Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Electric to me turn

Electric to me turn this night
Reflecting universal light
All I knew that should be true
Is reality in you
Turn! Turn to me... electric!

Electric to me turn and see
The universe reflecting me
All I am I would not be
Without your electricity
Turn! Turn to me... electric!

This is the begining of the first track in Bruce Haack's 1970 record Electric Lucifer, and has become one of my favorite songs. Haack was an early electronic musician, and composer of quite odd and futuristic music for children (starchildren, actually). He's always been a rather reclusive character, and purposedly keept away from the mainstream of entretainment industry. Now he's gaining more recognition, and his records are becoming widely available. There's also a tribute record and a documentary.

Search for Haack's records in P2P networs, he'd be more than happy to know that people is sharing his music. I assure you, we're the starchildren this music was originally intended for.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Flesh Gordon (1974)

This parody of Flash Gordon defies classification. Some people may say it's porn, but the special effects and script are just too good for porn. Flesh Gordon, Dale Ardor and Dr. Flexi Jerkoff travel to planet Porno to fight Emperor Wang (the Perverted) who is pointing his sex ray to Earth. In planet Porno they meet giant penis-shaped monsters, lesbian revolutionaries, robots that attempt to screw them, cannibal dykes, and Prince Precious... if you're a fan of the original serial you'll enjoy this movie. Go watch it! IMDB entry.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Shulgin Project

The Shulgin Project is a forthcoming documentary about the extraordinary lives of Alexander Shulgin and his wife Ann. Here's the trailer.

PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story
TiHKAL: The Continuation
Ask Dr. Shulgin Online

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tanzanian Rap

X PlastazRecently I've been listening hip-hop from Tanzania. It's very interesting how the tanzanian youth have taken advantage of hip-hop as a medium to transmit their own message, and thanks to this some aspects of the Maasai culture are reaching the globe.
Some of the best known tanzanian crews are Kwanza Unit, II Proud, NWP (Niggers With Power), Mwanza, GWM (Gangsters With Matatizo), Hard Blasters, De-Plow-Matz and X Plastaz.
The group X Plastaz is paradigmatic. They started rapping in English, copying American rappers such as Public Enemy, and later they turned back to their roots, rapping about local issues in Swahili. Some of their videos are filmed in Maasai villages and show the traditional lifestyle. Check out Aha for a glimpse of the rich Tanzanian culture.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fluid Mechanics & Art

Splash of a drop of milkI have a fascination for fluid mechanics. For my video art projects, I've been filming phenomena that could be said to illustrate fluid mechanics, such as water splashes, water waves forming interference patterns, turbulent mixtures of liquids with different colors (milk, fluorescent inks, tempera) and different refraction factors (water, cooking oil, ethanol, dichloromethane), vortices of water and smoke, etc.

Cigarette positively bouyant jetI've been also searching the web for similar ideas, and I found the Gallery Of Fluid Mechanics. Also, several videos and pictures are available from T. T. Lim's page, including the video of two water vortex rings colliding. And the University of Colorado has a course in Flow Visualization (Physics & Art of Fluid Flow); take a look at the amazing class galleries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring is one of my favorite comic-book artists. His work depicts incredibly beautiful worlds inhabited by bizarre creatures. I've heard that many of his comics were inspired by dreams and hallucinations (Jim was one of the speakers in the 2005 Mind States conference). The cat-like character in the picture is Frank. Japanese artist Fuyama Taruto has made a short animation based on Frank. You can find more art work in Jim's web site, or in many of his books available from Fantagraphics. I'm very happy with my copy of The Frank Book. And I bet Seeing Things is wonderful too, I'll include it in my next Amazon order.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lessons Of Darkness

In 1992, Werner Herzog travaled to Kuwait to document the aftermath of the Gulf War. The end result is Lessons of Darkness.
Herzog's voice narrates the invasion without going into details about who the invaders are. The infrared images of the bombings transmited by CNN evoke flying saucers. "The war lasted just a few hours." Herzog reads fragments of the Book of Revelation while flying over the infernal landscape on a helicopter.
Lakes of hydrocarbons, giant columns of fire, black toxic clouds. The beauty is overwhelming, but Herzog doesn't forget that it came from destruction. When he shows a torture chamber, a room full of torture tools, words are unnecesary. There is a Kuwaiti woman with her son; she explains that the kid won't speak, he refuses to speak since the invasion started. We are left with the ecstatic images of devastation.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I love the work of Stan Brakhage, especially the hand-painted films. For him, film is about seeing, pure visual awarness dissociated from narrative, perspective or compositional logic. His work explores all forms of vision, not just the open-eye vision of ordinary experience, but also peripheral and hypnagogic vision, visual thinking, dream, hallucination and entoptic imagery. Like Dziga Vertov, he was interested in that which is unique to film and could not be translated to other arts such as theatre or literature.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ici et ailleurs

Last weekend I watched Ici et ailleurs by the Groupe Dziga Vertov (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Anne-Marie Miéville).

The film began in 1970, when Al Fatah contacted Godard to film a documentary about the palestinian revolution. Godard and Gorin traveled to Palestine and recorded the lives of palestinians training for the imminent revolution. The film was going to be named Victory. But soon most of the people in the film had been killed, and then film production was halted.

In 1974 Godard and Miéville reconstructed the film transforming it into a multimedia essay about the recording of history and the political use of the image, combining film, videotape, photography, on-screen text and television. The new film was named Ici et ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere).

Monday, July 04, 2005


Let's remember today all the people whose lives have changed due to US military action, especially the victims of torture and the people murdered by US bullets. And let's have some fun with those fucking fireworks too!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I Ching

I'm developing a dialogue with the I Ching. Every night before I go to sleep I consult the I Ching, and it's making more sense every time. It is talking to me. Either that, or I'm going nuts.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Save The Planet, Kill Yourself

The other day a friend played Save The Planet, Kill Yourself at the office; electronic eco-radical music, so powerful it could kill ten popes. Googling we found out about the Church Of Euthanasia, some sort of dataist anti-christian eco-radical group obviously influenced by situationism. The One Commandment: "Thou shalt not procreate". Check out the family album.

So that day I found out about The Church of Euthanasia, and that alone was quite amusing. Amusing? Fuck, that's nothing compared to what happened the night after! I experienced a really weird synchronicity. I was in a spiritual mood meditating about life, the universe and everything, playing with a handful of ideas. If somebody had seen the connection between these ideas, I decided, that person must have understood the secret of life, the universe and everything. So I searched Google:

tao change life information language entropy

The top result: Church of Euthanasia - Snuff It 4 - The Age of Simulation. I followed the link, but it wasn't the answer to the ultimate question (at all)... for a moment I thought I've finally found it ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Madres, y Nito Artaza pero pintado

I took this picture on March 24, 2005, in Buenos Aires, during the demonstration for the 29th anniversary of the coup d'état that led a military junta to power. The rally is headed by members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. On the background, the frivolous: Nito Artaza (a can-can politician) laughes and Moria (a talk show host) exhibits the boobs.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Last night I went to the MALBA (Museum Of Latin American Art Of Buenos Aires) to see a live interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky. It was magical and funny. After the interview we drank wine. And then, in ethylic inebriation, we proceeded to the projection of Jodorowsky's masterpiece Santa Sangre.
Jodorowsky is one of my most beloved heros. Actor, playwright, magician, filmmaker, puppeteer, clown, comic-book writer, mime, poet, shaman; he's a true artist. I highly recommend The Holy Mountain and El Topo (both available on P2P networks). Jodorowsky's been repeatedly accused of blasphemy, and during the screening of his first movie a mob tried to lynch him. Yet he's one of the most beautiful and sensitive persons I've known.
I recorded the full interview on video, and it will soon be online.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Happy Bicycle Day!

Since 1984 some people have observed Bicycle Day on April 19th. This is the anniversary of the day that Albert Hofmann intentionally took LSD in 1943. On the 16th Hofmann accidentally absorbed a bit of LSD, but the 19th was the first intentional experience, when he took what he then considered a minimum effective dose, 250 mics. In LSD, My Problem Child he records that day:

"By now it was already clear to me that LSD had been the cause of the remarkable experience of the previous Friday, for the altered perceptions were of the same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle, no automobile being available because of wartime restrictions on their use. On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me we had traveled very rapidly."

In this dark hour of ignorance and superstition about psychedelics, you can light a candle of hope and reason. To commemorate the bicycle ride that changed the world forever, let's celebrate Bicycle Day with bicycle trips, sending cards with bicycle pictures to friends, joyful picnics, and other festive activities.

Remember Bicycle Day and Keep it Holy.
[This article was originally posted to the MAPS mailing list]

Fuck the Pope

Joseph Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. He hates homosexuals. He denounced Buddhism as "autoerotic spirituality", and predicted it would replace Marxism as the main enemy of the Catholic Church (sic). He opposes contraception and the use of condoms (I guess you don't need them if you only fuck virgin altar boys). It was disturbing to see the multitude gathered in St Peter's square hailing their new Führer. He's a fascist mother fucker. Fuck the Pope!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Three Origamis

Here are three stellated polyhedra I've folded. The left one is a small stellated dodecahedron made of isosceles triangle units, and to the right a small triambic icosahedron with Sonobe units. Each one is composed of 30 modules.

And here's a stellation of the octahedron with 12 Sonobe units:

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Psychoactive plants in Buenos Aires

The Buenos Aires city government did a census of the trees and plants in the city. The census found a few psychoactive plants that have a long history of shamanic use. (Gracias Ibarra!)

Datura arborea (Floripondio or Peruvian trumpets), rich in atropine and scopolamine (especially in the seeds), can be found at: Arquimedes 2258, Caracas 2458, Ferre 2610, Mendez de Andes 764, Mendez de Andes 771, Mom 2868, Puan 566, Quesada 2815, Dr. Nicolas Repetto 561, Tabare 1121, Felipe Vallese 1077, and Zamudio 3042. Regarding the use of these plants, it is worth reading Shulgin's word of caution.

There are also two trees of the Anadenanthera sp. identified as Curupay: Gavilan 4337, and Emilio Mitre 1326. I think this is the same as Cebil (Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil), and in that case the seeds contain big amounts of 5-HO-DMT (bufotenine). Jonathan Ott has found over 3% bufotenine in Cebil seeds. Its shamanic use in America dates from over 3000 years ago. But bufotenine is not fun. In first place, it seems to be psychedelic only (if at all) at doses close to neurotoxic levels, and in second place the somatic effects are very unpleasant (nausea and suffocation). On the other hand, if it turned out to be Anadenanthera peregrina (Yopo or Cohoba), it should contain mainly 5-MeO-DMT and DMT, and that's a different story.

Other plants in the census that may be psychoactive are cestrum nocturnum (with scopolamine and atropine), and the acacias (some contain tryptamines). And, of course, the ipomoea violaceas growing on my balcony ;)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ragas and Talas

Lately I've grown more interested in Indian music. I've been listening some records by Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Ustad Allah Rakha and Ustad Sabri Khan. I highly recommend them.

Indian classical music is mostly improvised on the basis of a raga and a tala. Ragas provide a set of rules to construct melodies, while talas define the rythmic patterns.

The sitar is a quite alien instrument to the Western ear. A distinctive feature of the sitar are the sympathetic strings; they are tuned according to each particular raga and resonate in sympathy with the main strings, adding harmonic overtones. Also, very expressive microtonal variations are achieved pulling or bending the strings.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Palais Idéal

Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman who in 1879 tripped on a stone, and the shape of the stone inspired him to build a castle. He spent the following 33 years building his vision with stones collected along the daily mail route. Locals regarded him as a village idiot. His work is the Palais idéal.

Simultaneously, the organic visons of the Catalan architect Gaudí were materializing in Barcelona. Gaudí spent the last years of his life obsessed with the greatest of his works, the still unfinished church La Sagrada Familia.

About a century before Le Palais Idéal and La Sagrada Familia, in the phantasmagoria of an opium-induced dream, Coleridge received a poem, the Kubla Khan, that relates the construction of a palace by mongol emperor Kublai Khan. He awoke and began transcribing it, but someone at the door interrupted him and most of the Kubla Khan was lost for ever. Twenty years later appeared the first Western version of an old Persian book that Coleridge couldn't possibly know, and it read: "To the East of Shangtu, Kublai Khan erected a palace, according to a plan he had seen in a dream and kept in his memory."

Today, a century after Cheval and Gaudi, two centuries after Coleridge, and seven centuries after Kublai Khan, visonary artist Alex Gray is building the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.

Some links:
El sueño de Coleridge from Other Inquisitions (1952), Borges
Intuit: Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Raw Vision magazine (outsider art)
Collection de l'Art Brut
Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval (requires Flash)
Palais Idéal photo gallery
Life and Works of Gaudí
Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Endogenous Video Feedback

Entoptic is a general term used to describe endogenous imagery, such as phosphenes or the closed eye visuals produced by many psychedelics. Entoptic images can be shaped as spirals, latices, cobwebs, tunnels, etc, as in the following illustration (from the classification of phosphenes by Max Knoll, 1965):

In the 70s, anthropologist Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff noticed entoptic patterns in the art of the Tukano (in Colombia). He extensively documented the images seen in the early stages of the yage (ayahuasca) experience.

In their 1988 article "The Signs of All Times" (Current Anthropology 29:201-245), Lewis-Williams and Dowson postulated entoptic phenomena (experienced by shamans in trance states, possibily induced by psychoactive agents) form the basis for images in Upper Paleolithic cave art.

I have talked about video feedback before (the feedback loop that happens when a video camera is pointed to the monitor). Now, compare entoptic patterns with images produced by video feedback. I think the similarity is remarkable. My idea is that a process equivalent to video feedback might take place in the visual cortex. A biological counterpart of an optoelectronic feedback loop. The image of the homunculus playing with a video camera comes to my mind ;) but what I'm actually suggesting is that perhaps we project back to the striate cortex what we're aware of. If such process occurs within the visual cortex, backprojections from higher cortical areas to V1 must be involved in the generation of entoptic imagery. Supporting this idea, there is evidence that the backprojection from V5 to the V1 is necessary for the perception of moving phosphenes (evoked by magnetic stimulation of V5).

Furthermore, Lewis-Williams and Dowson formulate seven principles of perception for entoptic images: Replication, Fragmentation/Integration, Superpositioning/Juxtapositioning, Reduplication, and Rotation. Those principles are the sort of image transformations that apply in each iteration of a video feedback loop.

Here are some links and references:
Form & Meaning in Altered States & Rock Art
Altered States: The Origin of Art in Entoptic Phenomena
Dr. Tom's Video Feedback Gallery
The Ultimate Video Feedback Page
Daniel A. Pollen, 'On the Neural Correlates of Visual Perception'
Silvanto et al, 'Striate cortex (V1) activity gates awareness of motion'
Juan, Walsh, 'Feedback to V1: a reverse hierarchy in vision'