Prophecy Program
  • f1. Prophecy Program - teaser
  • f2. wind tunnel installation
  • f3. Test subject wearing the gears before firing the precognition test-rig
  • f4. Precognition Test-Rig:
    The precognition test-rig consists of six air cannons hidden behind six fiberglass screens, displayed in a semi-circle around the test subject. Each cannon is linked to a balloon acting as the trigger mechanism. When the balloon explodes, the cannon fires a chalk made projectile at the subject. Each balloon is attached to a compressor through an electronic valve that will repeatedly open and close randomly, letting the air flow at an irregular interval of time. Consequently each balloon would inflate at variable speed.
    A spike mounted on each trigger would then pop the balloon and the subject would be hit by the projectile designed to turn into a cloud of smoke on impact. The subject should not be harmed but surprised by the dry impact. The test subject is facing the screens, and beside the sounds created by the apparatus, it is unaware of the balloons as they will be placed beyond their field of vision to prevent any visual anticipation.
    Before being tested, the subject is equipped with physiological sensors. The data compiled this way will be compared with the timing at which a projectile has been fired. We will then eventually seek to identify any physiological variation before impact.
  • f5. Balloon triggers
  • f6. Control Panel
  • f7. The control panel powers the whole installation and is designed to engage each part in a sequence (from left to right). For example, by flicking the first switches it will power the chart recorders then starts the printing of the incoming data, before the triggers and cannons are engaged. This will prevent the cannons from firing before the data from the test subject is being collected.
    It also creates a psychological build up for the test subject, as each part of the machinery adds a layer of noise every time a switch is being flicked.
  • f8. Chart Recorders:
    In order to collect and display the data issued from the diverse sensors attached to the test subject, two purposely made chart recorders have been designed.
    The chart recorders will not deliver accurate data on an expert level, but will allow through their mechanical nature, a wider interpretation of the readings by the audience. For example, the length of the needles will vary according to the data they represent, providing a visually more dramatic output.
    An individual needle represents each part of the physiological data being monitored, although the EEG readings are spread between four needles, representing different types of brainwaves (Beta, Delta, Theta, Gamma). These have been chosen as it seems to be the most active during remote viewing experiences. A single needle is used to mark when a cannon has been triggered. It would do so by quickly swiping the paper once.
  • f9. Bacterial Drone: Psi research eventually extends to biocommunication and plants. In 1966 for example, Cleve Backster conducted experiments in which he would monitor a plant’s response to the death of a brine shrimp placed in another room, by attaching electrodes to its leaves. Similar to galvanic skin response, the plant would show readings which would vary according to environmental changes. Later Marcel Vogel would duplicate this experiment claiming that plants could exhibit responses to human thoughts and intentions regardless of the distance.
    The program would capitalise on the bioenergetic capabilities of plants to sense humans intentions, and proposes to create a fleet of self-sustaining drones hovering cities. The experiment would consist of monitoring each drone’s location and electrical activity to see if it relates to any specific human activity.
    The drone’s design is similar to a blimp enveloping a sealed terrarium with an engineered ecosystem. The terrarium would act as a microbial fuel cell which outputs electricity and water used to generate hydrogen, as well as regulate the drone’s altitude by contracting and expanding its structure made of electroactive polymer.
    An Altimeter would be used as a variable resistor, so that the higher the drone flies the more current would pass through the structure, forcing the blimp to contract and exhale gas. Whereas the lower the drone goes the bigger the resistance allowing the blimp to expand and fill up with hydrogen.
  • f10. Waiting Tower for Remote Viewer: Upon being tested and eventually trained to sense future events or having confirmed psi abilities, the program speculates on the potential use of remote viewers as human sensors. In this experiment the subjects are in competition against a traditional seismograph. Geographically spread around fault lines in southern California, the towers are designed as waiting stations on top of which the subjects are seated. The height of the tower is meant to eventually amplify the vibrations from the ground. Each remote viewer is equipped with physiological sensors similar to the ones used for the test-rig and their activity is monitored simultaneously to the data compiled from a seismograph.
  • f11. Waiting Tower Model
  • f12. Prophecy Program - in front of the elephant door
  • f13. Prophecy Program - side view Close up

2013

The Prophecy Program is an exploration of the human capabilities in sensing future events, as well as an examination of the nature of the scientific experiment. This project has been created as part of the Media Design Practices summer research program, and took place within the wind tunnel of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Following the publication of ‘Feeling the Future’ a paper by Daryl J. Bem, in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010, The Prophecy Program set out to design a series of experiments inspired by the experimental evidence for the existence of physiological precognition, depicted throughout the paper. And extended the research to a broader paranormal realm.

Professor Bem’s paper instigated a fair amount of media coverage, ranging from over enthusiastic blog posts describing fantastic applications, to more critical investigations looking at the unpublished failed replications. As Chris French points out, in an article published on the Guardian website, these papers were rejected by the journal responsible for publishing the controversial claim, as the editorial line does not publish replications.

As opposed to a scientific experiment, whereby the compiled data can be of critical importance, The Program is interested in the relationship between audience and science, vulgarisation and accurate measurements, emerging from the original claim and intention, and the creation of beliefs and/or scepticism.

The Program envisioned the aesthetic language of the experiment as the skeleton for beliefs. In the same manner that the United States and the Soviet Union initiated secret psi programs, during the cold war, based on fear and eventually irrational beliefs. Their competitiveness on psychic weaponry led to the creation of apparatus and protocols which in some way can be related to the existence and role of religious and/or superstitious devices.

The Program consists of three experiments organised around the monitoring apparatus: a precognition test-rig, a waiting tower for remote viewing, a bacterial drone and two purposely built chart recorders.

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created in collaboration with Andrew Friend and the help of Greg Ahn, Tim Kim, Gene Lee, Aaron Fooshee and Matt Kizu, students at the Media Design Practices, ACCD, Pasadena, CA.
Part of MDP's Summer Research Lab
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