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from over enthusiastic blog posts describing fantastic applications, to more critical investigations looking at the unpublished failed replications.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.