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INTERVIEW
Adi Newton of TAGC interviewed by Jack Sargeant

“To be a monster is first of all to be composite. …But ‘monster’ has another meaning: something or someone whose extreme determinacy allows the indeterminate wholly to subsist. In this sense, thought itself is a monster.”

– Gilles Deleuze

Influenced as a youth by Dada and Surrealism Adi Newton gravitated to the arts but rejected fine art practice and painting in favour of multimedia, performance, film and music. His first experience in the mid-seventies was as part of what he has subsequently described as an “anarchic drama group” funded by Sheffield Council. Immersed in the Yorkshire arts community he met numerous future luminaries of the Sheffield industrial and electronic music scene, including members of Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League. Influenced by Roxy Music, Brian Eno and German electronic pioneers Harmonium, Nue and Kraftwork, and the pleasure of creating tape loops on a number of found tape machines, Newton cofounded the group Clock DVA with S J Turner. The band released a number of albums including White Souls in Black Suits (Industrial Records, 1980) and Thirst (Fetish, 1980) and along with Cabaret Voltaire they contributed to the emergent industrial funk genre and later electro.

Simultaneously to Clock DVA, Newton devised The Anti Group (aka The Anti Group Communications aka TAGC), developing the concept with S J Turner. The project was temporarily sidelined by the success of Clock DVA, but was revived in the mid-eighties. With a fluctuating membership of collaborators – including his wife Jane Radion Newton, The Hafler Trio’s Andrew McKenzie and Lustmord’s Brian Williams – TAGC produced multimedia performances that combined films and music. These expanded cinema pieces included The Delivery (1985) a 16mm two-screen projection and Burning Water (1986), described as the group’s first Meontologoical experiment it combined waves of sound with endlessly mutable images of atavistic resurgence and “sentient symbolic systems.” Both of these soundtracks were released as records although the films have only been presented in a live context. TAGC also released two albums of sonic research: Meontological Research Recording 1 (Sweatbox, 1987) and Meontological Research Recording Record 2 Teste Tones (Side Effects, 1988)

After a lengthy absence from live performances TAGC returned to perform at The Equinox Festival in London, in the summer of 2009. Here they presented a multi-screen projection and live soundtrack Iso Erotic Calibration / An Experiment In Time and Burning Water. Adi Newton is now poised to re-issue both Meontological Research Recording 1 and 2 in a combined version on his Anterior label, accompanied by an explanatory booklet.

The third instalment was released in May 2011 and included a DVD and a hardcover book, the project includes contributions from David Beth, Michael Bertiaux and Barry Hale. This meontological research projects draw upon numerous sources, including French occultist Abbe Joseph-Antoine Boullan, dissident Surrealists George Bataille and Hans Bellmer through to Michel Bertiaux and Austin Osman Spare via H P Lovecraft and Hugo Ball, and builds on previous works. The films for Meontological Research 3 are protean experiments in which multiple images shift, merge and transform, creating world in which all is fluid and becomes endlessly multiple, open to limitless possibilities. Images transmute, becoming other. In The Denziens demonic forms drawn from the Swiss surrealism of H R Giger and ancient bestiaries transform, films of hands and eyes become morphological eruptions, faces laugh, and the camera appears to spin the viewers’ perception, this gaze positions the audience in centre of a magical circle while disjointed vices on the soundtrack talk of an “empty chalice” and demand “look at me”. In Meontographical Cartography swirling patterns and voudon sigils become medieval icons, over a parade of luminescent coloured paintings. While in the Inhabitants of Nemirion pop culture iconography from 1930s and 1940s science fiction and fantasy magazines is juxtaposed with multiple images that shift endlessly from neurological diagrams to mathematical shapes, stars, angels, all flowing endlessly in all possible permutations. The music hums with a religious energy, and somewhere higher beings copulate with humans.

The following conversation about the roots and sources of TAGC’s current practice took place on Monday 17th January, with subsequent discussion and clarification via email.

Lets start with some history; you started doing The Anti Group in 1978.

Originally we had the idea to do it then. We started to do things, like the PTI performance ideas, the live presentations and films and all kinds of things really. The initial idea was born in that time but was never fully developed, because of what we were doing with Clock DVA there was too much to do. But gradually over the years I’ve managed to do stuff, having a break from DVA then doing TAGC in the eighties, it gave me that space in order to work and develop on that. Then going back to DVA, and going back to do both of them.

 

There’s a mention in the book England’s Hidden Reverse that cites the fanzine Stabmental that said there was at one time a dream line-up of The Anti Group featuring Genesis P-Orridge and John Balance.[1]

Yeah. We always talked of doing things. Gen was always regarded as a kind of honorary member. Definitely. And Jhon is a definite honorary member.

Film still from The Inhabitants of Nemirion, TAGC © Adi Newton

Were you looking at magick during this period, was that informing your worldview back in the late 1970s?

We were definitely inspired by people like Crowley and so on, Austin Spare. There were a lot of different elements as well, it wasn’t just occult influences, it was more the surrealism, alchemy, it was broader, I would say we were working with ideas and pulling them in from all kinds of sources. Like Artaud[2], if you look at Artaud there’s a lot of occult influences in there already in his work, so by the fact that you are looking at somebody else that includes a magickal element it becomes hard to divorce all these things into separate places. You are pulling in all these different influences and ideas from different places, but underneath all of that there are all these connections. Like attracts like. It’s like a kind of magnetism I guess.

 

I remember you could always find Moonchild and the Colin Wilson books[3] and so on.

Yeah. There used to be a bookshop in Sheffield that would sell off books cheap, they used to buy end-of-stock off of some publishers, and stack them up and sell them, a hundred copies and when they’d gone they gone. They’d have things like Crowley Magic in Theory and Practice, really thick hardback books, pretty expensive now to buy and they’d have them for like a fiver or something. So you could buy them. I think they had, one time, The Hidden God and they were selling them for a couple of quid. And because we knew what we were looking for we found them. Or we were just lucky, we attracted them we were there when they were about, it’s like thinking about something then it becomes real, thinking about something then the next day you find it. Kind of like a cognitive intuition.

[1] Genesis P-Orridge aka Genesis Breyer P-Orridge co-founder of Coum Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, magickal artist, writer and theoretician. John Balance aka Jhon Balance founder of Coil and member of the first line-up of Psychic TV. See David Keenan England’s Hidden Reverse, SAF Publishing, 2003, p.30.

[2] Antonin Artaud, dissident surrealist author, devisor of the Theatre Of Cruelty and dramatist.

[3] For example: Colin Wilson’s The Occult: A History (1971) and Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast (1987).

How did those interests sit with other people at the time? What was your relationship with other bands in Sheffield at the time in the late seventies / early eighties?

We were very much a kind of outsiders in our own environment, we were always outsiders, we were trying to do things that were not typical. We would do these things like the PTI it was an abreaction, even in its own environment, it was against the contingent of people there, it was against the cult of those people, anti-stance in a way. We were confronting a hell of a lot of attitudes and mindsets and people didn’t like it, it held up a mirror to them and they didn’t want to see themselves. It’s a bit like Otto Muehl[4] – the use of bodily fluids, it’s something people don’t want to admit that we are all involved in it in someway. It’s inescapable. When people are confronted by this people don’t want to admit to it, it’s too close.

 

Can you describe the performance?

One of the performances we did we used animal entrails, all this stuff from slaughterhouses; lungs, spinal tracts… Offal I guess.

 

These were all on stage with you?

The performer was coming through a series of tunnels, there were a lot of strobes, we were projecting pornographic films, the soundtrack was very immense industrial… really overpowering. When all of that was unleased people didn’t know what to expect in a way, they moved back. The smell… It was all-intense in a way; I don’t think people could comprehend that. They’d never seen something like that.[5] I was on stage filming everything on super-8 [film] so we could use the films another project called Genitals and Genesis.

 

I don’t think people can comprehend that now. I don’t think people really grasp how that industrial scene really challenged how people saw events. People seem so conservative now in what they think a performance should be. I think a lot of that radicalism has been lost.

Absolutely. That’s what we were doing, confronting the audience directly, with direct action. It was based on Muehl’s Action Theatre, it was free of analysis of symbols and so on, but it was a direct confrontation with the audience. The reaction was typical in a sense; they didn’t know what to do, how to take it, what to say. Maybe later it reflects what happens to their minds, I don’t know. But for us it was necessary to confront audiences not just with PTI but with Clock DVA, it was all about really challenging perceptions in many ways. Doing things, utilizing things in a different way taking it further, exploring that other side of something.

Film still from The Denizens, TAGC © Adi Newton

Film still from The inhabitants of Nemirion, TAGC © Adni Newton

With Clock DVA you obviously did records with Industrial Records and Fetish Records, so how much were you around with the birth of Psychic TV and the Temple of Psychic Youth[6]?

I was aware of that, yeah, but I wasn’t involved in it. But I certainly was aware of it because Jhon Balance became very much a part of all of that.

 

So why didn’t you become involved in it?

Well we were doing our own things anyway. I don’t really particular follow any… I am not a follower of a cult or particular philosophy.

[4] Otto Muehl (aka Otto Muhl) is best known as one of the artists associated with the Vienna Aktionists, whose works were notorious for their examinations of corporality, psychology, sexuality and transgression. Muehl’s performances positioned the body as the centre of artistic experience. For more on Muhl’s work see Atlas Arkhive Seven Documents of the Avant-Garde: Brus Muehl Nitsch Schwarzkogler Writings of the Vienna Actionists, Atlas Press, 1999.

[5] The PTI performance at the Leadmill combined a thematic fascination with De Sade, performance art and Thelema with the sensory overload of strobe lights, film and bags of offal, all scored by tape loops. Footage from the event is included in the excellent 2009 Sheffield music documentary The Beat Is The Law Part 1 directed by Eve Wood.

[6] For more on The Temple of Psychic Youth see Genesis P-Orridge, Thee Psychick Bible, Feral House, 2010.

It’s interesting because obviously I was aware of the whole thing, but I would never join anything either. But I am intrigued because so many people went through that TOPY experience, especially people who became involved in avant-garde and experimental music subsequently.

Yeah. I am not really interested in following anything really. What I am interested in is the individual. I am interested in unique individuals who have a passion about what they do and that could be in any subject area. Someone who is pushing the boundaries, looking at something in a different way, using something in a different way, making new meanings, challenging old meanings to bring out new ideas and so on. That’s where my interest lies really.

That’s why I like [Michael] Bertiaux because Bertiaux has got this encyclopaedic knowledge of all of all of this information and he uses a lot of different things, he pulls in ideas from the occult, art, from Symbolism, from Surrealism, from pataphysics, and so on, a lot of different areas. I like that, I think that’s interesting, because these connections are there, in science, in all kinds of different areas: in art, spiritualism and philosophy.

Film still from Meontographical Cartography, TAGC © Adi Newton

In terms of magick, you are not particularly interested in going through initiation, the initiatory process of degrees and so on.

What I feel for myself is that, to me, magick is something that’s intuitively inside of someone, and you either have access to it or you don’t. It’s not a mater of learning; it’s a question of knowing without learning, if you understand what I am saying. It’s like being able to do something, but not knowing how to do it originally, but you do it because it’s inside of you. You access an area, which you have intuitively; you do it by an intuitive reflex.

The Surrealists talked about Pure Psychic Automatism and Crowley spoke of being a feeble transmitter for something much greater and vaster than himself. You just do these things or you think these things, it’s not learnt, it’s not something that someone passes down to someone else. I mean I can understand those teaching a didactic method, systems to allow different degrees and stages of being able to pass through different states and to understand different states or concepts, I can understand that. If I got involved in ceremonial or ritual magick it would be for very specific reasons or desires , but I haven’t felt the need to be exclusive in that sense just with occultism. I am more interested in the imagination, the tool of the imagination I guess, and that’s a very magickal tool you know.

You look at [Kenneth] Grant or Bertiaux and they are all saying the same thing: the artist’s imagination is a very magical tool, a very powerful tool, its like focusing and thinking and imagining and making these things, creating these worlds, and that’s what magick is in a way. A way of explaining or showing other dimensions accessing them, interpreting their symbolism and meanings in order to raise our own consciousness. There is a certain state of consciousness characterized by a strange perichoresis[7] in which the mundane senses, exalted and infused with the magically charged will, attract mysterious influences from Outside. The interaction of the elements of this world with those of that other universe known as the Meon[8] creates an ultra-dimensional reality to which the most sensitive artists (or magicians) alone are able creatively to respond. Austin Spare demonstrated visually the value of reverberant nostalgias as a means of magical mimesis and dream control.

[7] Newton subsequently expands on this, drawing attention to its etymology, observing that it is “a word   derived from Greek: peri ‘around’ + choreio ‘dance.’ For the Greeks ‘dancing’ wasn’t the rhythmic body movements we associate with dance . It was more like a ballet. ‘Choreography’ is a lot closer to the idea — in which particular movements are carefully planned and executed.”

[8] Newton writes via email: “Meon (MAON=l66) in Arab myth was ‘The Throne of Bel in the Heavens.’ The word also signifies the vulva, which typifies, like the vesica piscis, the Gateway _ in this case the gate of ingress for alien forces. Its number, 166, denotes Caligo maxima, the deepest darkness (of Outer Space). The Beth-Baal-Meon, according to Inman, was ‘a temple of lascivious rites,’ which suggests the formula of Agape (93).”

It strikes me that the whole TAGC aim of expanding consciousness of exploring and engaging with magickal research strikes me as exactly what you are saying.

Yeah. Definitely. Things we’ve done in the past, like the Burning Water [piece] is very much a way of opening up those psychic fields visually, the images almost create themselves in a way. It’s like the Austin Spare idea that the absence of architecture creates an architecture, things form out of themselves, and that’s what happens isn’t it? In blackness there will be something. Like when you go into a floatation tank and you are cut off from all senses, then the mind begins to work in itself and create incredible things because you are cut off from all of these senses, and it [the mind] starts to take over.

[Salvador] Dali refers to such magickally charged fetish-forms as “accommodations of desire”, which are visualised as shadowy voids, black emptinesses, each having the shape of the ghostly object which inhabits its latency, and which is only by virtue of the fact that it is not. This indicates that the origin of manifestation is non-manifestation, and it is plain to intuitive apprehension that the orgone of Reich, the Atmospheric ‘I’ of Spare, and the Dalinian delineations of the “accommodations of desire” refer in each case to an identical Energy manifesting.

Really in a way we are not using all our senses because we get used to doing certain things, we get used to using certain things, and we loose things in that process. Like the whole Faust myth; if you exchange something for something else and you lose something in exchange as well. Like telephones, we lose that ability to telepathically pass information, maybe at one time human beings could do that, maybe they could communicate in different ways, more intuitive [means of] passing information on.

 

I was reading recently that people used to navigate using the planet Venus in daylight, and that you still could see Venus in daylight, if you knew where to look, but people have lost that ability because they don’t need to, it’s a fantastic concept.

Yeah. It’s interesting, this whole idea of senses being gradually changed and modified over millennia, it’s fascinating sort of area really.

Film still from Teratological Pataphysical and Meontological Experiment I, HPB Dyzan, TAGC © Adi Newton

When you are talking about consciousness how do you personally perceive the concept of consciousness, what’s your understanding of it?

How do I conceive of it? That’s a difficult thing to answer. I think again that we are really still very much in an early stage I believe, In R. M. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness there is a scale of the levels of consciousness, our current state of consciousness is very much lower than the level of Cosmic Consciousness, so we are unable to understand how the whole thing works. Maybe that’s kind of necessary in some sense; that we don’t know how everything works. But, there’re so many theoretical ideas now about how the brain works and they don’t all correlate.

Some experiments have been done and they say they know particular regions in the brain where certain memories or functions are, or they say it’s synaptic responses to electricity, but then there are these ideas of chemical changes, you know, or these ideas that it’s a form of geometric construction like snowflakes that are happening all the time, changing patterns and that information in the brain is like that, a chemical thing, like blood and so on going through the body, so the brain is working with chemicals the whole time. And a chemical ingestion into the system will affect the brain. And we know this through psycho-botanical ingestion of drugs, that they have different effects. It’s chemistry, and chemistry is an ancient form: alchemy [from] the Egyptian ‘al-kimiya’, the black and burning land. It’s known – it has been known for thousands of years – how drugs or how certain things ingested will effectively change our consciousness, will affect our bodies, everything we introduce affects us. Everything we take in affects us in some way, but – it’s such a complex issue really – and I don’t think we are nearer to finding an answer in some way, but we know it’s something that affects us and has changed us culturally.

In talking about consciousness, one of the things I find interesting is that in the west the culture is about a duality of consciousness there’s just conscious and unconscious, expanded conscious is seen as being like being stoned, but there’s no other sense of what expanding your conscious is. The dominant paradigm in the west is so conservative; that there is only conscious or unconscious – and the importance of dreams or notions of the collective unconscious or whatever are ignored – our framework as a culture seems to be closed in the west to either wakeful (and productive) or asleep.

Yeah. Definitely. If you look at it the whole control of drugs is paramount in culture because they don’t want people to be on a higher level, they don’t want people to be aware of things. They want people on a certain level, so they don’t look any further than that. They can keep them in a stasis where they produce things.[9]

 

I love stuff like the Master Musicians of Joujouka[10], the idea ecstatic dancing and whirling dervishes and so on, and that idea of that as transforming…

Absolutely: the whirling dervishes, the spiral and dance and so on. It’s a way of releasing the soul I guess, the spirit from man, by transcending or going outside though putting the body into another realm, yeah, definitely. Either through some kind of physical activity, which creates this ecstatic sensation, or through the ingestion of psycho-botanical plants.

Baudelaire suggested that extreme exacerbation of the senses may cause an ultimate refinement of feeling and vision leading to an adumbration of pure aesthesis. Rimbaud went further, and with a similar aim announced a formula of total derangement of the senses. Crowley later adopted this formula with diligence and Spare was another aesthetic alchemist of this order.

It’s been there from the very beginning. The shamans, religion and everything else, is all tied up in it. All the symbols for religion are all harking back to these really ancient primal beliefs; Babylonian, Sumerian, you know. And all of those are kind of based on extraterrestrial ideas.

Film still from Teratological Pataphysical and Meontological Experiment I, HPB Dyzan, TAGC © Adi Newton

That’s interesting because that ties on with your recent work The Inhabitant’s of Nemirion from Meon 3 Transmission From The Trans Yoggothian Broadcast Station. In that whole piece you have got the multiple images of Tantra, the tunnels, the cross sections of the head, the mathematical symbols of consciousness, stars and so on. So you are kind of plugging into that whole thing in that video piece.

Yeah. It’s like a kind of energy. An external kind of energy that’s used in our world, it’s kind of influenced us a lot. We have always looked elsewhere to find ourselves in a way, to find our source of who we are. We have always looked beyond, and you can see that in lots of cultures, that kind of influence. And I think it’s a very interesting idea, I mean no one has any kind of conclusive proof of it, I don’t think, but it is there, there is so much of it. It’s not one single thing. It’s not like a single piece of evidence, it’s many, many factors all added up. But the idea of physical interaction, the idea of actual sexual integration with praetor human consciousness is extant in numerous religious mythologies.

[9] In a subsequent email Newton draws attention to Brion Gysin’s Notes On Painting, “An artist who is interested in all the structural problems of sensation and who examines with great objectivity and curiosity the possibility of sensorial enrichment innate in the perceptive capacity of man. His search, in short, is parascientific; he ventures into very particular areas, not limiting himself to theoretical discussion, as the dadaists did, but going into an actual examination of the semantic links to which we entrust ourselves daily with our senses. Obsessive repetition, the upsetting of our relationships, unconventional stimuli etc., constitute the instruments that permit us to examine the novelty of the reflexes of our conscience, and therefore also the novelty of the ways that they reveal themselves.”

[10] The Master Musicians of Joujouka are the Sufi musical group best known for their performance of ritual music during the ceremony of the Boujeloud, for further information see my ‘The Rites Of Boujeloud’, Fortean Times, Nov 2006.

What I enjoyed about that piece is that you combined high art things with scientific diagrams of the brain, with these ‘low culture’ ‘pulp’ magazine covers as well. You’re finding these sources everywhere.

Yeah, I mean look at the work of somebody like Clark Ashton Smith[11]. His ideas and stories are quite amazing, the thing we were talking about earlier, this idea of senses being changed, there was one particular story, I forgot which one it was called now, in which, somebody underwent a series of operations, [and it] changed their senses[12]. Because we have these limited senses.

I mean; our hearing is limited to so many cycles 18Hz or 20Khz max when we are really young, but gradually it diminishes. And the same with low level sounds and certainly ultrasonics, like megahertz and so on, then it’s changing all together, that frequency range, that vibration. But things do tune into it, animals can tune into it, dogs can hear ultrasonic sounds. And whales use really low frequency sounds to communicate, and the medium of water carries low frequency waves forever, across vast distances and times. And we are only tuning into a minute wavelength of things. It’s like particle physics.

We are only just beginning to realise that there are things that exist that don’t have mass and don’t have weight, that actually don’t interact with us at all. Like this Black [aka Dark] Matter and we don’t know how it works, but we know it is intrinsic and that it has to be there, but we don’t know what it is. So how many other things are there?

Film still from Teratological Pataphysical and Meontological Experiment I, HPB Dyzan, TAGC © Adi Newton

I wrote the other day, to a friend of mine, who was asking me about this occult thing, and I was saying, “I am not exclusive to the occult”, because she was saying, “It’s a bit weird. I don’t really like this chaos, I don’t like this darker stuff.” And I was saying, “Well look, if we say that there is no end and beginning, as far as I can see, things don’t end and don’t stop, that is an impossibility, so it has got to be continuum, and it’s infinite, then there has to be an infinite amount of possibilities.”

How can one say that this does not exist? If there is infinite possibility, we cannot even comprehend infinity because we don’t understand what that is. They say the universe started with the Big Bang, matter from energy, well, you know, there was something else before that. There were an infinite amount of things going on, all simultaneously, and maybe a lot of them didn’t even interact and didn’t know about each other and they were all existing separately but yet together. There are so many possible things. We really are very limited in the sense we don’t fully have the senses or the equipment to tune into those possible things, and so, inventions and science are sort of discovering ways, inroads, into those kinds of things. That’s interesting you know.

When you are working on a piece are you deliberately using certain kinds of sound, infrasound or ultrasound just to make the piece exist for hearing beyond the human aural range. Are you deliberately engaged with ideas of creating sounds for other beings and so on?

Well not… it’s creating sound which is… If you take certain frequencies away from certain sounds then you will notice, we may not be able to perceive very high frequencies but once they are engaged with a piece, if you remove them it has an effect. It has different kinds of effects because the way you perceive, interact so if you move your head you’ll pick up on something else. Because of the way frequencies work and the physical impact on the hearing system. So it’s really to put something else in there, something more, to give something to the atmosphere of it, it’s not overt but it is there and has an affect. So like, in that piece, there’s very high extreme frequency and a very low one, and they run concurrently, and inside of that there is a lot of other audio tonalities as well, these are sounds composed from different sources taking from areas of the subject area or suggested audio types of information I research the subject very carefully and search for information linked to audible connections.

There’s another piece on Meon 3 ‘Transmission From The Trans Yoggothian Broadcast Station. BIOLOGICAL RADIO SIGNAL FROM WAVELENGHT 10 40 56’ – which uses recordings of biological radio signals from Ursula Major, based on actual recordings made by L G Lawrence of the Ecola institute. Consisting of recordings of biological transmission signals from the region of space known as Ursa Major which contains the Binary Star System Sirius A and Sirius B, encoded by Lawrence using specially developed receivers they are quite amazing, they are actual biological radio frequencies and it does sound like, it does have a voice like quality to it, a kind of undecipherable code that’s voice like. And these are actual recordings, and that’s what they sound like when we can decode them. As biological radio signals are the fastest thing we know about. As fast as light, in some sense they are instantaneous. And animal’s can transmit them [and] plants. They can communicate with these biological radio signals.

Film still from Teratological Pataphysical and Meontological Experiment I, HPB Dyzan, TAGC © Adi Newton

One of the things I noticed in the Meontological Cartography you are writing, in the texts around that piece[13], about Baron Carl Von Reichenbach[14] and the idea of the Odic force which to me reminds me of Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone energy. And of course that’s another example of what you are talking about now, like these biological signals. It’s fascinating that you are crossing over these different discourses between science and the occult, for want of a better description, and your mixing of these things together is quite liberating.

Yeah, that’s the interest to me. There are these connections. Definitely Reich, I think [he] was absolutely brilliant. I’ve experienced Orgone first hand, it’s like an intense blue spark that just comes on for no apparent reason, whenever the circumstances are in the right position you have access to it. And I understand what he was saying about it, the energy and how it effects the body and everything else. You look at ancient science, tantric science, or Indian philosophy and you can see they knew incredible things that we are only just started to find out that actually are then true.

I did this thing called Psychophysicist with Andrew McKenzie[15], and it’s an album of psychophysical sound. And in the text there’s a section talking about this guy Hans Jenning, a Swiss scientist. He did a lot of experiments with sound and visualisation, and he invented this machine, a way of recording and being able to make a visualisation of sound, lets say, similar to an oscilloscope in some sense, but not an oscilloscope but what he called a tonascope, it works with a different set of parameters and it results in more accurate patterns of sound, geometric and frequencies of wave lengths, and he did a series of experiments using sounds and correlating them with visual information, and he did one based on the Indian mantra Aum / Om, and the seed symbol for Aum / Om is like a series of triangles in a certain pattern. Well, he did that through this device and the image is virtually identical – this collection of triangles that form this shape of this seed mandala. So these Indian Tantrics were drawing these pictures of sound, four or five thousand years ago, without any technicality, without any technical things.

[11] Clark Ashton Smith (1893 – 1961) was a science fiction author, best known for his contributions to Weird Tales, and similar publications, alongside HP Lovecraft and others. Part of Lovecraft’s circle, Smith’s work was influenced by Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos.

[12] Almost certainly the short story A Star-Change (1930) which details an operation to enable a man to experience the senses necessary for existence on a new world.

[13] Adi Newton and Jane Radion Newton, ‘The Denziens of Beyond’.

[14] Carl (aka Karl) Ludwig von Reichbach (1788 – 1869), posited the Odic force as a universal force, parallels can also be drawn with Vedantic notion of prana.

[15] Released as: Psychophysicist Psychophysicists, Side Effects 1996.

Intuitively.

Intuitively: from their mind, from their feelings, from their inner source, and documenting it. It’s incredibly really when you consider something like that, to be able to have an insight like that. It’s astonishing.

 

Can you talk about the Meon 3 project, which I know people are excited to hear is forthcoming.

It’s a hardback book and a DVD, and each track is a visual invocation of the subject area. The book is broken into chapters and each is a descriptor of the paradigms that the invocation is based around, so,  Meontographical Cartography represents an official collaborative piece sanctioned by Bertaux, and  also includes Alfred Jarry’s[16] engravings from L’Ymagier (a publication which appeared in eight issues).In The Inhabitants of Nemirion the paradigm is based around the Nemirion a term used by Michael Bertiaux to denote Boullanist Adepts of Rigel ,in the constellation of Orion. Bertiaux is able to apply, scientifically, a formula for reactivating primal phases of elemental consciousness. [To me] is reminiscent of Austin Spare’s formula of Atavistic Resurgence and it is significant that Bertiaux names Spare as a member of the Inner (i.e. Astral) Council of his magical cult. Another discarnate human spirit claimed by Bertiaux is the Abbe Boullan.

 

I want to talk about the piece The Meontographical Cartography a little more, because that was interesting to me because you are working with voodoo iconography, with medieval icons, and also Jarry and Bertiaux.

Most of the paintings are Bertiaux’s, all from the Vudu Cartography, and so they are the representation of that particular work, kind of an autobiographical thing I think, but what I liked when I was working on it was the colourations, because when I started putting it all together I started to notice it moved through this spectrum of colour. When I was reading some things from Bertiaux and I found this concept of perichoresis, this idea of matter and information forming a choreographed pattern and shape, and that being reflected in art and science and so on, and that was a fascinating idea, and really I tried to bring that out in that piece, because it moves in that way that brings all these images out. It’s like a perichoresis. It’s these shapes and patterns and images coming through, changing and evolving all the time its very visual, it’s got a lot of symbolism in there.

The thing with Jarry, I noticed there was a lot of similarity in some ways with Bertiaux’s drawings in his [Bertiaux’s] early kind of black and white images, the kind of symbols and so on, with snakes, magical images, alchemical images, were there in Jarry’s things as well. Because Jarry was interested in that kind of symbolism: the Indian Upanishads, hermeticism, alchemical notions and teratology, he really had a hell of an insight into all of these things. An amazing amount of information that Jarry brought in, especially in Faustroll, he brings in a massive amount of stuff, incredible things, postulates these ideas about different universes about different possibilities, the pataphysical notions are incredible expansions of knowledge in a way. They kind of throw our ideas up and make us think in a different way. And they are finding that actually, Jarry is probably right, there are these incredible weird, odd things in the universe: anti-matter (laughs).

Film stills from Meontographical Cartography, TAGC © Adi Newton

The way in which Jarry talks about pataphysics as the science of universes other than this one is fantastic[17]. Obviously you are drawing a parallel between this and meontology.

Definitely. Bertiaux himself talks about pataphysics and so on, so he’s aware of all that stuff. It’s a very strong imaginative magick, that extreme individuals like Jarry were able to access, write about and create with. He had access to worlds that we didn’t have at that time, he went in and documented it and made us aware of it, so yeah, in some sense, you can draw parallels between these kind of people that are accessing areas and pulling in information from different places and really re-focusing those things and bringing them out so that people can see them. I thought that they seemed to naturally work together for me. In a paradigm the content of each artist has a similarity, that’s kind of intuitive and is there in the first instance.

[16] Alfred Jarry, legendary play write and author of, amongst others, Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll, Pataphysician (1911) and the notorious play Ubu Roi (1896).

[17] The correct reference is “Pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this one; or, less ambitiously, will describe a universe which can be – and perhaps should be – envisioned in the place of the traditional one…” (Roger Shattock and Simon Watson Taylor, eds, Selected Works, Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1980, p.192).

One thing I am interested in is that you have multiple images happening simultaneously, double exposures, playing over each other, what draws you to that doubling and tripling of layers of images?

The way I have been working particularly with those pieces it is a kind of Chorozonic idea, in that you have got this mass of images. If you think of Choronzon as something that contains everything, Choronzon represents dispersion, and you are confronted with this immense thing which you can’t comprehend and it is full of everything, and it is full of all the things, all of the images that we can possibly think of all coming out at the same time, it’s like representing that in some ways. You have got this incredibly morphology of form that is continuously changing.

It’s similar in some senses to the Burning Water, it’s a kind of Rorschach Test but it’s much more complex because it’s always changing all the time. Continuously morphing in different ways, so each time you see it you’re going to see something else, you’re going to see different things, you’ll never see the same thing, not in Burning Water. I’ve watched it for fifteen years and I still don’t know all of the things in it, because what I could do is make different stills of each one and they’d all be different. Even if I could take 24 frames from it, and do that all the way through for thousands and thousands of images, they’d all be different and changing all the time and as you watch it, it kind of overlaps so you can never get the same thing, and your mind as well – how it perceives it- is going to be different according to how you feel or your mental outlook that day. Or how you are thinking about something else. Or how you are feeling that day. Then that’s going to affect it.

Film still from The Inhabitants of Nemirion, TAGC © Adi Newton

So how long does it take to make one of these films, with all the layers of images, and programming and so on?

A hell of a long time (laughs), it’s a process and I have to go through this process of doing it. And it’s just really time consuming and it’s slow because I am having to take each thing and build it up, then build it up, then build it up, so each time it’s getting more and more… I have to speed them up so I get the right kind of change and right kind of feel and flow because two less and its not enough and two many and it is too much

 

Yes, because the density of images you are working with is immense. Just watching how dense the iconography is and the references, it’s a huge piece of work.

It is. It’s taken a long time. I wouldn’t want to say how many hours. It’s just a process that you need to do. It just takes that length of time to do, and you have to keep doing it in a way to get it to the level you want, it’s very slow and methodological but you have to keep doing it, [you] feel things start to happen and you know you are on the right track, and you can develop it more. You might need to bring in more visuals, or it might suggest something else, or I might see something that needs to come in, there’s a hell of a lot of images in there.

 

To what extent are you practicing magickal rituals and so on while you are creating the work?

Practising magick? I suppose it is in a way, but in a individualistic way, the process of creation is more of a process of alchemical distillation, trying to get to what Rabelais described as the marrow, that mysterious essence within the bone, you are using symbols, you are using symbols or paintings, and they are all symbolic or have meanings either representational or abstracted images, so when you are working with those you are putting them together in a certain sequence or formulae and evoking an idea, evoking a certain image or feel, it is a magickal process. It’s like working with sigils I guess, these are like sigils, like lots and lots and lots of them. Or talismans to consecrate, fulfil. Whatever you want to call them. All working together to create one huge invocation I guess. That’s the intention certainly.

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