Witness: A Psychic Collaboration

Nate Larson + Marni Shindelman

November 13 - December 19, 2009

Nate Larson is a Baltimore-based artist and a member of the full-time faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He received his MFA from The Ohio State University.

Marni Shindelman
is associate professor of art and an associate of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Rochester. She received her MFA from the University of Florida.

Larson and Shindelman
placed in the semi-finals in the 2008 World Telekinesis Competition hosted by artist collective Noxious Sector (Victoria, BC) and emerged as the global champions in the 2009 event.

Witness: A Psychic Collaboration

During the 1980s, the United States government carried out experiments in “remote viewing,” the tactical use of extrasensory perception to gather intelligence information. Known by the code name “Stargate Project”. This twenty million dollar military endeavor involved extensive research in which soldiers attempted to remotely observe a target’s hidden actions through telepathy. The “Stargate Project” and its psychic surveillance methods form the basis for the exhibition WITNESS, a long-distance collaborative project.

From 2007 to 2008, we conducted experiments in remote viewing, attempting to “observe” each other’s actions across a distance of more than five hundred miles. Developing a specific methodology, we made photographic images to enhance our telepathic capabilities. During our experiments, one performed a specific series of tasks or actions during a predetermined time. These tasks or actions were then telepathically observed by the other and documented employing a variety of media. We are targeting five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Objects used in our collaborative experiments were carefully chosen for the specific ways in which they influenced the experience under examination. The photographic images, drawings and writings comprising the exhibition WITNESS record the course of our experiments, the failures and nominal successes of our efforts.

One interpretation of WITNESS is a response to the invasive surveillance present in our contemporary society. Further, the project enabled us to infiltrate one another’s psyche, as a means of increasing communication, possibly to quell loneliness in an age of hyper-connectivity. While it is possible to contact people across large distances, people report to be increasingly unhappy. They often describe a constant loneliness or anxiety attributed to the electronic information age. In our collaborative work, we turned to remote viewing as a logical extension of our desire for personal communication combined with public surveillance. The work in WITNESS serves as a record of the intersection of personal and public. - Nate Larson & Marni Schindelman