20, 21 November 2017
The 2 Pop! is an audio induction through various states of reality and consciousness relating to Los Angeles and the Hollywood film industry.
The 2-pop: a Hollywood induction.
Stories are constellations towards which we set sail.
The Prince is a Victorian-pub-turned-Korean-restaurant that Ronni brought me to and it seemed like the perfect venue — a truly unparallelled knot of incompatible aesthetics and regimes of truth. As we were sitting there I asked, "Ronni, do you also possibly know somebody in LA, ideally an artist, who can hypnotise people?”
"Maybe this guy,” she said after a short pause, and passed me her phone with a number. I sent him a text message.
Hello, I am curating an exhibition where the audience is hypnotised and experiences the exhibition under hypnosis. Let me know if you would be interested to discuss a possible collaboration to make this exhibition happen.
The guy, it turns out, was Marcos Lutyens, who is deeply immersed in neuroscience, cognitive bio-machinery, artificial and animal intelligence, eco-dreams, self-educational complexes, bacterial visualisation techniques, and all kinds of indigenous knowledges of the world at large. He speaks several languages, cracks jokes that make people of different countries laugh at the same time and, among other things, practises post-Ericksonian hypnosis as a way to access what he calls an unconscious mind. He believes that people have been repressed by various systems economy, belief, the morals and tastes of their social class and as a result have become highly automated, desensitised, violence- prone individuals driven by greed, function, and reason. To access the unconscious mind means activating other ways of sensing and being, and this is where he inserts himself: at the interstices of the possible.
Before working with me, Marcos worked with artist Matt Mullican, neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, and Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen on a variety of pursuits that involved hypnosis. An invitation to address a group of people at an art gallery must have come as a business-as-usual proposal to him.
- Raimundas Malasauskas
After a few iterations of Raimundas and I working on variable reality projects around the world and when he finally came back to Los Angeles, I set up a visit for him to delve deeper into what he had termed this ‘unparalleled knot’ of realities.
After showing his ID at the gate, they took his phone and camera away and gave him a briefing about how memories can only be stored in the mind and not shared under any circumstances. They called it a privacy disclaimer, since the tour was only reserved for insiders.
The golf cart driver was called Frank and he filled Raimundas in about his upcoming tour. In Los Angeles we have physical streets and buildings like any other city, but the real urban fabric is one made only of stories. The place Raimundas had come to visit was a factory of narratives that had been running for generations.
In-ducere from in- "into” + ducere "to lead”
In a way, Raimundas was being induced into worlds most of us can only access through the so called silver screen, even though the lenticular silver, after which the screen was named, was ditched not long after the beginning of motion picture history. I say induced, as this is the same term that is used in hypnosis to guide someone into a state of trance.
The hypnotic induction I usually apply is an amalgamation of stage hypnosis and a type of therapeutic hypnosis, otherwise known as hypnotherapy. Although my work as an artist using hypnosis is not intended to have therapeutic effects, and is rather directed towards experimental investigations, understanding the therapeutic basis for hypnosis is essential to knowing how best to work with the mind, and what to avoid at all costs_such as treating pain without a doctor’s consent, which may mask an underlying ailment.
I learned these processes at the American Institute of Hypnotherapy (AIH), a now-defunct academy in Irvine, California. The Institute was founded by Dr. A. M. Krasner, who implemented Milton Erickson’s approach to hypnosis. During his career, Erickson was a controversial figure in the world of medical hypnosis and family therapy, having generated inductive processes that often involved shocks and ordeals that drove people deeper into their phobias or neuroses in an effort to find a way out of them. Erickson developed most of his own methods, formulated during a childhood of paralysis caused by polio during which he was left to observe the contradictory behaviour of his many siblings and study their body language. This keen sense of observation about the habits and rituals we follow throughout our day allowed him to discern how we are naturally predisposed to go in and out of trance.
In a similar way, Raimundas was being taken deeper into the birthplace of so many familiar narratives. In the comfort of the golf cart, he was making his way across the silvery, liquid membrane of the movie screen and reaching the physical relics used to animate movies. Stage 28: the Phantom of the Opera set from the 1924 silent film. The oldest preserved film set in the world. An undulating marvel of balconies of lath and frail plasterwork. That was two years ago. Now the set has been demolished and its memory can be found in just a handful of minds, one of which belongs to Raimundas. And then up the hill, to wander past the Bates Motel or Psycho House, which was built as a two-walled set. Funny how a 3D reality on the silver screen was only ever made up of partially rendered truths. The mind fleshes out the missing parts. It always does.
My own reality in Hollywood has often been entangled in this kind of twilight zone between reality and fiction: they call the condition paramnesia. Like that time when I found myself designing the set for the Red Hot Chili Peppers video called ‘Look Around.’ Four spaces, four narratives, four worlds and yet one time, one melody with overlap between the different zones and characters.
As we were filming, the words of lead singer Anthony Kiedis reverberated all day: It's emotional and I told you so But you had to know so I told you Please don't look right through me Hurts my heart when you do that to me
I mentioned the four spaces in which the video was filmed: set out like a saltire or mandala as seen from above. It seems that Hollywood is always conditioned by these four basic stories, or what Jung would call the quaternity, which boils down to a four-fold structure that describes how the conscious mind functions. The division of our mental functioning into four sectors may also be apotropaic, in that it contributes to the mind’s ability to prevent its own collapse. In other words, the quaternity enables the mind to come back to its own centre, and perhaps Hollywood, after all, is a kind of salve that keeps society from imploding.
In the case of the music video:
The first quadrant belongs to the LIBERTAOR role: Anthony dressed in old prisoner garb. He throws it off and is the only character who can move freely from his quadrant into the other three quadrants, like a joker in a deck of cards.
The second quadrant is occupied by guitarist Josh Klinghoffer as the ADMINISTRATOR: it’s a stark space with no frills. A place of order, perhaps a court of law.
The third quadrant, the DARK SIDE is occupied by guitarist Flea. It’s a place of conflict and madness, as Flea and his companion tussle and fight in a kind of Dantean inferno.
The fourth quadrant of the set is the blue space, a W.C. reserved for drummer Chad Smith. It’s a refuge: a place of intimacy and the source of the IMMATERIAL, as ungraspable as water.
Anthony used to jump from hotel balconies into swimming pools until he broke his back when he missed from a fifth floor. So water becomes safety, as a refuge against the hard edges of life.
And as you are reading this text about Hollywood stories, you may find yourself lying in bed, or sitting comfortably in a seat, or travelling on a train. But at the same time it’s not hard to imagine that a camera over your shoulder could be recording this moment as it becomes part of a film. It strikes me that there could be various levels of communication and exchange between us and just by drawing your attention to the act of reading, the page’s surface is akin to the silver screen: a membrane you can travel in and out of just like Raimundas did, as a flight of exchange.
Usually in hypnosis, I would start off by saying ‘and whenever you’re ready now,’ giving a sense that you are actually in control of the narrative flow, which already seems to have begun. I often wonder about that blurry edge between public speaking and an induction that leads you into a hypnotic state in which the edges between here and there, then and now, me and you, inside and outside just seem to melt away. In fact the more I am just a conduit, with clear, shiny sides that facilitate the seamless flow of words the better, almost as if the words already begin to form themselves inside your own mind. Public speakers like to assume they are noticed, but here you may begin to realise how I will fade away in front of you, to be replaced by your own sensations, like stepping stones across a pond or like skittles at the end of a bowling alley in the middle of a chance meeting that you had always been longing for.
Let us start with the idea that we are in the centre of Hollywood: perhaps we already are? It’s always good to induce doubt into a situation that you know is true, as then, the moment that fiction appears it is equally valid as a known truth and a story may then begin to unfold.
So, for instance, you may find yourself listening to the sound of my voice, looking at a screen in front of you. Perhaps the screen is on the surface of your retina, or perhaps it’s hovering in front of you tonight in a dark room with a packed audience, red velvet curtains, dimmed chandeliers. The colour has faded out of your eyes and the film and everything around has desaturated to black and white.
35 Sound Start ...
...0 , 9 , 8 , 7 , 6 , 5 , 4 , 3 ... (with a progressively slower cadence)
and then the 2-pop leads you into the movie.
I always thought it strange that movies started with the same countdown that we use in hypnotic inductions, and perhaps now, by the same token, you could find yourself inside or behind the screen, as a character through which the story unfolds. And every time there is a countdown perhaps you would just begin to find yourself immersed deeper into the story, with a heightened sense of feelings and sensations. You may find that words have weight and taste and flavor as the story progresses and the words move through and inside the different parts of yourself, like the text you are reading just now with its slopes and angles and curves.
It’s interesting too that in film they talk about the fourth wall, a place where actors rarely look so as not to break the conceit of a hard won parallel reality, or expose the viewer as a voyeur. Unlike in film with its 3 + 1 walls, in architecture rooms generally have four walls, but in this case one rarely thinks to ask about the fifth wall, through which an invisible audience may be watching.
And just as in the case of four walls to a room, there may be four scripts to follow, or four screens in the movie theatre playing simultaneously. Or perhaps four compartments in the self, into which the same four basic narratives are installed again and again.
As you read this text you probably can see these four different narratives surfacing over and over again. The four basic stories that recur in every movie you have ever seen are the same stories that are already ingrained in you, ready to be awoken, as when you see yourself unexpectedly in selfie-mode on your phone.
You may also begin to feel how each section resides in a certain part of your body, as happens when you reach deeper into a hypnotic state and the innermost schema start to appear concrete.
At the same time, the memories that are triggered inside may make you the author of the stories you thought you were reading. And in a kind of reversal, I, as the author, may be just reading your thoughts as they are fed onto this page.
Ideally you should close your eyes while you are reading the following text, just as the blind fully envision a narrative while when reading braille, as touch and visualisation use separate cognitive channels.
Let us give it a try.
The first story could start with the title:
Ext. GREYHOUND BUS STATION -- Early
Walking down the steps of the station, just off The Lucky Streak after a long overnight.
Dawn, the stillness of time.
Unevenness under your feet, tripping on the train tracks.
Streetlights and the smell of rotten vegetables.
Thinking of home.
The fog of time, each footstep a second.
The heavy duffel bag across your shoulder.
THREE Apartment buildings passing by: the Gaylord, Los Altos, the Asbury, Ravenswood. A thousand dreams inside dreams under the burnt out neon signs, tired sheers, peeling paint.
I have come here to break the rules, the codes, the laws.
Suddenly, I reach out through the screen and pull you in.
My voice passes by like a Doppler inside your mind.
And as we go deeper in now, perhaps we can sense the second story:
Int. COURT ROOM – Afternoon
Evening sunlight pouring across the empty desks and seats.
You look down at your watch: the second hand slows.
Under the fluorescents: the ceiling fan slowly grinding.
Typed words on paper. Dust particles hanging in the air.
Solid, impenetrable sounds behind walls.
Blinds, curtains, two-way mirrors, surveillance screens.
Time as a physical entity: divided, rationed, weighed, withheld.
Bringing down the gavel.
The abyss of stopped time.
The third story:
THE DARK SIDE
Int. Stage 27 Universal Studios -- Night
Faded stars and famous quotes as muffled whispers in the catwalk above.
Hair and make-up in the green room.
Walking across cables and through a forest of C-stands.
The seat conforms around you: beyond the cockpit the bright blue chroma-key sky.
Bright lights in your eyes
Furious, seething, blood boiling, jaw clenched.
Explosion: fragments fly past you.
The set disintegrates.
Rage and Fury.
The fourth and final story
Ext. Griffith Park Observatory -- night
Do you remember it now?
High above the city now
Floating over by the Griffith Observatory, in the skies beyond Mulholland Drive.
Distance expands as an infinite grid of lights below.
The residences, trees, canyons dissolving away.
Love affairs of unspoken passion, vendettas, soaps, sitcoms, game-shows, horror shows, musicals…
You are the narrative behind my words.
Under your breath, I hear the thread of sounds upon which stories take form.
An indefinite gradation with no steps, boundaries or contours.
A bubble of phrases formed for an instant and released into the dark night sky.
The actors and their mouths move slowly, with meaning dissolving like melting make-up. As the words sink, your body feels lighter and lighter, so translucent and clear, and with every breath, each word becomes lighter and lighter. Scripts tumbling away across the desert and sounds just left floating in the ether.
Dreaming and drifting away, lighter and lighter.
And as the lights fade up in the room now, so to speak, I myself may appear again as the author of this text, as the director. But you could equally come back through these layers of screens, scripts and memories, finding yourself sitting here reading your own stories as they now find themselves printed upon this page.