debris, filth’, ‘slums, shanty towns, walled compounds’, ‘subterranean complexes’ and simulated ‘government, hospital, prison, asylum structures (such as the Marines’ Twentynine Palms facility in California).

Such urban-war simulations serve to demonstrate the shifts in US military doctrine in much more explicit form. Pentagon theorists no longer concentrate so exclusively on a planetary battlespace, over which the networked power of US air and space platforms rules supreme: instead, they have turned their attention to the spaces of the global South, on the street-level, the domestic and interpersonal. In addition, as Eyal Weizman has emphasized, both Israeli and Western military planners now stress the need not just to occupy, but physically to reorganizethe space of colonized cities, so that high-tech weapons and surveillance systems can work to their best advantage. Weizman calls this ‘design by destruction’. As he puts it: ‘contemporary urban warfare plays itself out within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture, and through the destruction, construction, reorganization and subversion of space’. Areas deemed to be too dense and complex to be penetrated by the gaze of drones, satellites and aerial targeting can be physically bulldozed, as was Jenin in 2002. (Again, see “Cities as Digital Impedence” below).

“Architectural ornament as target criteria”: The Arab City in Orientalist Imaginary

You can imagine the military wanting to practice blowing up a building full of insurgents in downtown Baghdad. That’s not something you can easily practice live.”  Perme

A generalized ontological insecurity now haunts and structures Western urbanity, and would seem to be part of a larger reversal of the historical association of cities with safety (from barbarism). Under the ‘insecurity state’, terror replaces the nuclear target criteria as marking urban space as threatened. The imaginary of the western city is penetrated by a multiplying array of invisible and boundary transgressing forces- bioterror, ‘dirty’ (radiation) bombs, terror- which form a continuum with to the car bombs, snipers, IED’s of the west’s war ‘theatres’, and constantly feed back into growing trends of architectural-social bunkering, capsularization- from gated communities, (those ‘Green Zones at home’) to SUV’s- weaponisation,  and architectural/urban ‘hardening’.

The infinitely plastic discourse of the “War on Terror” is often justified by recourse to indiscriminate Orientalist categorizations, and this language of the “new barbarism” works by separating the ‘civilized world’ from threat-exuding ‘dark forces’ such as ‘the axis of evil’, namely an undifferentiated, always potentially terroristic, Other. In this ascendant network of displaced urbanisms- the city conceived as target criteria, as surveillance capability, as ruins- an architectural-urban manifestation of such typologies is concretized.

In other words, as a form of urbanism that is at once speculative and reiterative, we can read a lot about the ‘Arab’ or ‘global south’ city, and indeed ‘Arab Urbanism’ as imagined (feared/desired) in the Western mind. The extent of the geopolitical and aesthetic power of the production of the military’s ‘realistic’ architectural ‘elsewheres’ currently proliferating around the world has led Geoff Manaugh to joke that we may call it the “new International Style, or perhaps Military Arabesque” (as evidenced in the photographs below).

Most obviously, We must ask what are the long term psycho-urban implications of training thousands of soldiers in certain mimic environments like these? Even though these places purportedly provide “immersive cultural training” and ways of interfacing with foreign places and people, how do these arenas for war-play also actually condition to some extent ‘our’ military’s racial perception of the ‘Other’? How do these spaces naturalize conflations of urbanism and ‘race’, geopolitical power, and certain urban forms/geographies as spaces of threat, chaos and destabilization of the Subject?

To pose such questions in another form, We ask what inherent racism exists in the fabricated architectures of mock Iraqi villages set out as mere objects of war across the innocuous flatness of the Mojave desert? Are these the disposable architectures of a new racialized landscape; the subliminal artifice of geopolitical brainwash; are they the ultimate spatial commodities of a new MOUT marketplace? Indeed, what is being sold, reinforced, advertised here?

One effect is to naturalize Arab and global-South cities as little but physical battlespace, populated, when peopled at all, by dehumanized and racialized ‘terrorists’ that must—necessity is one of the rules of the game—be erased by Western, or Israeli, military intervention. At the same time, the militaristic gloss and relentless sanitization serve to produce an ideological reinforcement and subliminal legitimation of US foreign-policy imperatives.

Urban-Architectural Destruction comes full circle

The essence of MOUT would appear to be that it prepares one for the conditions of an elsewhere; it is an active (and actively surreal) ghost town this way empowering its subjects to descend on cities the other side the world and enact their will wherever they see fit. It is another manifestation of this military urbanism’s contemporary elasticity; it is the capability of bringing the complexities of a foreign city home in order to practice the art of conquering it there first.

In the various sections of this work we focus on both reproduction and simulation. But, as we will explore further below, building a training base architecturally (or digitally) ‘in-specific’ enough to be used for numerous cities of the Global South (for the future of global warfare, see the subsequent section on slum wars), and creating an architectural and simulation ‘database’ of real cities to run games and endlessly rehearse their destruction and occupation, is another key element of MOUT development and use. For example, Strategic Operations mobile MOUT facilities (discussed further below) feature:

“lightweight composite structures (movable by four people or a forklift), interchangeable facades (Iraq today, Afghanistan next week, or any other place in the world the following week)”

This in-specificity shares geo-temporal complicity with the digital-cartographic realm, linking place to sim in an ever tightening loop. One example of such a linkage is the increasingly instantaneous incorporation of urban weaponry and concealment tactics from urban theatres into the sim MOUT realm. Thus descriptions of new bomb-making, operation and concealment tactics from Afghanistan- to keep apace with the constant evolutionary staccato of roadside bombs and “Improvised Explosive Devices’s” (IED’s)- are fed back from ‘theatres’ into training facilities and scenarios “in minutes”, according to army promotion.

Diaspora: Diplomacy & Role Play

Understanding Afghan culture is seen as more important than ever in keeping Afghan villagers onside… Because US military operations are increasingly about not just guns and gung-ho, but also building bridges and nations”    Kaplan

A new function of this future ‘urban warfare’ is that there are of course more citizens than ‘soldiers’ on the ‘battlefield’. In his strategic review of the war effort, leaked this summer, Gen. Stanley McChrystal sounded desperate for more nonmilitary help, writing: “ISAF cannot succeed without a corresponding cadre of civilian experts to support the change in strategy and capitalize on the expansion and acceleration of counterinsurgency efforts,” including “immediate and rapid expansion into newly secured areas.” To that end, the United States expects a surge of civilians in Afghanistan. In a traditionally human-resources take on colonization and control, it is expected that such civilians will have a “force multiplier” effect, both by improving military efforts in restive villages and by hiring and training Afghans. Moving from the private-security-military and media arena to all levels of the societal structure. “We’re focusing on a whole-of-government approach,” he said. “And the feedback loop is what we missed before”.

Thus the civilian-military ‘feedback loop’, like that of IED’s, has become an increasing focus of the MOUT. Since 2008, the military and State Department have also been sending  ‘civilians’ and non-military through MOUT training to interact with the spaces, aesthetics and custums/practices of the occupied zone, amounts to a multi-faceted HR force to be deployed & populate the society at all levels. (For more on this “partnering with the civilian surge” see for example “Joint Civilian-Military Training at MUTC makes The Army Better”)

"Vignettes are designed to realistically create events which they may find themselves a part of in Afghanistan"

As we have seen, much of the rhetoric behind the sim-war cities is one of diplomacy and experientially-based cultural sensitivity- these apparently new factors of urban warfare and contemporary colonialism/imperialism. And thus with an ostensibly older architectural/urban reproductive realism, comes an increasing focus on that of population/cultural/behavioural realism. While  PSYOPS/PSYWAR engaged with the ‘enemy mind’ and mass psychology, (leaflet drops and propaganda through to the structural torture psychologies and practices used in Iraq- See Our work on Music Torture for example), the range of PSY-technique has been expanded and brought to the level of the individual soldier, who is then psychologically responsible for representing the diplomatic intent of a gift-wrapped invasion/occupation.

In this regard, many of the sim-sites hire experienced role players who use action and behavioural scripts developed by returned soldiers, psychologists and theorists. At Fort Polk, Louisiana, for example, trainees also contend with ‘civilians’– up to 1,200 role-players who act as Iraqi mayors, imams, journalists, humanitarian aid workers, and ordinary citizens (necessarily with the “appropriate mix of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds”). More than 200 of the role-players are Arab Americans, many of them Iraqis, bussed in from around the US for ‘extra realism’. A three-week exercise can cost up to $9 million.

At Fort Polk, “al-Qaeda terrorists” are based in an off-limits bit of the wood called ‘Pakistan’, and Taliban insurgents living in 18 mock villages. Another 800 role-players live with them, acting as western aid workers, journalists, peacekeepers, Afghan mayors, mullahs, policemen, doctors and opium farmers, all with fake names, histories and characters. Some 200 Afghan-Americans are augmented by local Louisianans in Afghan garb. The ‘final element of realism’ in the training comes from a gaggle of role-playing media who roam the training area, cover life in the villages and write about the military operations. ‘In-game’ journalists produce three daily newspapers, a radio show, and a nightly reel of video highlights. These role-players, some Iraqi and the others local residents with journalism backgrounds, publish a daily newspaper called the Talatha Times as well as radio and television reports, which are broadcast in the villages. The soldiers in charge of the exercise track how many positive and how many negative stories the units in training generate. The coverage was all bad the day after insurgents “kidnapped” four soldiers and a role-playing journalist, who was permitted to witness the mock executions of the troops and then released in time to write a front-page story.

Although the Army’s use of mock villages populated by native speakers dates to Vietnam and included soldiers bound for Bosnia, it was not provided to the troops who most recently invaded Iraq. Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer, said the expectation that combat troops will conduct nation-building missions in Iraq makes Fort Polk’s training imperative. “You’re dealing with a foreign people, some of whom are truculent unemployed locals with access to guns,” Peters says. “The military’s training program became very sophisticated to do that.”

Der Derain traces a number of changes in the development, sourcing and relative sophistication of these role-playing populations. Beginning with the earlier “female marines wearing white bedsheets”, and the palm-cards given to marines which sought to remind them of ‘diplomatic skills’- based on a cartoon character mono-cultural version of the ‘other’ that closely resembled the essentialist portrayal of Ralph Petai’s “Arab Mind” (1983), one of the central texts of US ‘Middle Eastern’ policy/mythology, and reportedly still used to develop torture and interrogation techniques in U.S war-prisons like Abu Ghraib)- to hundreds-strong live-in role-players, participating in scenarios scripted by specialist theorists, investment.sometimes outsourcing internationally.

Increasingly, these role-played locals are temp. agency employees- from firms like the hydra-giant L3. Most are members of the diaspora, people who worked as interpreters for the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq and then immigrated, and nearly all of whom are seeking U.S. citizenship if they do not have it already. Unsurprisingly, in the sim-war world, Iraqi role-players often occupy the bottom of the pecking order on site, and generally receive no health or employment benefits. The opinions they can express to the media are tightly controlled by site media-relations managers, resulting in a generalized picture of hyperbolic, repetitive statements about the ‘nobility’, ‘national responsibility’ of their work, they ‘would do it for free to help US-Other relations’ (an interesting position in proving civic worth and citizenship in an anti-Arab U.S). Many role players have refused to be identified or photographed, citing fears of Taliban retribution against relatives in Afghanistan. Reports of role-player re-traumatization from violent scenarios- notably suicide bombing scenarios- are also played down.

The chronology of the rise of this form of diasporic performance culture is also interesting. Such a seemingly uncanny intermeshing of terror discourse and citizenship-performativity  appears yet stranger considering the post-9/11 rise of militarized discourses of domestic (as in ‘domestic front’) security policy enacting a overall policy of “cracking down on diaspora”- through state surveillance, racial/ethnic profiling, bordering processes, and not to mention massive state violence directed at the supposed ‘sources’ of diasporic threat.

It is unclear how long the MOUT’s will keep their lavish population resources. Since early 2003, every training rotation has been geared to preparing a brigade or battalion for a mission in Iraq or Afghanistan. As America withdraws its troops from Iraq—whenever that will be—non-mission-specific training will resume, and the training budget will be cut.

The military has been duly seeking cost-cutting cultural training methodologies, and after having briefly explored this strange diasporic performance genre, We now turn to a new area of cost-conscious diplomatic training- the U.S military’s recent adoption of avatar training. A prominent example is a training environment known as ELECT-BiLAT, in development and testing to soon be used by soldiers being deployed to Iraq. ELECT-BiLAT is a prototype game-based simulation for soldiers to practice ‘conducting bilateral engagements in a cultural context’- in army-speak: “a culturally sensitive negotiations simulator”.

In the development of ELECT-BiLAT, there has been a heavy focus on the avatar’s cultural-racial realism . The University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies (USC-ICT) in Playa Vista researchers are feeding a detailed analysis of such cultural behavioural differences– the nods and smiles, pauses, eye gazes, and gesticulations that would ostensibly serve to differentiate ‘Cultures’. The emotional believability of a Hollywood avatar, so the thinking goes, should help soldiers “become sensitive to cultural issues in the way they dress, behave and raise delicate subjects”.

While similar animations are increasingly used in popular movies, game designers and film animators still struggle with how to make ‘faces realistic’, considering the sheer amount  that is unknown about facial expressions, behavioural cues and so on. Kaplan details the depth of investment in this military-entertainment industry development and research on animation and behavioural-body modeling technologies to create sim-training avatars. In this area, even the mega-budgets of the big screen are being eclipsed by investment from the military. “Ninety-five per cent of our budget comes from the US Department of Defense,” says Randy Hill director of the USC-ICT, which specialises in avatar design. (USC’s Game Innovation Lab was involved in the game design as well as creating a compelling set of scenarios that would be appropriate for the training objectives identified. USC-ICT also makes PTSD, variously ‘wounded’ and traumatized soldier avatars to train military social workers and psychologists. Video HERE).

Avatar-based diplomatic role-playing has thus far garnered good reviews. “It seems to work. In three hours, the new environment allows soldiers to achieve the same proficiency in cultural interaction as they would achieve from six to eight hours of interaction using traditional methods. At the moment, however, learners must indicate their actions – “I’m taking off my helmet”, “I smile” – through keyboard or mouse inputs. True interactivity requires the avatar itself to recognise such actions and expressions without being told, and react accordingly.” (Kaplan)

And shouldn’t it succeed? Pixelated automatons (in white bedsheets) running trumped up palm-card scripts of programmed diplomacy further remove any association with diaspora, hybridity, and the ‘effects of war’ that the role-players re-present.

Meta-MOUT?

“We can shoot anything short of nuclear weapons here” (29 Palms)

There are multiple MOUT facilities all over the world, but in addition to two that already exist at Twentynine Palms, there is a brand new site cropping up along the fringes that’s being called CAMOUT, or Combined-Arms Military Operations in Urban Terrain. “K-MOUT” is expected to be the Mecca (*groan* ed.) of the entire MOUT program, spread over a 20-by-20 km area centered around an urban core of 280 acres.

The need for the Meta-MOUT comes arises from a project study determining that urban training facilities, which have been in use for many years by the Marine Corps at its various bases, were too small. Many contained 35 or fewer buildings, which Bryan Robertson (Assistant CAMOUT Project Manager) says is hardly enough to provide the level of training needed to prepare troops to conduct operations in big cities. “Trying to train for urban combat in 35 buildings is like trying to train for jungle warfare in a botanical garden” he said.

And so the idea of a mega-MOUT, one big enough to accommodate a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force — 7,000 troops — was born. In 2004, the Marines began developing the concept and design for CAMOUT. And indeed, what will a quarter of a billion dollars get you? Well, we learn that CAMOUT, if completed as planned, will include 1,560 buildings (some as high as five stories) in seven separate districts: the urban core (as previously described), east and west stadium districts, a hospital district, an ‘old town’ which will actually be modeled on Sadr City (a suburb of Baghdad), and finally an industrial district as well as a diplomatic district (see video below). “A city like no one has ever seen,” it will be “bisected by a river, already in place, that’s up to 80 feet wide in some spots,” even though in reality we are told it will contain absolutely no water. “Some areas will have buildings that have been reduced to rubble and there will be shanty towns around the city” that will almost certainly lend a theme park-like and surreal credence to Mike Davis’ claim, quoted above, that the Pentagon is the world’s largest slumlord.

Interestingly, the report also looks at garrisoning abandoned sites and structures throughout the US: abandoned factories, strip malls, schools, hospitals and entertainment complexes. There is an old copper-mining town in New Mexico that has apparently been used to perfect the art of the suburban raid, an outfit that even employs the few remaining residents there as actors. A network of ‘low-population’ towns in North Dakota is also being considered for such a role, and the RAND Report recommends further investigation into the use of abandoned factories, offices, strip malls, schools, hospitals and interestingly, entertainment complexes.

We wonder how reconfigurable these simulated cities may actually become in the future. The idea that CAMOUT could one week be fancied into a city based on the exact dimensions of Sadr Cty, and then the next week be converted into a startlingly real carbon copy of Port-au-Prince, or Darfur, smacks of both exciting and sinister potential. Imagine an entirely fake city that is the architectural combination of, say, Rio, Tijuana, and Johanasberg—toy cities, hybrid cities; imagine the Lego cities of anti-western extremism and other counter imperialist pirates coming to life. CAMOUT is a city waiting not only to be destroyed over and over again, but one eager to be remade in the alternating images of Third World cities all over.

Other questions arise. What if these military bases were the vanguard of architecture’s simultaneous progression and regression? What if CAMOUT became a new dismal suburban model of sorts for the future? What is the ultimate architectural trajectory of this program–bases the size of small countries? Will MOUT one day see its infusion somehow into our normal lives, into the fabric of our common society? In other words, will MOUT one day expand to a utilization of real-life western cities? Overseas US bases permeating the cities that surround them?

Hyper-Realism  & ‘Amputees in Action’

“We sit in a muddy puddle for hours on end, waiting to jump out and scream and shout, cold and miserable – but then you remember these guys are heading for something far worse. Every amputee is vetted and put through specialist training beforehand to see if they are up to the job. For some it is too close to the mark, too realistic. The last thing we want to do is traumatize someone, stymie their rehabilitation.”  John Pickup, of Amputees In Action.

In that Combat sims necessarily implicate ‘violence’ and ‘death’, We now tour another tier of the MOUT-LARP employment pool- the wounded and the wound-makers.

See: Amputees In Action

[bbc= http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10314540%5D

In training medics and soldiers for the realities of war, MOUT facilities employ private contractor and military medical-sim training groups that offer services and scenarios which “have been carefully designed under the guidance of a military and civilian medical advisory counsel, along with military medics on staff who have recently served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan”, replete with sophisticated MOUT prop-making departments covering all areas of medical-bodily reproduction and simulation.

The blending with the entertainment-complex is present here too. Strategic Operations, the San-Diego based movie studio-cum-training facility (as discussed in the cinematic simulation section) offers a medical simulation capability that “goes well beyond moulage and typical make up techniques”, into an heady area Strategic Operations deigns to calls “Hyper-RealisticTM“, which employs a host of variously role-players and technician-artists to simulate battlefield wounds and victims. Indeed their literature is worth quoting at length here:

“In a typical scenario… Trainees encounter head wounds, penetrating chest wounds, burns, and shrapnel, and basic life support, including airway management… his very realistic wounds are actually sutured and his vitals stabilized. Hyper-RealisticTM life support challenges include pneumothorax management, uncontrolled bleeding, burns, blast injuries, and penetrating eye injuries, as well as lacerations and embedded glass… wounds complete with active bleeding that stops when a tourniquet is applied properly… large bags of special effects blood are delivered to the injury via hidden tubes, and air is delivered to a chest injury site, controlled by the role player so air bubbles appear at the chest wound site with each breath. Strategic Operations simulates the effects chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) events with amazing fidelity. Special effects make-up, engineering techniques, and role playing provide Hyper-RealisticTM simulations of anthrax (cutaneous), with “malignant pustules”; cyanides, with pink skin; nuclear radiation exposure, with epilation, erythema, dry desquamation, and wet desquamation;  plague, with purple skin lesions; smallpox, with macules, papules, vesicles, and pustules; vesicants, with blistering; and vomiting agents, with erythema and edema at the site of dermal contact – just to name a few effects”.[2]

If this level of simulation seems outlandish, consider that medics at the Fort Polk complex practice on a $70,000 mannequin that bleeds, blinks, breathes, and makes five different kinds of bowel sounds.

In the quest for visceral (hyper)realism, stunning equivalences- stunning in both their economics and metaphorics- are generated. Prevatt reminisces about a mass grave they created, a charnel pit of bound mannequins with simulated head wounds. “We put a bunch of bones and meat in there and buried it for a couple days so it would smell right,” he says. (Click HERE For more video examples of MOUT Hyper-realism).


“The PlayStation to beat all PlayStations”: Telepresence & Digi-Cartography

In our fear of the real, of anything that is too real, we have created a giant simulator.We prefer the virtual to the catastrophe of the real.” Baudrillard

Audiovisual speed will be for our interior domestic architecture what automotive speed was for the architecture of the city, for the whole layout of the region”. Virilio

Within a cavernous hanger in Wiltshire sit 140 giant metal containers, an installation named the “Combined Arms Tactical Trainer”. Each externally indistiguishable room of this demountable container city contains a different simulation of an urban space in an international theatre. Enter one and you are in the cockpit of an Apache helicopter above Sangin, another and you are driving a Warrior armoured vehicle through desert terrain, a third and you are manoeuvring an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Kajaki.

A brigade preparing to take over in Helmand can use simulators that replicate the terrain they will face in Afghanistan. New computer graphics, rendering and digital image gathering on site in Afghanistan will allow “a soldier heading for Musa Qala to drive the very road she will need to negotiate in a few months, past the same mud compounds and mosques…” while officers “issue orders from a mock-up of the headquarters in Lashkar Gah in the next room”. Afterwards, the scenario is played back to observe mistakes made not only in terms of the battle but the consequences of such actions on locals.

According to Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram “It’s a case of Disney World – eat your heart out. But the serious side is that it prepares our people for the realities of combat.”

Increasingly, the military is linking up live training exercises with such virtual simulations and spaces. It also allows them to provide a wider variety of training situations,  and also gives them a chance to peek into the future by introducing weapons and tools that don’t yet exist into their battle scenarios, again exhibiting a deep interlinking with entertainment industry and technologies, as evidenced in the video below.

With such developments in computer sim, media dissimulation, global surveillance and networked warfare, wars are increasingly fought in the same way they are broadcast or represented- real-time surveillance and ‘live feeds’ and databases of target criteria. Like the cartographic tension implicit to such a ‘world’ (i.e territory is not map), these kinds of systems exhibits a combination of environmental (as moral value and as sheer space) erasure and summoning, borne out in another of Adam Ingram’s unwittingly revealing statements: “The army can train under any conditions almost anywhere in the world at the flick of a switch – without environmental impact or the cost of moving men and equipment over long distances.”

The City as Anti-Digital Impedence

A group which dreams of a miraculous correspondence of the real to their models, and therefore of an absolute manipulation“.  Baudrillard

“A map of Esmeralda should include, marked in different colored inks, all these routes, solid and liquid, evident and hidden. It is more difficult to fix on the map the routes of the swallows, who cut the air over the roofs, dropping long invisible parabolas with their still wings, darting to gulp a mosquito, spiraling upward, grazing a pinnacle, dominating from every point of their airy paths all the points of the city.”   Italo Calvino Invisible Cities


Thus we may ask, what is the ‘environment’ or terrain of such warfare? How is it constructed and maintained? What appears to lie beneath the surface of such a drive is the deployment of a myriad of digital-cartographer-machines, documenting urban environments to be exported/transcribed into computer spaces. In this, surveillance and mapping inextricably overlap. (Considering the U.S Biometric recording programs in Iraq and Afghanistan in this context forms the basis of an upcoming Fauxist publication.)

See, for instance, “Urban Resolve“: put together back in 2004 to create an unparalleled virtual model of almost the entirety of Iraq, with scaled cities and buildings that boast being within 1 metre of perfect accuracy. The $195,000 program is a combat simulation on a massive scale. In other words, it’s one part “Risk”, one part “The Sims” and one part raw supercomputing power. “[U]sing concepts borrowed from artificial intelligence research,” “Urban Resolve”functions somewhere between high-tech city planning assistant and future warfare prediction device, “helping military leaders determine which types of sensors – CIA agents, spy planes, listening devices and so on – are best for tracking enemy forces that are hiding in a modern city.” In the latest experiment- Urban Resolve 2015– the setting is Baghdad, but, according to its promotional literature, “can be tailored to resemble any major urban area from Iraq to Indonesia“.

Efforts at constantly refining and shortening the feedback loops between urban space, sims and planning have become increasingly central, and have entered the realm of a global panoptic fantasy. Put simply, it runs something like this: “Imagine if the first soldiers to enter an enemy city could map it street by street, recording every window and doorway of the urban battlefield in an accurate 3D model that could instantly be relayed to their comrades at base”. An article from New Scientist, “The speedy way to capture a city” describes exactly this:

“Virtualised reality scans the urban landscape using lasers and digital cameras mounted on a truck or plane. A laser measures distances to objects such as lamp posts and building facades, while the digital camera takes 2D photos. Another laser calculates the movement of the truck and checks its position against data collected from the aerial laser aboard the plane. These measurements and pictures are fed into a computer that combines them to create a photo-realistic virtual 3D model of the area.”

Annoyingly, in this context, cities, as physical objects, simply get in the way of the US military’s technophilic fantasies of trans-global, real-time omnipotence. And thus We witness the ‘design by destruction’ discussed above- the physical reorganization of colonized cities, to ensure that high-tech weapons and surveillance systems can work to their best advantage.

Such electronic mapping and satellite-image technologies provide digital urban renditions that can be experienced ‘immersively’, forming a database of the global south. Entirely lacking in even virtual people, these simulations render places like Iraq as pure digital battlespace. The threat of violence from a distance– backing the Drone/UAV warfare with a bringing of ‘there’ to ‘here’ in real-time and with near-versimilitude- means that virtuality has become the ‘fifth dimension’ of US global hegemony. In the MOUT context, such electronic simulation technologies thus blend seamlessly into physical constructions and ‘recreation’.

Cities, as they exist in First World military simulations, are virtualized yet further through inclusion in  Department of Defense video games. Such computer simulations are increasingly the norm “in a growing number of defense exercises. With ever-more-sophisticated simulation and modeling technology, the First World military meets the entertainment industry – the so-called “military-entertainment complex” – via urban design and building contractors.

Thus a cartographic ‘Cyber-deterrence’ becomes the holy grail of contemporary war-as-peace. As nuclear weaponry proliferates and begins to ostensibly level the playing field, digital dominance- here conceived of as a complete cartography- is a realm still only available to the few (richest) nation-states. Cyber-deterrence bears further similarities to nuclear deterrence, as it does not actually have to work to be effective, i.e the power lies in its symbolic exchange, here it is a knowledge-possession of territory, and a demonstrative/spectacular rehearsal of invasion and destruction. (We have your city on file).

In this sense, overhead surveillance from drones & space platforms, high-precision, high-lethality smart weapons, multi-spectral sensors, real time battle-data, networked commands, justi-in-time simulations and so on are all part of the dream of “full spectrum dominance”, where the battlefield has shifted from the geopolitical to the electromagnetic. The cartographic panopticon enacts at once a physically retracted, invisible colonialism (like that increasingly prevalent in Palestine, as provided by surveillance/teleoperation/UAV’s), and a virtualization of urban space (violence), both ensuring disappearance. (See http://diydrones.com/ for a glimpse of the possible omnipresence of such a normalized surveillant culture).

And despite the life-saving rhetoric and reality-dreams of the SIM-War realm, the traffic between map and place is fraught with slippage. The virtual urban models we are discussing have such an reality-impact on troops that CSC has to warn: “if you put a door on the side of the building, the soldier is trained for that. If he gets to the real environment and the door is on the wrong side of the building, he can get killed”. Another sinister take on the virtualization of urban control can be found in SEAS, participants in Urban Resolve 2015.

In concluding part 1, We acknowledge the Borgesian currents beneath Our interest in this topic by including a quote from Borges’ work “On Exactitude in Science”, in which an emperor sends out his royal cartographers to make the perfect map of his empire, only to have them return years later with a map that dwarfs the now-shrunken empire; the emperor naturally comes to prefer the model to reality:

“In that Empire, the Art of Cartography reached such Perfection that the map of one Province alone took up the whole of a City, and the map of the empire, the whole of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps did not satisfy and the Colleges of Cartographers set up a Map of the Empire which had the size of the Empire itself and coincided with it point by point. Less Addicted to the Study of Cartography, Succeeding Generations understood that this Widespread Map was Useless and not without Impiety they abandoned it to the Inclemencies of the Sun and of the Winters. In the deserts of the West some mangled Ruins of the Map lasted on, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in the whole Country there are no other relics of the Disciplines of Geography.”

Part 2

In Part 2 of “Animatronic Amputees in Mock-Afghanistanian Mud: Military Simulation-Urbanism, Performance & the Future of Global Warfare”:

– “All but war is simulation”: MIME-NET & Gaming

– Blurring the Base: A Typology of Military Performance in ‘civilian’ space


[1] Computer Science Corporation

[2] see also: SIMULAIDS, http://www.moulage.net/ http://www.moulage.net/IPPhoto.htm

Bibliography:

Caroline Wyatt “Tackling the ‘Taliban’ in Norfolk” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8094396.stm
“War Games” http://www.good.is/post/war_games
“Iraqi village recreated at new Bragg training site” http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/4659235/
Amit Asaravala  “When War Games Meet Video Games” http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2004/10/65403
“Mock Village Prepares U.S., NATO Forces for Deployment”  www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51419
“Marines train at Calif. post’s Afghan ‘village’: Training equips troops with insight into terrain, Islamic culture and customs”  9/30/2008
“Troop Preparation – Mock Afghan War Village in Norfolk” http://www.hmforces.co.uk/news/articles/2303-troop-preparation—mock-afghan-war-village-in-norfolk
ANNIE LOWREY “My Trip to a Fake Afghan Village: How the U.S. military is preparing civilians for a surge of their own”.  DECEMBER 18, 2009
Heidi E Loredo “Hollywood magic prepares Marines for combat” 
“Combat Wound Medical Special Effects & Simulations” http://www.strategic-operations.com/zones/services/combattrauma/
Geoff Manaugh “A MINIATURE CITY WAITING FOR ATTACK
SUSAN WILLIS “EMPIRE’S SHADOW” New Left Review 22, July-August 2003
Dan Orzech “Cybertroops Keep War Games Real”  Wired Magazine 08.24.05 
BBC News “Soldiers train on giant simulator” Wednesday, 27 November, 2002 
Terri Judd “Welcome to Afghanistan? No, Norfolk” The Independent, UK, 11 March, 2010 
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “GoogleMapping War” JANUARY 22, 2006
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “MOUT Urbanism” FEBRUARY 23, 2008
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “Peering into the Arenas of War” APRIL 17, 2007
Vince Beiser “Baghdad, USA” WIRED magazine, Issue 14.06 – June
STEPHEN GRAHAM “WAR AND THE CITY” New Left Review 44, March-April 2007
Tim Lenoir “ALL BUT WAR IS SIMULATION: THE MILITARY-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX” Configurations, Fall, 2000
Pasquinelli  “Warporn! Warpunk! Autonomous Videopoiesis in Wartime”, Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts, Amsterdam-Delhi: Sarai, 2005.
Emily Singer “The speedy way to capture a city” New Scientist, 5 May 2005
“How to Do it Better” The Economist Magazine, Dec. 14 2005
James Der Derian, “Virtuous War: Mapping the Military–Industrial–Media–Entertainment Network”, Boulder, CO 2001.

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar | 4 Comments »

Temporal Slip in Crystal Architectures: Meth Museums, Meth Labs in Space, & The Meth-Architecture-Organism

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on November 11, 2010

Contents:

– “Laura”: Mourning in The Contemporary Meth museum & Topographies of Meth Hells

Practice Meth Labs: Emergency Sim-Architecture

Practice Meth Labs 2: The First Ever Meth-Lab in Space

Moving into A Meth Lab: The Toxic-domestic regrets of innocent families

– Domestic Alchemy & The Meth-Organism in Architecture

——–

Watch this first.

 

This is a smart meth PSA. For once. Much more sophisticated than the usual fare of lost innocence/violent teenager imagery…  And to be crystal clear, I love meth. I’ll come with you Laura. An indeed the writing of this is ‘inspired’ by the recent wave of double/triple strength meth that hit the scene in Sydney & has everyone talking to Tina. The Fauxists have long evinced a fascination with drugs and architectural spacetime, and in Laura’s museum, We’ve picked up on some particularly potent motifs of meth-time.

Laura’s Museum

In what is obviously the blank bright cavernous interior of a contemporay art space- rather than the dark stuffiness of a traditional museum?- split-channel videos and wallpapered paintings blatantly quoting Takashi Murakami mimic the art-viewing experience, of experience scoured & framed by the white cube-void.

We are led into an exhibition that could well be entitled “Laura: The Mourning of Straight Time”. Laura wanders spaces of temporal slip, arrayed with visions and objects of her/a lost adolescence and childhood. Indeed, at centre, the contrasting of meth-time, meth-desire with straight time is the central tenet to most of the PSA’s of this ilk. The notion of ‘straight time’, as deployed by Halberstam, and developed by Jose Esteban Munoz, describes the ‘autonaturalizing temporality’ that is produced by the structures of heteronormativity (broadly), and its proprietary deployment of work, recreation, family, the body etc. Straight time promises that there is no future for non-normative individuals/groups, as the only futurity promised is that of reproductive majoritarian heterosexuality, the family, and the spectacle of the state refurbishing its ranks through covert & subsidized acts of reproduction. It is impoverished and toxic for ‘others’ who do not feel the privilege of majoritatian belonging, normative tastes, and ‘rational’ expectations.

In the forced re-imposition of straight time, Laura is ‘offered’ a hypertextual multiverse of access to her potential paths and parallel lives framed totally as loss (“A museum of what she lost to meth”). In a screaming re-accession/dismissal of her childhood(s),  Laura bodily skirts a claustrophobic installation of cards, only to thrash against/through the birthday/card field-archive (reminiscent of the ‘house of cards’ or dominoes, and bringing to mind Derrida’s ‘Archive trauma’) that someone has arranged so perfectly, through the accumulated weight of sticky intentions and ties, forming a path.

Google Image results for "Meth"

Straight Time again. This parallel lives/lost potential device is common throughout anti-meth ads & lit. Alongside the overwhelming preponderance of before-and-after mugshots of crystal-ravaged countenances (these are in fact the predominant image found if you type “Meth” into Google- see image above- and are a makeup artists database for the swathe of tele-features destined to proliferate as the ‘meth-emergency’ continues), there are a number of campaigns that traffic in a cosy mix of regret and straight time, like the infamous “Lost Me to Meth” series, and in particular the ‘gay’ ‘Lost Me To Meth’ video below.

Other notable instances include the apparently ‘horrific’ Montana Meth Campaign some of its derivative spinoffs.

There is a voyeuristic-cum-panoptic quality to this video, which is verified by the surveillance camera’s robotic jerkiness and zoom in the closing moments. We now know that Laura’s ‘exploration’ is under supervision, the video lays bare it’s self-producing mechanisms as panoptic document. Much can be read from this. ‘They’ have made this museum and are letting her suffer through it for ‘the Great Lesson’, surveiled from and shoring up their own righteous position and  importantly, chronology. There is a deep Catholicism in this. In meeting an omnipresent god, whose monitoring angels have recorded your every move and intention, how else could you experience ‘what you had lost’ like this?

In reiterating chronology (or more accurately the chronotopic timespace relations of amphetamines) , We remember that some years into the study of the ‘states’ grouped under the umbrella ADHD, came the realization that the ADHD ‘sufferers’ perceived the flow of time quite differently to the majority. Thus pharmaceutical speed and meth treatments, which had already proven to re-align the occupation of aberrant attention were then understood to actually correct and align the perception of time passing. In other words, amphetamines- strictly administered- became known to be effective agents of hegemonic/straight time, whether in the kindergarten child, or the jacked-out military fighter jet-pilot. That the pseudoephedrine of common cold medications designed to keep Us work-ready is the key ingredient of meth, doubles the irony of the endless castigation of the self-administering meth-freak’s mis/overuse of time.

Following such time-slippages in an institutional space (the ‘angels in the architecture’ of Paul Simon), We are left to wonder what other types of museum or archive Laura’s ‘monument’, her thanatological themepark, could inhabit, and how the space would then determine the psycho-emotional possibilities of the ‘exploration’. In other words, how would Meth-life-time be displayed in the educational, didactic displays and chronological layouts of the traditional museum? Would the dark and dusty halls of old not be more suited to the junky’s history? (Perhaps best located architecturally in smack-poet Michael Dransfield’s mythic ancestral mansion ‘Courland Penders’, into which he built his nostalgia for an older civilization).

Which implies the question: Is there something about the contemporary art space that is inherently schizoid? And what of the museum in the supercomputer or database? Would not the Virtual Reality Meth-Hell, the simulated gaming space of a million mediated selves, be just as ‘efficient’?

What indeed is the architecture here? The architecture of Laura’s Museum is essentially and exactly a topology of hell and morality, which always is busy designing it’s Hells and their populations. In viewing Laura’s Museum, We must then imagine the labyrinthine institution that would hold all of the lost experiences and lives of Meth Users, or others similarly abject (according to any particular morality and vision of upward mobility etc.) We can safely predict that their overseers consume an all-to-common diet of the traditional Borges, Dante, Piranesi, Bentham… with updates by Philip K. Dick, EST, Italo Calvino, Landmark Forum…

How did she enter? Where from? How does she exit? Who and where are the museum staff? Do they visit their own janatorial hells too? Are these replete with corporate hierachies they could have ascended if they’d just bleached their skin more rigorously? Screams can be heard from behind the walls. In the next room(s), the 4th world poor are flayed by streams of better lives, the children of junkies are hired for cameo roles in their parents films, all the while producing material for their own future museums. Rooms lit by myriad screens, editors compiling endless footage of speculative lives, possibilities, permutations, for the judgement & the primal scream…

But before We exponentially expand Laura’s museum into a city-state, other associations beckon…

For example, We are aware here of the somewhat uncanny crossover’s with Mike Kelley’s work, notably his confrontation with architecture and “repressed memory syndrome” (the “Study for Repressed Spatial Relationships” series) and his work “Educational Complex”: an architectural model composed of replicas of every school Kelley ever attended, with areas which he couldn’t remember left blank.

Mike Kelley "Educational Complex" 1995

Mike Kelley "Study for Repressed Spatial Relationships Rendered as Fluid, No. 6 St. Mary's Church and School Cry Room in the Sky" 2002

Further, Kelley’s performances, with their implication of childhood objects and memories (later of trauma, sexuality, loss etc) brought into the contemporary art space, often function by creating agglomerations, dialogues, and taxonomies of (often handmade) soft toys in gallery space. Like Laura’s childhood bear and bed, Kelley’s toys are set in scientific-philosophic arrays and dialogues, animated with mourning and the abjection of memory, and draw on the calculus of object-affect and regression that Laura’s overseers obviously employ.

Mike Kelly "Dirty" typology.

Mike Kelley. 'Dirty' inset.

Toy Taxonomy/Typology

An Anthropometry of Memory

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As another small detour, for a moment consider the videographic architecture of the equivalent Acid morality-museum. What would be the moralist’s didactic media space for the acid-freak? As Erik Davis writes, psychedelics are perhaps best seen as media, and in fact are a lot like information overload, however, We believe, baroque the iconographic-semiotic framework. Similarly, McLuhan saw psychedelics as “chemical simulations of our environment”, which allow users to achieve empathy with the “archaic echo chamber of the electronic media”. And indeed, the metaphors of psychedelics are of media, not message (‘tune in’ & ‘turn on’… and trust the psychedelic apparatus). Or alternatively of LSD: “When you get the message, hang up the phone”.

In many ways, according to Davis, 60’s/70’s freak spirituality simply reproduced industrial society’s belief in quick-fix technological solutions- the ‘plug & play’ nirvana of the gadget happy Americans. An instantaneous ‘out’/’in’ often set amidst the high-tech sensory assault of the happening (think Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test/Grateful Dead), resulting in forms of technological fetishism. So what are the acid-heads missing from the museum? Would this museum be an internet/advertising space?

Seen from this vantage point, the Meth PSA’s, and especially ‘Laura’, mobilize elements of the heady epochal melding of Acid freak (60’s), New Age (primal scream therapy) (70’s), and corporate Success seminars (90’s)- and indeed the easy slippage of New Age semiotics into the corporate environs- in dealing with postmodern anxieties around the maintanence of the self, proper/functional trajectories, and the identity media-multiverse. In the video museum in which Everyone is You-as-lost-You, the overseers/seminar leaders are photogenic messiahs trying to deprogram the TV-bred abjection out of you. A recent, succinct rendering of this is Brody Condon’s amazing LARP Seminar “Level 5” performance at the Hammer Museum, September 4-5, 2010: VIDEO HERE

Staying with Brody’s use of 70’s regression ‘processing’ techniques for a moment, We can draw links between these interventionist psychological tools and the horrific 1950’s torture-psychology experiments that they emanated from. Laura’s museum- in both its surveillance-experimental and infantilizing nature- could thus be seen as a kind of circling ‘back’ to the CIA’s clandestine  Operation Bluebird (think drug-and-noise/media-and-electroshock-forced schizophrenia) and indeed Ewan Cameron’s MKULTRA ‘regression’ experiments, which added LSD to the mix. Indeed, you’d only need to cut the text out of the Laura video to make it a performance-art video piece.

Setting aside Brody, and indeed McLuhan, We believe the theorist Paul Virilio- whose theories of speed, dromology, telepresence and videography warfare and their effects on architecture, identity and ‘the’ body- are better suited to thinking through the Meth-time museum, and nature of the meth-media link. But again, We digress! This is another essay entirely!

All in all, Laura’s museum seems like a somewhat benign behavioural punishment. In being made to experience these narratives- the loss is not liberty, her body etc- but straight time, memory, family.  And frankly, We think they can keep it.

The following sections then, explore the architectures and cultural symbolics of meth-labs, taken here as reproduced meth-labs to follow the logic of the preceding.

Practice Meth Labs: Emergency Sim-Architecture

(Note: All images in this section by the Center for Land Use Interpretation)


Meth is fast becoming a national emergency. As labs proliferate, it saturates the US, and the trade from Mexico increases. Importantly, Meth doesn’t skyhook (or bootstrap?) with the relative cultural indulgence of cocaine, but is something much more poor, queer, abject. ‘Worse than Heroin’, it has quickly become the central drug bogeyman.

As explored in Our upcoming article “Amputees in Mock-Afghanistanian Mud: Military Simulation-Urbanism, Performance and the Future of Global Warfare” (which deals with the architectural simulation of war games and virtual sims, military urbanism and cryptogeography), there is a growing network of cryptogeographic mock-towns and villages used for simulation, training and re-enactments of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed for the future of 3rd World urban warfare. In this case though, the mock urban spaces are intended to simulate non-military and law enforcement emergencies. The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) has undertaken an investigation into these emergency mock-towns, spread across the US mainland.

As CLUI (Link) explain:

“Another architecture is rising in the expanding landscape of preparedness. Condensed simulacrum of our existing urban environments are forming within our communities, where the first responders to emergencies, on a small or large scale, practice their craft of dealing with disaster. The scenario grounds of emergency training include mock hazardous material spills, train wrecks, building collapse, fires, and debris strewn landscapes. The police contend with civil decay, robberies, hostage situations, looting, riots, and snipers in mini Main Street environments called situation simulation villages , tactical training sites, or Hogan’s Alleys , where live weapons or small dye-filled simunition rounds complete the realism of the scenario. Whether they are made for police or fire departments, these training sites are stylized versions of ordinary places, with the extraordinary horrors of the anticipated future applied to them on a routine basis. In disaster situations, from car accidents to riots to earthquakes to terrorist attacks, when order breaks down, the worlds of police, fire departments, and the military, coming to our defense, merge to become the reigning order – the emergency state”.

Photographs from CLUI’s work show the towns to be replete with  a series of practice/simulation meth labs, in which actors play out the part of tweakers. In what may be a lost chapter of “A scanner, darkly”, many of the rooms in these sim-labs,have no real ceilings, and the action is watched and filmed from overhead catwalks by supervisors monitoring the officers’ skills. The photo series in this section by CLUI documents these simulated training labs, a kind of Meth-architectural double uncanny.

This meth-emergency architecture has spawned another meth-museum. Though here, the police experience all they are missing. Baudrillard’s false-false teeth can be heard grinding from his grave.

Practice Meth Labs: The First Meth-Lab in Space

In what may be one of the headiest Meta-Meth-architectural dreams, a Nasa contractor has built a meth lab in space.

And doesn’t it feel like We’ve been waiting to utter that sentence Our whole lives?

High above the online Second Life region called The Unknown is a small dark island floating in the upper stratosphere, which is an unlikely location to build a meth lab. Unless, say, you’re roleplaying a drug dealer with a dirigible- or as it turns out in this case, you’re a metaverse developer who wants to demonstrate SL’s utility as a simulation training tool for individuals who need to recognize real meth labs.

Fred Fuchs (the NASA contractor), has done what no meth lab cook has ever done before. He has taken a meth lab to the final frontier, where no police have ever been before. Yet, that is exactly what he wants law enforcement agents to do.  Find his meth lab. Fuchs wants all cops to know – when it comes to meth labs, they should expect the unexpected. Fuchs has hidden his meth lab so well, that even the DEA would have a hard time finding it or the pre-cursor chemicals or cooked meth that are located inside his lab.

Floating far above universities, corporate headquarters, and other buildings lies Fuch’s unreachable and untouchable meth lab, in a space where no one would think about investigating – in space. If the pigs are lucky enough to find out how to get to Second Life, they still have to find the lab, which might have asking other people on Second Life about where he is.

The space lab was built based on photos from police websites, and in Fuchs’ words: “We hope to encourage use of SL for training law enforcement and social workers. We found that a walk-thru helped other types of clients think about ways they could use SL… I wrote simulations for the International Space Station. Accuracy in simulations is ‘my thing'”

The lab is located high above Firesabre headquarters, though experienced SL explorers will know how to find it: direct SLurl teleport at this link.

Is this the ultimate timespace architecture and media of Meth?

Moving into A Meth Lab

“Meth labs, however, always have possibilities, being made and wrecked at the same time”.

With the proliferation of the meth lab, necessarily comes the proliferation the ex-lab. With so many homes potentially contaminated by methamphetamine production, meth experts estimate that thousands to tens of thousands of people have discovered that what they thought was the American dream–a nice home for the family–is actually an American nightmare, and the potential cause of a range of health problems and a stack of medical bills. For a vague, under-reported vision of the scope of ex-labs, visit the US DEA’s “Clandestine Labratory Register”, or peruse the list for a state like California

Here We take a brief tour of these toxic homes, which were once used to cook, and thence appear on the real estate market after the fire, the bust, or the move. Generally, a sensible estate agent will avoid mentioning the house’s past, and as We’ll see, there are many “innocent American families” now coming to inhabit ex-labs. Note: Meth labs don’t adhere to class real-estate boundaries.

The Times point out that meth production chemicals “can permeate drywall, carpets, insulation and air ducts, causing respiratory ailments and other health problems.”  It also quoted experts to the effect that living in a former meth house puts children at greater risk of developing learning disabilities or long-term respiratory and skin problems. And the risk wasn’t limited to kids. A 2007 study in Denver found that more than 70% of the police who were called in to inspect meth labs later reported health problems. Upon moving into a meth house, people have experienced short-term health problems ranging from migraines and respiratory difficulties to skin irritation and burns. Long-term problems are less well known, but the results from a 2009 study in Toxological Sciences suggest that methamphetamine chemicals may cause cancer in humans. And because children have small, developing bodies and a tendency to play on the ground and architectural surfaces and lick or put things in their mouths, they are especially susceptible to adverse health effects from meth toxins in a building. “When we go into a [meth] lab, if there are children, the first thing we do is take the children to the hospital and assess them for contamination,” said Narcotics officer Jeff Smith.

Now, Discover Magazine has published a must-read update on the extent of the problem – and it makes for a sobering read. Apparently, about the only thing you can do if you find your house has been a meth lab is tear the whole place apart down to the bare studs and start over, with new electrical, new insulation, new plumbing, and new drywall. Even if a meth house is cleaned properly, some experts worry that meth toxins may hang around.

Meth Lab Homes (http://methlabhomes.com), a site dedicated to those who’ve unwittingly bought Meth houses, and to preventing anyone else from doing so, goes into a more practical side of Meth-Estate. From their ‘MethLab 101’ guide to how to pick meth architecture clues and traces, under titles like “Stains”, “Strange Plumbing”, and including tell-tale aftereffects of a meth lab, sections detailing the lacklustre housekeeping habits of tweakers, to lists of possible warning smells, worth reproducing in its heady entirety here:

What does a meth lab smell like?

– Smells like a hospital due to the common use of ethyl ether as an anesthetic. Nasal irritant. Ether-like: Aromatic, sweet odor often accompanied by a sweet taste.

– Smells like paint thinners, paint removers, adhesives, and cleaning fluids. Type of odor often found in auto body shops or furniture refinishing shops. Eye and nasal irritant.

– Smells like odor found in vinegar, mayonnaise, salad dressings or pickled food. Pungent, acrid, or sour smell. Eye irritant.

– Smells like wet diapers, glass cleaners, cattle feed-lots, or fertilizers. A sharp, irritating odor.  Eye and nasal irritant.

See also Methlab Homes’ video: Meth homes are a costly cleanup.

The site also collects the (often tawdry) stories of ‘innocent families’ who’ve mistakenly bought a Meth house. Most feature a narrative of revelation, suspicion. Accounts of the  architectural details, clues, and invisible effects of the Meth architecture, and how it has come to effect their lives/psyche. Our personal favorite: The Bates Family: Three tours in Iraq and and now a meth lab home.


Domestic Alchemy & The Meth-Organism in Architecture

Following the sim-lab further, We arrive back in the contemporary art space.

2009’s “Black Acid Co-op”, an immense, labor-intensive, maniacally contrived walk-through installation environment that is a warren of some dozen rooms, interiors and passageways. It includes a burned-out home methamphetamine lab, a red-carpeted gallery of pseudo-artworks and a hippie haven. Its disparate spaces sustain ever-closer readings and parsings, like a series of archaeological-architectural sites in perpetual excavation…

 

“Black Acid Co-op” is the work of the New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. It is the third incarnation of “Hello Meth Lab in the Sun,” which opened last spring at Ballroom Marfa, Texas.

The heart of the piece is the meth kitchen, crawling with plastic tubes, jammed with glass jugs and beakers and littered with full and empty boxes of the over-the-counter cold medicines that are chief among the ingredients of the drug’s simple but dangerous recipe. In a grim before and after, this kitchen is reached through a ghost of itself: the charred remains of another lab in conjoined trailers destroyed by a meth-making explosion.

Careful attention to detail is obvious throughout this mammoth effort. Nothing is accidental. The room-by-room shifts in reality have been aptly compared to jump-cut scenes in a film, with each door or — more likely — each hole in the wall introducing a different form of delusional retreat from the larger world, with architectural space and chronologic markers standing in for moral movement (like the geologic/geographic-moral equivalence in Conrad’s Kurtz). The varieties of societal detachment wending through the piece are echoed in recurring meditations on voyeurism, display and the remove of art and the museum. According to their press, Black Acid Co-Op is the moniker for a “counter-culture enclave embedded in the metropolis”. In this incarnation, the artists focus on the production of illegal drugs and “sites of sub-cultural groups and how they are situated in the larger urban environment”. The installation expands on the notions relating to the connection between counter-culture and industrial society “resulting in a spatial collage that extends itself into a vast architectural setting”.

The Meth Lab here is a site of transubstantiation and transmutation in which highly illegal and universally scorned alchemical practice wages  war with straight time and architecture. The legal, everyday domestic objects- batteries, cold meds, vacuum hoses-  are cooked into Uppers and $ using alchemy’s method of homespun experimentalism, bonding unlikely ingredients and ushering in a secular, psychosis-mysticism that infects the spaces. In the lab not only are materials transformed, their intended uses are subverted along with consumerism’s tenets of freedom, happiness and choice. The lightly veiled intimacy between the lawful and the deviant is put on display.

Psychosis, decrepitude and paranoia are explicated architecturally, invoking the rituals of occult production and space. And what is perhaps subliminal in the meth labs explored above, becomes obvious here- that the architecture and paraphenalia of the meth lab is an organism. Ducts, wires and tubes traverse rooms creating a semblance of an organism: architecture as body, electricity as capillaries, and volumes as organs.  As an architectural hybridization and transformation, the intended use of many of the sites is bent: factories have become homes, kitchens, car trunks, trucks, etc are used as labs.

Disappointingly, as another example of sim-meth, this time trafficking in the abject affect of the meth-space, this gallery Meth Lab suggested fear, anxiety, paranoia, and intoxication from a comfortable, almost academic remove. These artists don’t attempt to get “political”- although you could get Marxist about the practice of fabricating an expensive facsimile of down-rent environs for “aesthetic” consumption in downtown NYC. Instead, Meth Lab collapsed the old triad of transgressivity- sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll- into a architectural cliche fit for family (i.e art community) viewing.

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Speculative Literature | 7 Comments »

Participatory SURVEILLANCE & Psychovideography: “Virtual Border Watch”, Pay-CCTV, & Military Ghost Webcams

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on November 10, 2010

Contents:

– Introduction: “The geo- is now in the video”

– Virtual Deputies on the Texas Border

– A participatory Panopticon on your street?: Citizens ‘Crime Control’ & “Internet Eyes”

– CCTV, Psychovideography & The Cinematic Dream of Surveillance City

– Ghost Webcams in military space


Introduction: “The geo- is now in the video”

As part of a larger Fauxist project on ‘An Anthropology of Telepresence’- investigating UAV’s and colonisation, the NeoConOpticon, Drone wars, Sim Arch-  this publication outlines 4 instances of recent Participatory Surveillance- Texas Border Watch, Asbo TV, Internet Eyes, and Ghost Webcams in military space- & looks at how these relate to the dreams of constant surveillance in Psychovideography (a take on the Situationists Psychogeography, updated for the virtualisation of space in which “The geo- is now in the video”).

This article focuses on participatory surveillance using webcams, and instances that exhibit a mix of public-private deployments, governments and councils teaming up with tech companies to outsource surveillance to the public eye. The use of public subscriber webcams and public access CCTV- citizen surveillance facilitated by government-corporate interests. Citizen patrol and report on borders, criminality (from organised crime, ‘anti-social behaviour’, to shoplifting), and look at the various incentives and motivations etc.

Key terms in this field include:

– Responsibilization,

– Vigilance

– The Securitisation and Criminalisation of immigration

– Sousveillance and Synopticism

The Rise of the “Participatory Panopticon”

Jamais Cascio has written and spoken numerous times about an emerging “Participatory Panopticon” and the cultural shift when consumers themselves assume the reins of societal surveillance through the ubiquity of cell phones, pocket-cams, municipal free wi-fi networks, and the proliferation of mobile communications networks across the urban grid.

Cascio focuses on consumer technologies- namely personal electronic devices- as providing the means for such a shift in scale and nature of surveillance: “In the world of the participatory panopticon, this constant surveillance is done by the citizens themselves, and is done by choice. It’s not imposed on us by a malevolent bureaucracy or faceless corporations. The participatory panopticon will be the emergent result of myriad independent rational decisions, a bottom-up version of the constantly watched society.”

This notion of individual citizens keeping a technological eye on the people in charge is referred to as “sousveillance,” a recent neologism meaning “watching from below”  (in comparison to “surveillance,” meaning “watching from above).” Proponents of the notion see it as an equalizer, making it possible for individual citizens to keep tabs on those in charge.

Whilst We find Cascio’s ideas intriguing- the Little Big Brother- We find structural melds and crossovers of government-corporate, military-industrial and citizen surveillance most interesting, due to its organizing powers, scope and moral compulsion. The following examples of participatory surveillance serve to demonstrate some elements of Our thinking in this area.

Virtual Deputies on the Texas Border

Witness the rise of trans-border videogeographic neighborhood-watch.

'Illegal Immigrants' on Border Watch Webcam

In 2008, the US launched a real-time interactive internet site, the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program, which shows real-time video from the US – Mexico border.

By using this site, anyone who wishes to participate in the US border control can have access to a network of webcams that feed 24/7 live streaming video showing the border. One just needs to sign up to the campaign’s website and the images from the cameras can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an online computer. From the website, it is possible to use a hot line in order to alert the authorities to any activity perceived as ‘suspicious’. An alert is sent to the Texas Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, who decide whether to take action.

The programme is governed as a public–private partnership with a company called BlueServo and a $2million donation from the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, in 2008 and another $2million in 2009.

At this point, there are 23 cameras placed at ‘strategic crossing points’. Since the site went live in November 2008, it has received more than 50 million hits, and more than 130,000 people have registered to become ” virtual deputies”. They are located as far afield as Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, New Zealand and the UK.

Another facet of this program is the ability of the public to connect their own cameras to www.BlueServo.net to create local Virtual Neighborhood WatchesSM in order to protect their own homes, neighborhoods, and families from criminal acts. These Virtual Neighborhood WatchesSM can, in turn, be connected to form additional Virtual Community WatchesSM.

Leisure Time

Hence You, Our ever-vigilant reader, are invited to switch on your computer, eat some Val, sit comfortably in your easy chair and start watching. Before you start enjoying your exciting virtual journey, there are two warnings. First, it might not be as exciting as you expected. Most of the time, there is nothing to see on the long deserted borderline. The river is flowing, leaves are shivering in the wind and occasionally some birds are flying past the camera. Whenever you see cows walking on the river banks, it feels like witnessing action. The landscapes are very slow. But indeed, you can just open the window beside the latest episode of True Blood and keep half an eye out for the vampiric illegal aliens in Texas whilst the ‘other vampire drama’ unfolds…

[Phyllis] Waller, a border camera watcher in Oklahoma, said she

spends about an hour each evening after work during the week and a

little more time during the weekend patrolling the border online. Her

other Internet pastime, she said, is watching a site that tracks bald

eagles. “I watch eagles and illegals. That’s a fun thing to do,” she said.

[. . .] “I’m interested in decreasing the number of illegals,” she said. “I

don’t care if they come over as long as they do it legally. I don’t like

the drugs, I don’t like the crime”

(El Paso Times, 11 July 2009).

 

When Robert Havercamp, a truck driver from South Texas, sees them on

his computer screen, he says: “I don’t know what’s in those duffle bags

but it’s a good, strong possibility . . .” “It could be clothes. It could be mar-

ijuana. It could be cocaine. It could be methamphetamine. Or it could be a

bomb,” he said. “We were invaded in 2001; you want that again?” . . .

“Sometimes I’ll pull an all-nighter, because the bad guys gonna wait

’til late at night to do anything,” Havercamp said

(CBS News, 6 February 2009).

 

When her baby girl takes an afternoon nap, or on those nights when she

just can’t sleep, Sarah Andrews, 32, tosses off her identity as a suburban

stay-at-home mom and becomes something more exotic: a “virtual

deputy” patrolling the U.S. – Mexico border. From her house in a

suburb of Rochester, New York, Andrews spends at least four hours a

day watching BlueServo.net. . . . “Today, there’s a couple

vehicles that are parked side by side next to each other,” she said by

phone, her seven-month-old cooing in the background, “but I can’t tell

what’s going on, you know?”

(CNN, 12 March 2009).

 

“I don’t have to know right from wrong…Perhaps they’re just fishing…”: A BBC interview with Les Stout, Virtual deputy, who expounds many of the key tenets We explore below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/03/100316_webcam_border_wt_sl.shtml

Imperial Interactivity

It is generally the case that the authorities are as creative in harnessing the new technologies for their own purposes as anybody else. For all of the tawdry webcam art, CCTV work and hyperbolic ‘Interactivity’ rhetoric in the contemporary art world (like the field of Bioarts when compared to the innovations of biopiracy, biometrics etc), the practices and draw of BlueServo far outstrip most critical work in the field.

In fact, the description of technologies used on the border (weaponized UAV’s and cyborg vehicles etc), and the essentially static geographical/topographical relationship of the Virtual Border Watch makes the webcams look like a ‘natural’- or even technologically quite modest- new stage in a continuum of technological control. It also seems self-evident, that along with other techniques, the online community would also be harnessed to support borderwork. Even so, since the other forms of technology are strictly controlled by the authorities, in its interactivity the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program proves not to be part of a continuum, but rather a new stage in the politics of surveillance and borderwork.

The program is a perfect example of synopticism: many watching few instead of few watching many (as in the Panopticon, for example).  As Haggerty (2006, p. 33) argues, ‘it matters enormously who is actually conducting surveillance’. The hype about interactivity has been accompanied by critical notions. Andrejevic (2007, p. 213) accurately points out that ‘interactivity is becoming synonymous with asymmetrical forms of monitoring, information gathering, and surveillance’.

VR: Vigilance and Responsibilisation.

Two key terms regarding citizens and surveillance/security culture: Vigilance and Responsibilisation.

The rhetoric of vigilance has increased, and interestingly in this example, vigilance also highlights that citizens are not just mere objects of surveillance (although they very much still are also that), but can work as active agents of surveillance.

Scholars have argued that fear has lately become an omnipresent state of living which “takes root in our motives and purposes, settles in our actions and saturates our daily routines”. Fear is creating a moral pressure towards individuals asking “not only keeping ourselves safe but also in evaluating the conduct of others” (Mythen and Walklate, 2006, p. 136; emphasis added). Thus the BorderWatch programme plays a part in the social construction of suspicion. The programme makes evident that it is “the bordering process, rather than the borders per se” (Newman, 2006, p. 144) that is crucial. Furthermore, fear as a situated experience and fear as a transformation of visual culture are increasingly connected. To capture images (of almost anything/anybody) can easily be explained within the rhetoric of security.

Gradually, the movement of people has been increasingly posed as a risk. In this securitisation of immigration, immigration is perceived as a security problem (Bigo, 2002). This does not necessarily relate to concrete threat (of terrorism) but to perceived unease which is channelled against the Other. Again, this is outsourced to private companies, with profit motives and feeds a growing sector of private  ‘Immigration Prisons’ in the US. The NPR report below explores this further.

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130833741&m=130878467&t=audio
see also: http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/tag/alec/

This brings up the issue of responsibilisation. Responsibilisation activities “rest implicitly upon an assumption that the state alone cannot guarantee security” (Herbert, 1999, p. 151). The authorities “actively enlist participation of non-state actors and agencies and thus share the burden of controlling unwanted social phenomena”.

The Texas Virtual Border Watch Program also applies well to the changing idea of the location of borders. As many scholars have argued, borders are currently understood as being spread all around societies rather than locating merely on the border areas. Visual images create interaction between virtual and material spaces, hence blurring different levels of reality. The transborder dimensions of border policing blur the boundaries between internal and external spheres of policing and security policies (Aas, 2005). This phenomenon shifts our attention from ‘the state’ and sovereignty narrowly conceived to more nebulous realms where the sensibilities, ideologies, desires, and numerous other forces that constitute ‘statecraft from below’ are played out’ (Doty, 2007, p. 118).

It is argued that the programme remains ‘cosmetic’ border control and that this echoes the dilemma between economic wellbeing and security issues. As the report above would indicate, such measures, however cosmetic, are part of a greater drive to leverage vigilantism and responsibilization for control and profit.

Finally, a brief look at possible hackings of the web-border. The U.S federal government has intelligence suggesting that drug smugglers themselves have logged on to BlueServo.net and used the cameras to make sure that Border Patrol agents are not at a certain location, and then quickly moved loads of drugs across the border at those points (The New York Times/The Lede, 26 March 2009). In the words of William Gibson, that grand-daddy of net-saturation: “The Street finds its own uses for things – uses the manufacturers never imagined”. Other reports find that a substantial number of logged ‘activity reports’ were ‘obviously hoaxes’. Our favourite instance being: “There are some men crossing the water. They have a bottle of tequila and a big hat”  (Homeland Security Newswire, 16 July 2009).

Participatory Panopticon on your street

“Enter the Prime Time television era of couch-potato crime-solving” Subtopia

A London bus-stop ad.

A number of programs involving citizens monitoring CCTV weblinks (& often paying to do so) to stop crime, anti-social activities, ‘terrorism’ and so on, have recently been initiated around the world. Serving to promote models of responsibilization and vigilance, and further to fill in the time before facial recognition and profiling technologies become sophisticated enough to allow supercomputers to do the work themselves?

According to Subtopia, as part of Tony Blair’s new “Respect” (pdf) program to try and legislate “proper social behavior” (a strategy even willing to evict people from their homes), residents of Shoreditch will become the first in Britain to receive “Asbo TV” — television beamed live to their homes from CCTV cameras on the surrounding streets.  In one of the poorest areas in the country, residents will have to pay £3.50 a week for the full package, after installing a little box offering 55 channels of “good old fashioned surveillatopia-surfing fun”.

Billed as a wonderfully oxymoronic “community TV security project”, viewers “will also be able to compare characters they see behaving suspiciously with an on-screen “rogues’ gallery” of local recipients of anti-social behavior orders (Asbos),” the Sunday Times reports. They will then be able to use “an anonymous e-mail tip-off system to report to the police anyone they see breaching an Asbo or committing a crime.”

A notably similar program was announced for the US only a few years ago in the New York Times. The difference is that in the US they plan to force people to watch the system either over their computer or cable system. Though, interestingly, watching it will be classified as ‘public service’ to pay for speeding tickets and eventually as a mandatory function of your civil defense Homeland Security draft duties.

One imagines whole prisons fitted out with CCTV rooms, captive populations… being watched themselves by CCTV… Starting at two hours a week and, if you wish to be paid, upwards of twenty hours a week, you will monitor the cameras for signs of terrorism and also, as admitted in the New York Times piece, for crime.

A third contemporary example is the poetically named ‘Internet Eyes’, this time designed to curb shoplifting (as we well know that no one watches shop cameras).

'Internet Eyes' screenshot.

Internet Eyes is an online “instant event notification system” allowing registered ‘Viewers’ at home to monitor live CCTV feed from ‘Business Customers’, and notify them ‘the instant a crime is observed’. Internet Eyes will apparently pay up to £1,000 to subscribers who regularly report suspicious activity such as shoplifting. (For a  debunking of the company).

7000 people signed up in the first week of operation in England alone, and the company believes that international viewers will further swell the ranks. For example, the different time zones made Australia the ideal location for detecting night-time crime in the UK (“I would love people in Australia to be looking at this,” managing director Tony Morgan says), and conversely, the scheme could also be switched so that UK residents monitored cameras in Australian cities and so on ad nauseaum.

Example of 'Internet Eyes' Interface

One subscriber, Paul from Hammersmith, cited both vigilance and responsibaliztion when he told the BBC News website he thought it was his civic duty to sign up:

“We’re in a time of austerity and there has been a reduction in the budgets of police and local authorities but by doing this, I feel I can help. It will help people feel safe and secure and it’s not like putting a camera in your house. These are in public places. I hate criminality and if I can help stop it, I will.”

Psychovideography

Dostoyevsky’s murderer would stand no chance here..

The Fauxists are also interested in the aesthetic/psychological histories and affect of such programs as those discussed above. We have long evinced an interest in psychogeography, which We’ve extended to encompass psychosisgeography, cryptogeography & military urbanism, drug architecture (1 & 2), dream architecture & near death experiences (& etc).

An article by Geoff M. of BLDG BLOG, develops the term ‘psychovideography’- regarding “the videographic psyche of the city”- the psychological effects of generalized and predominantly invisible surveillance- and in discussing the NYC CCTV system mentioned above, Manaugh frames such a project in terms of film/cinema and architecture. His work is worth quoting at length:

“And so now New York City may attempt to install the total cinematic dream that has consumed London’s private security firms for the past three decades, lost as they are in the Warholian ecstasy of filming every last centimeter of urban space, week after month after year, in what is surely the largest outright expenditure of cinematic ambition since… perhaps since film began… But to introduce a new term here, we would find ourselves discussing not *psychogeography* – that outdated fetish of a new crop of uninspired theses, from Princeton to the AA – but *psychovideography*, the videographic psyche of the city. If security firms are the new providers of our urban unconscious, a hundred thousand endless films recording twenty-fours a day, indefinitely, then we should perhaps find that the outdated methodologies of the psychogeographers have hit an impasse. The geo- is now in the video-, as it were, and the -graphy survives just the same. Throw in some 24-hour psycho-, and we begin to see the city through the lens of an unacknowledged avant-garde: a subset of the film industry whose advance front has taken on the guise of security… The response: psychovideography. Endless filming. Install the umbrella of a total cinema and move freely into the next phase of urbanism: fortress urbanism… ‘Security’ is a red herring; we are witnessing instead the triumphal rearing-up of an unconscious cinematic fantasy.”

Subtopia goes on to ask: “in the age of “panoptic urbanism”, with millions of CCTV cameras streaming an ongoing meta-history of all our lives together across an incomprehensibly fragmented screen of cinematic terrestrial optometry, I, too, wonder, would you rather be watched by computers, or people? Can we rely on future detection systems to make accurate judgments in all their algorithmic pattern-gazing automatonist wizardry?”. (See here for hilarious current US army work in the area). Interestingly, these forms of digital criminal anthropometry and biometrics are uncannily like the outdated phrenology and craniometry. with their associated criminological and racialist baggage, the only difference is that the database becomes animated and searches for itself. Possibilities suggest themselves for the performance of a criminal type, a posture, the suspicious tic, and working into the database of nervous behaviours would seem a goldmine for deconstructive dancers…

In literary terms, the experience and cultural/architectural significance of watching these forms of CCTV could be captured in a 1000 page novel called “The Possibility of A Crime” describing part of a floor of a parking garage in blurry grayscale… Or something from late Beckett meets Proust?

Subtopia goes on to discuss possible developments of participatory surveillance involving video-gaming and gamers to work in sim/real space to monitor crime and patrol space. By mixing elements of skill and endurance-based reward and narrative progression with monitoring and surveillance, a generation of tween tweakers could take up the reins of the particpatory surveillance self-state…

Ghost webcams in military space:

(Project Excerpt)

This project investigates the uses and intents of webcams installed on military spaces- former battlefields, installations etc- as part of a project on Cryptogeography, Military Urbanism, and an Anthropology of Telepresence. By interrogating webcams monitoring supposedly haunted military space or ‘equipment’ (like the USS Lexington’s aft engine room Ghost- the webcam showing the “Turbine and miscellaneous gauges of the aft engine room… where the spectre is most often sighted”) or for the ghosts/spirits of battlefiedls- particularly those of mythic-historic, nationalist importance, like the Gettysburg Battlefield Ghostcam (with timelapse compilations), We hope to explore the significance of military ghosts in contemporary politics in terms of belonging, memory, recreationism and monumentality.

Other notable instances of the many haunted battlefields include: Oriskany Battlefield, Shiloh National Military Park, and Stones River BattleField In Murfreesboro TN

_____

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Bibliography:

“WEbcam Border Patrol” http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/webcam-border-patrol/#ixzz11vU0GPKb

Koskela, Hille(2010) ‘Did You Spot an Alien? Voluntary Vigilance, Borderwork and the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program’, Space and Polity, 14: 2, 103 — 121

O’Donnell, S.;   Richard, M.;   Turning Municipal Video Surveillance Cameras Into Municipal Webcams Technology and Society, 2006. ISTAS 2006. IEEE International Symposium on 8-10 June 2006

Subtopia/ name “The Panoptic Arcade”  “THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2006

BLDG BLOG/Geoff M  “PSYCHOVIDEOGRAPHY / ‘FORTRESS URBANISM’

Schneier on Security: A blog covering security and security technology. “Now Everyone Gets to Watch the Cameras” January 11, 2006

Hille Koskela  ‘WATCH THE BORDER 24/7, ON YOUR COUCH’ : Texas Virtual Border Watch Program and the politics of informing

Dhruti Shah “CCTV site Internet Eyes hopes to help catch criminals” BBC News, 4 October 2010 Last updated at 03:36 GMT

BBC News “Public to monitor CCTV from home” Tuesday, 6 October 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8293784.stm 

“Participatory Panopticon at the Border” http://subtopia.blogspot.com/2006/11/participatory-panopticon-at-border.html

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security Industrial Complex “internet-eyes-the-privatisation-of-the-surveillance-society”

http://neoconopticon.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/internet-eyes-the-privatisation-of-the-surveillance-society/

http://www.peoplesrepublicofsouthdevon.co.uk/2010/10/01/spot-a-crime-and-win-cash-prizes-internet-eyes-launches-in-newton-abbot/

JOHN MARKOFF and JOHN SCHWARTZ “Many Tools of Big Brother Are Up and Running” NY Times, December 23, 2002  http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/23/technology/23PEEK.html

Is the “Internet Eyes” CCTV web monitoring “game” merely incompetent, or an actual scam ? By wtwu on October 10, 2009  http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/blog/2009/10/10/is-the-internet-eyes-cctv-game-merely-incompetent-or-an-actual-scam.html

Jamais Cascio “The Rise of the Participatory Panopticon” 4 MAY 05 http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002651.html

Alex Jones & Paul Joseph Watson, The Panopticon: A Mass Surveillance Prison For Humanity, PrisonPlanet.com, January 11 2006

David Murray “Internet Eyes to pay Australians for spying on UK shoplifters” The Courier-Mail October 15, 2009 http://www.news.com.au/technology/internet-eyes-to-pay-australians-for-spying-on-uk-shoplifters/story-e6frfro0-1225786976734#ixzz14Aok6AR1

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar | 1 Comment »

Fauxist Spirit Recording Project — Theory —

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on June 29, 2010

Back CD Cover & Tracklist: "Fauxist Spirit Mic Sessions" (2010)

“Fauxist Spirit Mic Sessions” (2010) CD available for download or purchase soon on NFTFI. A full investigations of its contents appears in the upcoming publication “The Fauxist Spirit Recording Sessions Habitat on 1475.0 kHz wave, Nie śpią tylko duchy: Transcripts & Descriptions of initial Fauxist experiments in EVP/ITS audio & Paranormal Politics”. (2010)

Contents:

1) Project Introduction

2) The Fauxist Spirit Microphone: History and theory.

– Hitler Heard Beneath Birdsong & The Ghost Orchid (EVP explained)

– White Noise Spirits & EVP

– Schizoanalysis, Degraded Voices & EVP Anthropology

– Burroughs & Backmasking: The Recorder’s Confessing Ghosts.

– The radiophonic Babel of war: Militant Listening in a Remorseless Sea of Noises

– Skeptics and Anti-Science

– Associated Fauxist Investigations- Subliminal Media, PSYWAR, Music Torture.

Associated Publications:

“Dialogues with A Dead Doctor: Two Conversations with Dr. Konstantin Raudive (1909–1974) In which he variously encourages the Fauxists in continuing their EVP investigations, speaks about what it’s like being dead, and the pop music of the afterlife”. (Transcripts From Spirit Mic Recording CD) (2009)

‘Out of Time, Place, Scale’: Cryptozoology & Neo-colonialism. Excerpts of Theory & Working Documents for “Hooray for Cryptozoology”: The Fauxist Cryptozoology Tapes” (2010)

UPCOMING: – “Hooray for Cryptozoology” The Fauxist Cryptozoology Tapes (2010)

– “The Fauxist Spirit Recording Sessions Habitat on 1475.0 kHz wave, Nie śpią tylko duchy: Transcripts & Descriptions of initial Fauxist experiments in EVP/ITS audio & Paranormal Politics”. (2010)

– “Exolanguages: SETI, Alien Literature, and voices of space…” (2009)

Project Introduction

“Naturalism has served as deceptively in the modern world as supernaturalism ever did in the past”

Kenneth Burke

“If we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.”

Thomas Edison

“If there is a spirit world full of the flotsam and jetsam of our military and mercantile civilization. If a door has been opened between this world and the next, then the masses armed with the cheap transistor sets and £5 Hong Kong tape recorders, will participate in this new Hydesville.”

R.A Cass

“an intricate universe of mysterious messages, morse tickings, modulated hisses, deformed, mangled human voices which pronounced sentences in incomprehensible languages or in code . . . messages of death . . . the radiophonic Babel of war” .

Primo Levi

This project refers overtly to the tape experiments conducted by Jürgenson and, Dr. Constantin Raudive, and the subsequent developments of the field of Electronic Voice Phenomena- otherwise known as Spirit Voices or ITS- as discussed below.

In interrogating the historical, political, and aesthetic discussions that colour the reception of this EVP noise, We study how this evidence (and how it is attributed variously to voices of the dead, angels, UFO’s etc) has been turned into a complex, often entrenched belief system of genuine anthropological interest, not least because the process entails the use of electronic technology to help construct, rationalize and validate a fundamentally anti-scientific belief system.

By simultaneously undertaking a sequence of increasingly aesthetically, technically and politically complex experiments into the field, We aim to produce a grounded foray into the techno-spirital, engaging, when necessary, with the ritualistic systems of both science and anti-science to further Our aims.

This publication outline the theory and background of the Fauxist’s work in EVP and associated fields in 2009-10.

As every new media technology has new forms of ghosts associated with it, EVP chases the ghost in the noise-machine, calling on traditional spiritualist, occultist, anthroposophical, and theosophical chanelling capacities and proclivities to plumb these inaccessible layers of human existence in a movement from traditional spirit-mediums to the electronic-medium.

The Fauxist Spirit Microphone: History and theory.

Hitler Heard Beneath Birdsong: The Ghost Orchid -EVP explained

Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) are voices and other utterances that appear on audiotape and digital media without the person/s being aware of it at the time the recording was taking place. In most examples of EVP, the voice or voices only speak a few words and some of the voices can be very distinct and yet others hardly coherent at all. (For online examples: [1])

EVP is a subcategory of Instrumental transcommunication or ITC which is the broader term used for investigative techniques of communication with the afterlife via ordinary common place electronic devices. This was originally done with magnetic tape recorders, but includes everything from telephones through to televisions, radios and even computers. EVP is also known as Electronic Disturbance Phenomena (EDP) and Trans-Dimensional Communication (TDC).

From the moment that human beings started communicating with electrical and electromagnetic signals, the ether has been a spooky place. Four years after Samuel Morse strung up his first telegraph wire in 1844, two young girls in upstate New York kick-started Spiritualism, a massively popular occult religion which attempted to fuse science and seance. One of the movement’s main newspapers was called “The Celestial Telegraph,” and many of the spirits contacted by mediums were electricity geeks. Totally legitimate scientists like Thomas Edison, the radiographer Sir Oliver Lodge, and Sir William Crookes (inventor of the cathode ray tube) all suspected that spirits were real and that the afterlife was electromagnetic in nature. Edison even built a device to communicate directly with the dead.

Electronic voice phenomena came to light in 1959 when the Swedish filmmaker Friedrich Juergenson unwittingly captured voices on audiotape. After recording birdsong in a forest, Juergenson discovered on playback that there were “voices” buried in the field recordings, notably a distinct male voice remarking about birdsong at night! Listening carefully, Juergenson also heard the voice of his deceased Mother. After his discovery, Juergenson went on to record hundreds of ‘spirit voices’ (his archive came to encompasses some eight hundred reels of tape) for the following four years and consequently published a book in Swedish in 1964 called “Rosterna Frdn Rymden” (“Voices From The Universe”) in 1964, “Sprechfunk mit Verstorbenen” (Radio-Link with the Dead) in 1967, and “Radio och Mikrofonkontakt med de Dda” (“Radio Contact With The Dead”) in 1968.

Jurgenson

Raudive

With the help of tape-recorder, microphone and radio he was able to hear voices on tape which he called “voices from space”; that these voices did not belong to any other “physical” world, but to a world in contrast to ours, a spiritual world; that the voices were those of the dead.

Later translated into German, Juergenson’s writings caught the attention of Dr Konstantin Raudive, a Latvian Psychologist. Dr Raudive was at first skeptical of Juergensons’ claims but after many successful experiments, he too recorded hundreds of voices-  allegedly making tens of thousands of recordings- including that of his own deceased Mother. As these experiments progressed, microphone recording was given up in favor of recording from radio receivers set to non-broadcast areas of white noise. Dr. Raudives experiments have influenced generations of experimental musicians and spiritualists alike, and his tapes still constitute one of the greatest noise archives in the world.

Jürgenson’s and Raudive’s tapes attracted the Fauxists even as a form of a-compositional music. The implication was that the signal being inscribed on the tape in Raudive’s experiments had nothing to do with the recording process; the voices were not audible in the room and thus must have found their way onto the tape in some manner other than through the microphone. If this is the case, “Why record at all?” is the obvious next question; why not simply amplify the natural “hiss” of blank magnetic audiotape?

Another researcher, Attila von Szalay, has made similar tapes with no signal entering the recorder at all. He simply held the end of a wire jacked into the recorder so that his body acted as a “microphone.” (Since the early Forties, von Szalay, an American, has been trying to record the mysterious voices that he hears, first on a record cutter, then on an early wire recorder.) These recordings sound, basically, like amplified white noise, and must be listened to very carefully to discover the “voices” buried within them. The voices on these tapes are said to consist of snippets of phrases, in various languages, and at different speeds. All of these particular researchers concluded that these voices were those of the dead.

Since the late 50’s, many people have recorded voices on audiotape and now digital media and the obtaining of EVP samples has become common practice in the activities of those investigating paranormal activity. The tape voice phenomenon came to wide public attention with the publication of Raudive’s book Breakthrough in 1971.

EVP is at heart a DIY affair, especially now that computers have given us studios-in-a-box (e.g. EVP maker software). The EVP industry now encompasses many amateur paranormal seekers, and has been the subject of renewed interest upon the rise of noise, glitch and electronic/ found sound work, which has reopened such recordings as valid in their own right (i.e as sound), though predominantly without investigating the claimed EVP-spirit content. In other words, the resurgence of interest in Raudive’s tape experiments has more to do with contemporary musical tastes than in their spiritualist content. With the rise of Electronica as a popular musical form, the history of electronic sound production is being scoured for source material.

In this environment, the tape hiss that is considered distortion in Raudive’s recordings ­ as that which hides their true content: the voices ­ is now the object of primary interest. The hiss is the content, and the search for voices within it is now considered a kind of charmingly naive sublimatory excuse to revel in the pleasures of electronic sound.

White Noise Spirits and EVP

“If we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.”    Thomas Edison

The style of a typical EVP recording is as follows: a narrator introduces “contacts” that manifest as brief bursts of distorted voice accompanied by very high levels of radio interference and what appears to be machine noise picked up from the recording apparatus by a microphone. The examples are repeated several times, and the ambience of the recordings is menacing. A typical EVP process involves prompting the imagination by asking questions of deceased “entities” out loud- in the manner of a Spiritualist seance- and recording and then repeatedly analyzing any signals that have emerged. (See section on Burroughs below). Thus, despite focus on the characteristics of the voices themselves, one of the most important requirements for good EVP is the presence of noise: a distorted channel, interference, echo, superimposition.

Lyall Watson, the author of ‘Super Nature’, states that a tape recording always seems to pick up more background noise than there is in a real-life situation. This is true. We are programmed in such a way as to screen out as much extraneous information as possible, otherwise we would not be able to deal with the amount of external stimuli that bombards us constantly. A tape recorder does much the same thing that putting a seashell, or a simple tube, up to our ear does ­ it makes us aware of the amount of white noise that surrounds us continuously. Much of the technology of EVP-spiritualism is designed to re-introduce this white noise into our perceptual range. Indeed, many early spiritualist electronic devices took as their starting point the medium’s speaking trumpet, listening tube, or cabinet. These were all simple tools meant to amplify the paranormal voices supposedly channeled through the medium. Used as enclosures for electronic amplification or recording, these objects produced an effect similar to that of the seashell ­ they accentuated the white noise.

For example, in listening to a tape by Raudive, one is hyper-conscious of the fact that the distortion of the recording process is the primary experience. This distortion is much louder than the “voices” buried within it. This is so much the case that one is compelled to question whether there are voices there at all; they might only be projective audio hallucinations induced in the listener by the general uninflected nature of the white noise. The detection of voices in the tape hiss could be considered analogous to the recognition of imagery in Rorschach blots.

Historicizing the relationships between EVP and channeling, possession, mediums etc is important. The experiments of Jürgenson and Raudive are part of a long spiritualist history of attempts at communication with the dead. What differentiates the likes of Jürgenson and Raudive from their 19th Century spiritualist predecessors is that the human “medium,” the person who acts as conduit for the voice of the departed spirit, has been replaced with an electronic device. As soon as electronic communication devices were invented, the same technical principles were applied to spirit communication. Plans exist, attributed to Thomas Edison, for a “telephone” to communicate with the dead. He is known to have been working on such a device in the Twenties. Edison and Marconi both believed that radio technology might enable contact with the afterlife-an idea that fit well within the context of Victorian enthusiasm for various forms of Spiritualism. Both Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison believed in the possibility of using new recording devices to contact the dead, or the “living impaired,” to use Edison’s uncanny twenty-first century term. Sir William Crooks, President of the Royal Society and inventor of the cathode ray tube, and Sir Oliver Lodge, one of the leading contributors to radio technology, believed the other world to be a wavelength into which we pass when we die.

The following section will take an anthropological view of EVP and theosophy-spiritualism, asking: “who or what is talking?”, “who is listening and for what?” and so on. Such questions help to draw out possibilities for the investigation and use of EVP media and techniques in Our context.

Schizoanalysis, Degraded Voices and EVP Anthropology

One issue that We hope to address through the use of EVP, trance channelers etc, is the so-called “schizophrenic” nature of much contemporary life, and indeed, art. Much of the rhetoric of this aesthetic is indebted to the writings Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Instead of describing schizophrenia as pathological, Deleuze and Guattari stress the positive aspects of the condition, praising the schizophrenic’s capacity to range across mental fields to transcend the bureaucratization of the mind. They dismiss the psychoanalytic desire to interpret unconscious production, which they describe as having no significance or meaning. Non-meaning, thus naturalized, becomes the basis for an abstract, and anti-critical, aesthetic ­ one that, on the surface, emulates the “schizophrenic” effect of fracture.

One aspect of the so-called voice phenomenon that is often commented upon is the meaningless and garbled nature of the recorded utterances. This has been explained as the result of faulty reception of spirit transmission, or ­ more interestingly ­ as representing the degraded mental state of the “spirits.” The scrambled babblings on the tapes have been interpreted as the tortured voices of those in Hell, as the taunts of demons, or as the by-products of some numbing mental process that occurs after death. They could be described as schizophrenic; however, relative to the voice phenomenon, this description could hardly be understood as a positive one. Writers for the supernaturalist periodical Fate magazine, in response to Jürgenson’s recordings, came to the conclusion that “intelligence seems to deteriorate rapidly after death.” And, alarmed by the disjointed nature of the voices, psychic researcher R.A. Cass warned against the possible dangers of Raudive’s experiments being performed by non-professionals:

“If there is a spirit world full of the flotsam and jetsam of our military and mercantile civilization. If a door has been opened between this world and the next, then the masses armed with the cheap transistor sets and £5 Hong Kong tape recorders, will participate in this new Hydesville.”

Cass’s statement is reminiscent of Theodor Adorno’s rants against mass culture’s frenzied infantilism, which are echoed in William Burroughs’ satiric depiction of a pop band whose “baby talk” lyrics send their listeners into ecstatic infantile abandon. In these examples, delirious response is not held up as something to emulate. An interesting parallel exists between the negative reading of the voice phenomenon as the pronouncements of base elemental beings, and as the equally dangerous by-products of a, purposely, regressive aesthetic.

Importantly, the imbecilic quality of the tape voices is not characteristic of the output of traditional mediumistic devices. Few examples of automatic writing, or even Ouija board pronouncements, are as garbled as the phrases in Raudive’s transcriptions. This kind of fractured language usage would be especially inappropriate if uttered by a human medium, whose portrayal of a specific persona is an important condition of their believability. In fact, mediums often tend to channel dead celebrities and famous historical figures, as if the same social hierarchies that exist in this world extend into the next/other. Compared to this cliched fixation with star system, unified psychology, and history as grand narrative, the confused and ambiguous nature of Raudive’s spirit voices comes off as positively contemporary- “Deleuzeian,” if you will. Ecstatic channelers who “speak in tongues”, may be the only comparable traditional medium.

The need to directly grapple with information is particularly strong today, given earth’s new skin of communications, the web of computers, data networks, satellites, modems, and monitors that some call the Net. The Net is as much our environment as the biosphere, and in itself will neither save us nor sentence us to doom. Information myths are already afoot, and many of them obscure as much as they illuminate.

Paranoid theorists undercover hidden networks of coded conspiracies which link every bit of data that has strayed into their path. UFO churches, the channelling fad (spiritualist TV) and Starseed transmissions all point to literalist cults of information, where the messages received are uncritically celebrated as revealed truth even as the “messages” themselves often consist of bad SF plots or a noisy haze of New Age jargon. Many evangelical Protestants believe that technology exists not only to spread the pure signal of God’s Word across the globe, but to help bring about the apocalypse itself. Citing Matthew 24:14 (“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”), some even hold that the angels in Revelation refer to global satellites.

This contrast of unified psychological portrayal with meaningless glossolalia might be made to echo the shift in meaning of white noise from deep meaning to surface meaning  from that which contains hidden mysteries (spirit voices), to that which is simply disposable popular product (Techno music).

For Michel Serres, the play of information involves three actors—the sender, the receiver, and noise, which he calls “the third man” or the “parasite” (in French, bruit parasite means background noise/static- bruit meaning noise/sound/rumour, parasite in a telecommunications context revealingly meaning interference- thus rumours/interference).  The sender and the receiver set up a system of communication to defeat the third man, the demon of noise. But Serres’ genius is to recognize that these three actors themselves form a total system, and that the demon parasite paradoxically forces the two other actors to integrate on a more holistic level. Its a matter of a change of perspective: what looks like noise (or a demon) from one level becomes an integral aspect of a dynamic system from a more integrated level.

Undoubtedly, a complex two-way relationship between the spiritual and the technological.

Burroughs & Backmasking: The Recorder’s Confessing Ghosts.

William Burroughs was interested in the tape voice phenomenon and wrote an essay, It Belongs to the Cucumbers, detailing his thoughts on the tape experiments of Raudive. The transcriptions of Raudive’s “voices” reminded Burroughs of schizophrenic speech or dream utterances, and he proposed that the voices might be “a backplay of recordings stored in the memory banks of the experimenters,” instead of the voices of the dead. They were, perhaps, recordings of the unconscious. Perhaps, Burroughs was hoping to cut the pre-recorded time line of pre-sent time, and let the future leak through.
Burroughs famously used tape recorders to ‘write’, compositionally (cut-ups), and in investigating space and time, and their use/the technique appears in many of his novels (notably “Nova Express” 1964). In Nova Express, he described a series of elaborate, even hallucinatory, assemblages of tape recorders and microphones that could be carried from city to city. Borderless, these roving sound installations, with their capacity for instant playback, would blur the line between your own thought processes and the sounds of the city around you. Like Muzak, Burroughs’s legion of rogue microphonists could thus “bypass the resistance of the mind,” installing a soundtrack where there once had been thought. (For audio, see: http://www.ubu.com/sound/burroughs.html)

Burroughs would leave recorders running whilst he slept, and would randomly edit and re-order the resulting tapes… sometimes believing them to contain the voices of the dead. His recorder picked up Hitler, Goethe, Nietzsche and Hibiscus amongst the dead voices. He approached the voices like a detective, deducing from them secret messages, and acting upon their clues and exhortations. Furthermore, Burroughs demonstrated that one cannot simply pick up the little voices but should provoke them into being, in a sports-like manner, to see how many can be scared up in one day, in one hour, in one minute.

In Burroughs’ methodology, ambient audio recordings are made, then counter-edited: chopped up and slowed down, etc., in order to expose what he describes as the “control machine” ­ a prerecorded “grey veil” that separates you from true experience. These recordings could be compared to the tape collages of John Cage that are produced through random game-like strategies: the Williams Mix of 1952, for example. But the focus in Cage’s work is on pure aural experience; his works lack the critical intention at the root of Burroughs’ efforts. When Cage chops together tapes recorded at different locations, the changes in background hiss are experienced as tonal shifts ­ as music, and not as documents of specific places. The abstract qualities of his work are foregrounded since he denies any investment in his source materials. Burroughs’ focus on the political ramifications of the recording and editing process is much more compelling to Us.

Burroughs thus exhibits a politicized, active/assertive technique- which We hope to emulate and extend. His open treatment of linearity, narrative and authority are of key interest in this project.

The radiophonic Babel of war: Militant Listening in a Remorseless Sea of Noises

The documentary “Assigned to Listen” describes the “ether war” fought by BBC foreign-language radio monitors, who scanned the Second World War’s “remorseless sea of noises” for the broken voices, coded messages, news, propaganda, disinformation and entertainment broadcasts that fought for bandwidth with the incessant vagaries of ionospheric propagation and the turbulence of electrical and magnetic storms. BBC radio monitors recorded (often-weak) impulses onto primitive Ediphone wax-cylinder “transcribers” (magnetic tape recorders were not introduced until the end of World War II), further degrading the quality of discernible ‘intelligence’- military or otherwise.

As outlined in the reports of the trials below, Our theorizing of ‘Militant Listening’- the dedication and lateral-thinking necessary to truly engage with EVP and spirit phenomena, owes much to the situations and experiences of the radio monitors. Indeed our use of the term Monitor to describe an active, militant listener is a hopeful tribute to these workers. The monitor’s dedication, sitting for months a tiny workstation aurally adrift in the remorseless seas of noise, and the organizational capacity to fill offices with headphon’d devotees…

One of the most poetic of the WWII monitors was Primo Levi. Among the wartime experiences related in his autobiographical novel “The Periodic Table”, Levi recalled a laboratory test apparatus called a heterodyne, which, under certain conditions, functioned as a radio receiver. He described an “intricate universe of mysterious messages, morse tickings, modulated hisses, deformed, mangled human voices which pronounced sentences in incomprehensible languages or in code . . . messages of death . . . the radiophonic Babel of war” .

Much can be learnt from the military-industrial engagements with EVP/noise spirits, and especially now that the production of EVP/aural-spiritual phenomena is a part of the arsenal of the military.

How the voices voice

EVP’s or the so-called “voices from beyond”, are easily distinguishable from terrestial, human voices. They speak in an unmistakable rhythm and usually employ several languages in a single sentence; the sentence construction obeys rules that differ radically from those of ordinary speech and, although the voices seem to speak in the same way as we do, the anatomy of their “speech-apparatus” must be different from our own. Some have been alleged to sing, others just bark garbled or surrealistic phrases like “dead machines” and “We can see Edith by radio,” some of which apparently refer directly to the experimenter.

See this Standardized  EVP log sheet for examples of the categorization of voices, questioning and so on.

To summarise briefly:

1. The voice-entities speak very rapidly, in a mixture of languages, sometimes as many as five or six in one sentence. EVP’s tend to be very short sentences or single words.

2. They speak in a definite rhythm, which seems to be forced upon them by the means of communication they employ.

3. The rhythmic mode of speech imposes a shortened, telegram-style phrase or sentence.

4. Presumably arising from these restrictions, grammatical rules are frequently abandoned and neologisms abound.

5. The EVP is more often than not very specific to the person doing the recording or present in the same vicinity.

Furthermore, the microphone voices fall into three classes of audibility:

Class “A” voices can be heard and identified by anyone with normal hearing and knowledge of the language spoken; no special training of the ear is needed to detect them.

Class “B” voices speak more rapidly and more softly, but are still quite plainly audible to a trained and attentive ear. The ability to differentiate increases with practice, but this is a slow and wearisome process. For this reason it is difficult to use non-regular participants for experimental purposes with class “B” voices.

Class “C” consists of the most interesting voices; voices that give us a great deal of information and much paranormal data. Unfortunately, these can be heard only in fragments, even by a trained ear, but with improved technical aids, it may eventually become possible to hear and demonstrate these voices, which lie beyond our range of hearing, without trouble.

Class D, E and F-h voices: These extended classes are of particular interest, and are being…

Skeptics and Anti-Science

It certainly sounds fantastic to assert that we have made contact with spirit-beings, i.e. the dead, through tape recordings. Today, however, when more or less adequate technical devices are at our disposal, it is possible to test the facts by experiment and to lift them out of the realm of the fantastic. Tape-recorder, radio and microphone give us facts in an entirely impersonal way and their objectivity cannot be challenged.           Dr. Raudive

Science has long ignored or deplored the EVP/Spirit recording phenomenon/field. The scientific community’s ignorance of EVP would seem to indirectly support the spreading of this cult, as potential followers are confronted with convincing demonstrations that are only ‘explained’ by the quasi-religious musings of the convinced cultists.

Considering the low quality of almost all EVP recordings, and the unverifiable source conditions, outright forgery of such material would be absolute child’s play. The most primitive tape-recording and overdubbing techniques could easily produce phenomena of this nature- not least because the more basic the technology used, and the lower the signal-to-noise ratio, the more the finished product would resonate with an aura of menacing low-fidelity mystique, which could even help impart a subjective impression of authenticity to such material. Put simply, if the voices recorded had been of a quality comparable to conventional studio recordings of speech, then nobody would have believed such rubbish for a minute-the fog of noise that degrades these signals still seduces some people into suspending disbelief.

Some of the ‘voices’ are most likely people creating meaning out of random noise, a kind of auditory pareidolia (the illusion that something obscure is real) or apophenia (mentally connecting unrelated phenomena). These critiques essentially state: Humans are exceptionally wonderful at finding patterns in noise, the hardware in our sensory system is designed to see changes in things. So when we hear repeated sounds, our brain picks out and pieces together what sounds to us like spoken words. Therefore, if you listen to thousands of pieces of audio, you’ll eventually find one that sounds like a voice. “It’s the monkey on the typewriter issue.” EVPs are also sometimes referred to as “Rorschach audio,” after the psychological test in which subjects read their own interpretation of inkblot images.

Professor Chris French, who heads the anomalistic psychology research unit at Goldsmith’s College, London, agrees on the ambiguity of the phenomena: “According to modern experimental psychology, and not just with the paranormal, you’ve got two different sources [of stimulus] coming in. You’ve got the raw sensory input, referred to as ‘bottom-up’ processing, but because that comes in at a hell of a rate and a lot of it is very ambiguous and hard to make sense of, you are also influenced by what are known as ‘top-down’ processes – your general knowledge and beliefs and expectations.  “The ‘top-down’ processing tends to have much greater influence if you’ve got degraded or ambiguous stimuli. In those situations, your own beliefs and expectations will tend to determine how you perceive them.”

EVP researchers counter that the highly interactive communication they have engaged in would be impossible to discount as interference or brain tricks. Asking: “How can an interactive EVP, where the spirit is responding to my questions or commenting on my words, ever be considered interference?”

Professor Bender tries to interpret Spiritualistic phenomena as aspects of pathology in his “Mediumistische Psychosen” (Mediumistic Psychoses; Parapsychology, 1966, Pages 574 to 604). He describes Spiritualistic practices as “psycho-mechanic automatism” and explains them by means of what he calls “overflow pipes of the unconscious”: the belief that Spiritualists are in touch with the “world beyond” is erroneous, he asserts, for the Spiritualistic supposition that other-worldly intelligences, “spirits”, appear before us stems from the personification-tendency of the unconscious and these phenomena are encouraged by paranormally gifted automatists; alleged contact with the dead therefore has to be classified as a pathological phenomenon. “Many find solace and hope in the conviction that contact with the dead is possible, and they can defend their conviction by pointing to documents of some literary value containing such ‘messages from the beyond’ ” (page 576). In a nutshell: Professor Bender’s own observations, as well as existing literature on psychiatry, have prompted him to regard Spiritualistic practices as “mediumistic psychoses”.

Professor Bender’s term for functions provoked by such subconscious reactions is “psychic automatism”, and he distinguishes between a mechanical and a sensory form. The mechanical function manifests through subconscious processes of movement such as automatic writing, table-tilting, knocking, etc.; the sensory form through visions, voices, or haptic illusory experiences. His classic example is the shell, which acts as stimulus for acoustic pseudo-hallucinations. He regards acoustic hallucinations as rare occurrences in Spiritualistic practices. Acoustic voices, heard by Spiritualists or mystics alike, he describes as illusory acoustic perception. He explains it all as a “clever deception of the unconscious, which uses the normally incorruptible senses the moment the critical ratio of the patient is no longer convinced by former procedures–a sign of the strange split in the personalities of such Spiritualistic adepts” (page 584).

Professor Bender thus dismisses the Spiritualist’s hypothesis as pathological and so precludes any possibility of discussion. Spiritualists are, in his opinion, pathological cases in need of psychiatric treatment. He illustrates this belief with examples of his own observations from which he concludes: “Once more the affective shock becomes evident, induced by the misunderstood experience of the beyond and the functional dependence of the voices on the progressive development of complexes made autonomous through night-long experimenting with the pendulum” (page 599).

Clearly his view is that the Spiritualist hypothesis is a kind of psychic sickness which he tries to explain by what he calls “psychic automatism”, and he regrets that most psychologists dismiss the idea. His treatise ends with the following statement: ”The superstitious attitudes built on misunderstood communication with ‘spirit-beings’ are widespread and carry, as case histories show, the seeds of mental illness.”

With so many hobbyists at work, globally, so much sophisticated electronic equipment available, and so many advances in the field of electronics — it seems to Us that we can only look forward to an increasing accumulation of higher quality evidence. And, I’m not sure that the same could be said for any other area of paranormal inquiry these days.

EVP in Fiction

To illustrate the general acceptance of EVP in modern times, the subject has been immortalised in many works of fiction.

“Of Unknown Origin” by Edwin Rostron is inspired by the tape recordings of Raymond Cass, a hearing-aid specialist from Hull and one of the UK’s foremost researchers into EVP.   Through a series of fragmentary scenes rendered in pencil and watercolour animation we enter into an unsettling territory somewhere between the real and the abstract. We hear the strange sounds of the EVP, and Cass himself talking about his work. But the film is not ‘about’ Cass, instead it takes the details of his life and work, and the recordings themselves, as a route to explore the hidden realms of the unconscious mind. The film mirrors the uncanny, inexplicable nature of the EVP, the mystery and poetry of the recordings, and challenges rational explanations.

A few other examples:

– “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson         – “Ubik” by Philip K. Dick

– “The Electronic Ghosts”                                          – “Ghost in the Machine” (Movie)

– “Pulse”  (Movie)

– “Poltergeist” (Movie)

– “Supernatural” (TV series)


[1] The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AAEVP) has information about EVPs and samples of EVPs on their website. Shadlowlands Ghostly Sounds has a number of EVP recordings you can listen to.   Voices in the Wind has several EVP recordings you can hear.  GhostStudy.com has EVPs captured in a number of locations that are reported to be haunted.   YouTube has a large number of EVPs. To locate them, search either the terms EVP or electronic voice phenomenon. What’s great about EVP recordings on YouTube is that you can listen to EVP recordings from all types of EVP collection devices including Frank’s Box, the Telephone to the Dead, a Ghost Box and various other devices.  Sound Board has several EVPs you can listen to on their site.  Other online EVP samples: http://www.paratexas.com/ghostpg7.htm , http://www.ghostsrus.com/evp.htm,  http://theshadowlands.net/ghostwav.htm   http://www.evpvoices.com/evps1.htm,  http://www.talkboy.com/haunted/group01.htm

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar, Fauxist Speculative Literature | 3 Comments »

4 Fauxists Visit the True City of Fauxism on PCP.

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on May 18, 2010

An excerpted transcript of a 4-hour audio tape, recorded 12/3/2007


In this exercise in speculative literature, 4 Regrette Etceteras meet some of their ancestors, the populace, and comment variously on the constitution and sights of the future city of Fauxism.

Location of Experiment: Outside Portland, OR.

Those present: Regrette Etcetera, Regrette Etcetera, Regrette Etcetera, Regrette Etcetera.

Note: We have deliberately obscured the identities of the speakers to suit the character of Fauxist identity. The numbers indicate a sectional excerpt, cut or change in speaker, and suggest a rough chronology (thus there are gaps in the sequence).

1. I HATE SOMETIMES TO DESCRIBE SOMETHINGS because they just don’t seem to make sense–but I see all these–like cubist art–like crystals–a combination of crystals–a pinkish-gold in colour, shining very brightly, especially at the center. If were an artist I could draw you a picture of them–like quarts–all fitting into each other like the parts of a Chinese puzzle–big, fairly large–like it’s in the center of a room–almost like something you’d see in a museum or science exhibit–like something you’d see in science fiction. It all seems to be standing like it’s balanced there–pivotal–and it revolves very slowly, and shines and scintillates–radiates–while it revolves–beautiful–just beautiful! Must be at least ten feet high, I’d say, and about four feet across at the widest point. It’s very irregular, of course. Sort of tapers off at the top and bottom–many pieces and blocks!

2. THE RECTANGULAR SHAPED CRYSTALS STICK OUT IN EVERY DIRECTION, all fitting precisely together in one gigantic mass. And each crystal itself is quite large–they look like they could be a foot by six inches rectangular–six inches deep. (Tongues) The room is very large and rather strange–like nothing I’ve seen on this earth–and as this thing revolves, this beautiful strange light emanates from this and lights the whole room–almost like a light show, that causes the light in the room to change and glow and change colours–blue and gold and red! (Speaks in Tongues) I don’t know: Maybe it’s like one of those things Ezekiel saw, like eyes within and without, and light radiating, and colours like the rainbow–crystals.

3. AND I HAVE THE STRANGE IMPRESSION THAT THIS THING HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH US–like it’s so perfectly made; though it’s irregular, everything fits so beautiful and perfectly–it’s so beautiful–light and colours so beautiful–like it had something to do with us! Almost as though it has some influence on us. I don’t know what in the world that could be! (Tongues)

4. BUT I HAVE THE PECULIAR FEELING LIKE THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SIGN–it’s so perfectly designed and everything fits in place, and everything is under control –perfect control. (Tongues and weeping)

5. THERE’S DARKNESS THAT FIGHTS THAT LIGHT–darkness that actually fights those rays–but it just continues to rotate slowly, deliberately, calmly, as though it was at perfect ease–and nothing can stop it–absolutely invincible! It will go on no matter what! Everything is planned–everything is ordered–in decency and order! Everything is controlled–under perfect control–and nothing can happen without orders–without Will!–And it comes back to me what the Man told us though my dead grandmother that time, in a place not far from here–that He is at the controls, and that these little nothings are mere puppets in His hands. How beautiful! How beautiful! Boy, I wish I could paint a picture of that! …..Ummmm Ummmm Ummmm (Tongues and shakes head) (Long pause) (Tongues) Did any of you see it at all! Anything at all? Did you see that red, red glow–that red light? (Tongues) I’m sorry, Forgive me, help me, forgive me for my fears! (Tongues) (Lightly puckers lips in a kiss to someone) What do you see? Did you see anything at all?

9. (Cups hands around eyes and remains in this position) WOW! THAT’S A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT–ALL GOLD AND YELLOW! It’s as though there are thousands of glass or crystal tubes–they come up from somewhere–like from the floor–and they bend outward in a big circle, and they shine with the most beautiful golden light. I don’t know how big they are or what to compare them to but from here I’d say they were, I guess, about six feet high. The circle must be at least twenty feet wide–and from where they bend outward and upward in a perfect circle and all the same angles they must be about four feet long from the bend to the end. They look like those quartz tubes that carry that laser beam–only it’s not red–but beautifully golden yellow. If it’s the Control Center, it sure is pretty! Maybe it’s symbolic! But here, everything was in one perfect pattern–everything same height and exactly same angle–the shadows are kind of blue and purple! I don’t understand why there doesn’t seem to be anybody around…..

10. GOODNIGHT! GOODNIGHT! UMH! THE PEOPLE ARE SO SMALL I didn’t even see them! I take it all back! Those things are gigantic! Goodness Gracious!–Those things must be tall as a building! Thank You, Umm! Umm! Immense! I know there’s no room in this world that big!

11. Do you suppose there going to be buildings in it like this–so huge? I had to look way down to the floor. It was so far down it seemed dark down there. And at the base there are steps leading up to the dais, or platform, but it was so far down I thought the base was smooth! The people look just like little specks! It must be absolutely enormous! I never saw inside any building in this world so huge–a gigantic thing! The building–it seems like the walls are clear and like thick, thick, thick glass–thick, clear glass! It’s so strange–such a strange shape. The walls come up from way down there–it must be further than the Twin Towers was–and they come up and curve inward, and then they come to like points in different angles, like a lot peaks–only everything is very symmetrical–absolutely perfect Everything is so symmetrical–so beautiful–perfectly clear building–not a flaw–just like it was molded into one big piece! That circle of those crystal rods must be acres!–Which shows you, if you can’t see something to compare it with, you have no idea or perspective at all–and I couldn’t see how huge it was until I looked down there and saw those people! There is just no building in the world that big! Those glass rods–each one of them must be as big around as 30 or 40 feet! If that person is anywhere near six feet high, the base of that rod has to be at least 30 or 40 feet thick!

12. (Tongues) DOESN’T ANYBODY ELSE SEE IT? Can’t you see it? Are you trying? Those rods must be a thousand feet high, and they reach out in almost a canopy in every direction–and this building must be absolutely unbelievably large–almost like a gigantic temple or something. It comes up at curved, rounded points. I’d have to show it to you, or you’d have to tune in! And everything seems to operate in a kind of silent music–quiet music–beautiful–beautiful–just like the harmony of the spheres–the music of the stars!

13. WOW! IF THE CITY IS LIKE THAT, IT’S GONNA REALLY BE SOMETHING! It must be the most beautiful place there ever could possibly be! It would take a City almost fifteen hundred miles high to hold a building like this! And there are lots of buildings! I bet there were people at the bottom of that crystal! If that compares anything in size to that other, my measurements were wrong! Those crystals must have been hundreds of feet…I’m just to tired! (He is too tired to hold arms up any longer, and takes hands from eyes.) Seemed like everything else interfered, but when I put my hands up like this, I can see better. If I shut out all this other radiation I can see better. Like looking though a pair of binoculars. Did you know that you all glow with light–you all are light sources?–Even the walls? But I have to shut all that out to see! (Cups hands around eyes, but lets arms fall again) My arms are so tired! I

14. I’M SO TIRED! My arms…(Tries to lift arms) It’s so silly to worry! Just think, Gina is enjoying all that! Whew! Us and our little mud-bound man never even dreamed of such things! I’m sorry, but I’m tired!

15. (Regrette Etcetera is sitting over in the corner with her hands cupped over her eyes, also.)

16. WOW! I never dreamed of such a place–nobody could ever imagine such a place!–And those walls! Whew! Whew! Sheer, sheer walls–even sloped inward! That’s construction you couldn’t possibly have! It would cave in–almost like arches. So many, many peaks! The whole building at the base is just circular. The whole wall is like an arch. Each one is at a different angle. Each one ends at a different height–but they all are in a perfect pattern symmetry!

17. THAT OTHER BUILDING WAS DIFFERENT. It had sort of opaque walls, except for this one huge window, almost like a flat roof or ceiling. The roof was suspended–this crystal clear wall through which this light seemed to shine over on the right side–I guess that thing goes all the way around–all the way around–this huge window goes all the way around!

18. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, but suddenly there is a big tree, and just like it’s being chopped at around the base–just like a woodsman fells a tree and chops all around the bottom (smiles slightly) till finally the tree kinda slides off the base and falls. (This comes here at this point, but doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the rest.)

19. (Pause) How beautiful! Must be a view over the tops of the buildings. There’s this great huge light blue transparent dome, and all these other domes–different sizes! Beautiful light! (Smiles) Doesn’t anybody else see it? Can’t you see it? Are you really trying?

20. WOW! WHAT SHAPES! There’s a building shaped like one of those Christmas bows all interleaved! If that isn’t something! They couldn’t build anything like that on earth. I don’t think it would stand up! They don’t have things at angles like that!–and some built like a flower–the walls overlap, joined together like the petals of a flower!

21. There’s one shaped like–the walls are red–not bright red–almost like that dark metallic red–all the building materials seem to be transparent or at least translucent. It’s really a beautiful red; it’s dark, but it’s not dark, `cause the light shines right through it–like ruby!–Like one great big ruby, and it bulges out all around! It’s round and bulges out, and then there are these great big arches, almost like it’s suspended from these arches–these arches go out first and then come in, and just go over part way, and then there’s a big hole in the roof completely open at the top! Hallelujah! Inside is all garden–such a beautiful, beautiful garden–beautiful gardens! Wow! The colours are so beautiful–so beautiful–unbelievable!

22. I’m so tired!

23. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IN THE WORLD THOSE THINGS ARE! THEY’RE SO FUNNY, like a whole row of gigantic umbrellas–only the top of every one of them is shaped like a carnation–like a whole row of carnations–beautiful white stems! They’re red and yellow, and even a little bit brown and pink! I wonder what they have those for–I wonder why they’d need them–`cause you wouldn’t need shade from the sunshine, since there’s not supposed to be any sunshine! Just everything is lighted–everything is light–beautiful–not too bright–but bright and light–seems like there’s light everywhere–doesn’t come from any particular source–it’s just everywhere! Living in another world! But this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! Oh wow! All kinds of peculiar shapes! There’s one that comes up with straight…Oh, there’s no way to describe it–Why don’t you try to see it? The outer walls go in and out and come up to points and the roof is–well, there isn’t any roof–there’s just kind of a bowl shape! (Shakes head) Help them! Oh, I’m tired,!….

27. UMMM! SO DARK OUT THERE! The walls of the city are transparent–you can see through them! I never thought about that! The wall around the outside is transparent–beautiful layers of different colours that you can see through–and it’s so dark out there–some places it’s dark! Seems like outside, the world is still affected by night and day apparently, whereas the City itself never, never gets dark. The city just shines, from everywhere it seems! O Man, I couldn’t begin to describe everything!–I don’t even understand it–how could I describe it?

28. THINGS ARE MOVING–A BIG ROUND BALL with all those sort of fluted fins soaring along–blue and silver things! Wow! Reminds me of those crystal paintings–that painting Mother used to have that she said the guy made with music and colour and crystalisation–so beautiful! I’m just so tired! I don’t see any gold bricks, but that pathway is sure beautiful–like all the rocks are diamonds and crystals and precious stones. All the rocks along the pathway are all beautiful stones, like diamonds and opals and rubies, and all different precious stones line the pathway like gravel! Beautiful, beautiful–and the flowers are so beautiful! Even the trees are different colours. I never saw trees like that before–different coloured trees! Can’t anybody see it all?

29. (Lifts himself up partially from the chair in which he is sitting, and peers over the arms of the chair.) Wow! Even when I’m up high like this I don’t get scared, `cause I don’t seem to be able to even fall.

30. WELL, THAT MUST BE THE FAUXIST CITY! That’s all it could possibly be. Couldn’t even begin to have anything on earth like that! I don’t know why the stairways are curved, but everybody seems to float up and down them.

31. THERE’S A MOUNTAIN, AND IT’S SO HUGE–that must be the top of the City! Hummm!–Everything up there is amber–beautiful, beautiful amber–everything shines! Must be something very, very important!

32. Well, it could be done. What’s the name of that guy?–Tom what? Strange World of Tom….Somebody–the guy that could project….put it right on tape! The flesh is so weak–it must take a lot of energy out of you–seems like you project almost at the same time you’re seeing it!

33. IF I JUST KEEP MY EYES SHUT, I CAN SEE MORE and go on a regular tour!

34. THAT’S ABSOLUTELY THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I EVER SAW IN MY WHOLE LIFE. I never saw anything like it. That river is like a canal–with walks on both sides. If that isn’t a strange thing about those walks being different coloured!

35. REGRETTE ETCETERA: I SAW IT, DAD–I SAW IT! You were holding me by the hand, walking me down the path.

36. REGRETTE ETCETERA: I WAS WALKING DOWN THE PATH WITH SOMEBODY. I was so fascinated by those beautiful things!

37. Regrette Etcetera: You kept saying: ” I always wanted to show you what the story was like–I always wanted to show you!”

38. REGRETTE ETCETERA: I wanted so much for one of you to see what it was like!

39. Regrette Etcetera: You were telling me, “Here’s the great Space City–and the teeth for the gates.”

40. REGRETTE ETCETERA:. Anybody that could build a place like that…you don’t have to worry! This world is just ridiculous!–Just a cheap imitation compared to that! Just so beautiful! I never saw such bright green grass! Everything’s so beautiful!

41. YOU GUYS GO ON TO BED. I THINK I’LL STAY HERE A WHILE. Maybe they’ll let me sleep here. Here nobody ever seems to get tired. They looked at me kind of funny because I want to lie down. The grass isn’t even cold or wet. It’s like a nice, soft warm carpet. I think I’ll just lay down here and go to sleep!

42. (After long pause) O.K., I’m sorry! They say if I go to sleep here I won’t come back!

43. REGRETTE ETCETERA: THERE’S A LION, and he comes over to you and starts licking you on your face to wake you up. And a little lamb comes over and sits down and the lion is smiling at you!

44. REGRETTE ETCETERA: THANK YOU, IF YOU GO TO SLEEP HERE, YOU’LL WAKE UP FOREVER, but then you can’t go back! So I gotta wake up! It would be so easy! All I have to do is just go to sleep, and I can just be like all the rest of them! I can’t go to sleep! There’s so much to do! We could all go to sleep and go right in. But there are a whole lot more who you’ve got to get first!

45. REGRETTE ETCETERA: I’M TAKING YOU BY THE HAND, and saying, “Come on, Daddy; there are a whole lot of others we have to get and bring back to see it!”

46. REGRETTE ETCETERA: (Tongues and weeping) FOR THEIR SAKES I MUST GO BACK. Almost made it. Just a little bit more and I’d have gone to sleep! I’m so tired! Where are we going, Sweetheart Honey?

47. REGRETTE ETCETERA: WE’RE WALKING DOWN THE PATH THIS TIME. We’re coming down this hill all sparkling…

48. REGRETTE ETCETERA: Thank You. (Cries and sighs) We see all these people we love, and that we know. Everybody’s waving goodbye.

49. REGRETTE ETCETERA: WE STILL HAVE TO GET MORE, and they’re happy we can go back!

50. REGRETTE ETCETERA: THEY’RE SO GLAD! LIKE HAVING TO LEAVE HOME AND GO TO WAR–but they’re not sad about it–Isn’t that something? So glad, so happy–just like they’re cheering us! (Smiles happily) Like they cheer the soldiers and knights when they go out the gate.

51. (Wipes the tears from his eyes.) (Pause) It’s so dark out..

52. BOY OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! THAT WAS WORTH THE TRIP! What else did you see, Honey, while we were there? I’m glad you were there!

53. Regrette Etcetera: You were just leading me by the hand, taking me on a tour!

54. REGRETTE ETCETERA: Everybody wanted to hold Daddy’s hand–My hands aren’t big enough! That’s the most amazing sight I ever saw in my life–so many sizes and shapes, and designs–spirals and cones and spheres- every conceivable geometric form, and no two are alike.–So beautiful–and the materials are just unearthly! We’ve got to tell the others how beautiful it is going to be–tell the others so they’ll come!

55. OH, MY ARM GOT SO TIRED!–Maybe it was because I was holding your hand–I don’t know! We haven’t got those buildings, and those flowers, and those trees, and that grass and all! Oooh–I’m afraid to open my eyes! I’m afraid I’ll forget what it looks like!

56. REGRETTE ETCETERA: I KEPT SEEING THIS PICTURE OF ALL THESE PEOPLE STANDING OUTSIDE THE WALL OF THE CITY, and these great big pearls, and these people were looking over the wall, and they wanted to come in, but they couldn’t–and we kept telling them, “This is just for us”

57. REGRETTE ETCETERA: SECOND-RATE CITIZENS! Isn’t that pitiful? Oh so pitiful!

58. Honey, you must have been trying to wake me up `cause you kept pulling me!

59. REGRETTE ETCETERA: THE BIG LION CAME OVER AND KEPT LICKING YOU ON THE FACE, like it was trying to wake you up!

60. REGRETTE ETCETERA: SEEMED LIKE YOU KEPT PULLING ON ME. You wanted me to go. Like you used to do when you were little. “Daddy, we gotta go–we gotta go! Regrette Etcetera was always so insistent, like we had to do what she wanted to! Isn’t that funny–she just didn’t want me to go to sleep there! Why didn’t you let me sleep there, Honey? I was so tired, Sweetheart! How could you be little again, Sweetheart? You got so upset, just like when you were little! She’d stomp her little foot and cry: “We gotta go–we gotta go!” She used to get so upset at me because I was so slow! I think if I hadn’t had help, I wouldn’t have made it! I would have gone to sleep right there! It was so nice and soft and I was so tired! They looked at me so funny, like they were amused because I wanted to sleep!

62. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING ME BACK! But I don’t want to open my eyes, I’m sorry!

63. I SAW ABNER AND YOUR GRANDFATHER! Wow! Gina was real tall, looking over everybody’s head and telling us that we can’t all come and enjoy it right now–we can’t all come and give our lives for the cause right now!

64. YOU SURE MUST HAVE BEEN PULLING ON MY HAND, HONEY!–My arm was limp!… if Regrette Etcetera wasn’t so damn stubborn–she always got her way!

65. I saw Grandfather standing by Gina!

66. I’M HUNGRY! WE’D HAVE HAD SOME NICE FRUIT IF WE HAD STAYED THERE! I didn’t get a bit hungry when I was up there but I sure did get tired! I guess I didn’t have the right kind of body! You just float–it’s really wonderful! Even when you’re walking, you’re kinda floating! It doesn’t seem like your feet hardly touch the ground! It must be like the moon walk–weightlessness!

67. I COULD PROJECT THE PICTURE TO YOU IF I TRIED–but I think that would be too hard! Boy, that sure would have made some travel film! All the time I’d try to project there was a red light that would glow!

68. THOSE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE WALLS ARE WATCHING US NOW–and they’ll be watching us then!

69. THAT MOUNTAIN–THE TOP OF THE CITY–I was afraid to go up there!

70. YOU MUST HAVE TO HAVE A LITTLE POWER TO DRAW IT IN YOURSELF. What has the most power? The broadcasting station! But the receiver has to have some power! A TV has as much as 300,000 watts of power–those VHF stations. A UHF station has as much sometimes as a million watts of power. You take one of those little transistor radios–has nine volts, and almost no amperage–so small that it’s just…it only has a fraction of watt–but it’s got to have some power, and it has to be tuned in and turned on! It’s as though the atmosphere has to be almost electrical! in a way almost electrical–some kind of energy. And you just gotta have some power and be turned on and tuned in to the right frequency. I felt like somebody there was just not turned on! –you can hear something–the power of the radio itself, and also the station! When you don’t even hear the hum, you know it’s dead it was just like there were shadows–time and again there were shadows!

71. TO REGRETTE ETCETERA: YOU WERE LIKE YOU WERE RIGHT THERE BY MY SIDE, and I was talking to you over my shoulder about everything!

72. it’s like you’re trying to get two radios tuned in together on the same frequency!

73. LATELY, SINCE WE’VE BEEN HAVING THOSE REVELATIONS ABOUT THE SPIRIT WORLD…

74. That other building that I was trying to describe was like a King’s crown!

75. IT WAS ONLY AT THE VERY END THAT I EVEN SAW THE PEOPLE CLOSE UP. I guess I just really saw the people I was looking for!

76. They’re such a cheap imitation–like a little toy model of the real thing!

77. IF ONLY ONE PERSON IS OUT OF TUNE, IT SEEMS TO CREATE STATIC and a possible channel for the Enemy. And this creates interference! It’s almost like static on a radio!

78. I NEVER THOUGHT BEFORE OF OUR CITY AS HAVING BIG BUILDINGS. I used to imagine maybe like apartment houses–mansions were arranged as apartments! And I never realised there was so much colour! I thought it was all that crystal colour–and that is the predominant colour–but it’s just full of colour! It’s as though the light is that colour–a kind of a golden light–and it emanates from everywhere–nut is especially strong up there at the top–at that amber peak! Now that top was almost like a mountain valley–like it was surrounded with mountains, made or built! There was a beautiful artistry about the way these things were around an amphitheater. I had the feeling that that was where the leader was. I don’t even know if I was allowed to go up there!

79. YOU KNOW, YOU GET SUCH A FEELING OF YOUR OWN IMPORTANCE. It was as though the Heavenly court was in session up there, and of course there were visitors in the city, but it wasn’t that important. But like they weren’t even conscious of my being a visitor! \

80. I WAS CONSCIOUS OF MY BODY EVERY NOW AND THEN, especially when you would speak or there was noise. It would detract…Apparently me sitting here in this hotel room–I was tired, and that affected me over there! My body had some kind of pull on my spirit.

81. I NEVER DREAMED IT WAS LIKE THAT–I’m so surprised! That time I saw the vision of Martha and the thrones, it was like a polished floor, and there was such a long line of thrones that disappeared in the distance, and I didn’t realise that buildings could be that big! Not like the skyscrapers we build at all, but all these gorgeous shapes–rounded and curved and even straight lines were beautiful!

82. ONLY TIME I SAW ABNER AND GRANDFATHER WAS WHEN WE WERE LEAVING, and they were waving goodbye. That’s the only time I remember hearing any sound from the people at all–when we were leaving and they actually cheered us. That’s the only time they even give us much notice at all–they were just casual and everybody was happy and friendly and smiling!

83. I DIDN’T EVEN SEE ANYBODY SHOWING ME AROUND, but I kind of felt somebody was there–sort of like to my left rear. I wasn’t even conscious of Regrette Etcetera’s presence until she began to project or something.

84. TO REGRETTE ETCETERA: I KNEW YOU WERE THERE RIGHT BESIDE ME. but you weren’t seeing anything but me. And you were writing it all down!

85. It was as though Regrette Etcetera were a little girl again–about 12 years old!

86. THOSE OLD WALLED CITIES–THEY ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. Apparently they are such a type, a foreshadowing of the Fauxist City. Those walls were like a couple hundred feet high! They must have been at least three times the height of the Old City in Famagusta, Cyprus. You had the feeling that they were for somewhat the same purpose–as a gulf or separation.

87. THE THREE THINGS THAT IMPRESSED ME THE MOST–the transparent walls; the beautiful varied colours; and the size of those buildings.

88. It was just like I was hanging way up in the air!

89. FAUXISM WAS IN DIFFERENT LEVELS–maybe each level 100 miles–and almost like every level had its own sky!

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