GEORGE VAN TASSEL
In this performance, the life and work of George Van Tassel-builder of the Integratron located near Joshua Tree, California-acted as a node for the exploration and presentation of research into topics such as UFO contactees, magnetic vortices, cell rejuvenation, time travel, sacred geometry, ley lines, visionary architecture, the desert landscape, pulp paperbacks, gnosis, the relationship between extraterrestrials and the Bible, and freedom on Spaceship Earth.
The presentation was developed through the framework of a lecture with photos, video, narration, music, and sound. For me, the most gratifying part of every project is the research that leads, invisibly, to a finished piece; here, the research itself became the culmination of the project. I enacted the role of “expert” in this lecture, explaining phenomena such as electromagnetic energy healing and specific details of the act of channeling. This stance of top-down knowledge transfer was clearly situated within the performative through actions such as delivering a message from the being Ashtar to George Van Tassel while manipulating shortwave radios and electronic reverb pedals.
The performative in this lecture points toward the performative in every lecture, toward the assumed roles that act to confer authority to teachers, pundits, and amateurs. Who speaks, who listens, and how? I was considering, especially, the relationship between knowledge and the document. What constitutes a documentary? This type of performance refers back to pre-cinematic practices that eventually gave rise to documentary film, such as the travel lecture that might include sound effects and magic lantern slides in addition to a live narration. As travelogues often highlighted the exotic and fantastic with the veneer of the scientific, this performance strove to seriously consider and present ideas, transmissions, and physical/mental spaces generally located on the fringes of culture.
“You will be hearing of an increase of phenomena resulting in many hallucinations, so-called, by your people. We have been in your immediate vicinity. I repeat. Do not be alarmed by unusual occurrences around you. We are now over your Mississippi River and now we arrive in your city of San Francisco…. Our plans are taking shape. Be prepared for anything. My love. I am Ashtar.” (From a communication between Ashtar and George Van Tassel in 1953.)