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the ten dimensional maze


︎Book, Graphic Design, Digital Illustration, Article  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


Like all original ideas, they run the risk of being simply wrong, but because what they seek to do is so grandiose they to some degree fall upon the eye of the beholder to assess, and it is for this that they are worth communicating.

One such original idea is that of Marshall Mcluhan’s, a popular media theorist who’s work has succumbed ironically to the weight and historical abstraction of the print and electric mediums he tried to deconstruct.

Mcluhan stated that the use of language was a technology, or an ‘outering’ of inner thoughts. It was also suggested that all kinds of technological media were an extension of man. Electricity being the extension of the nervous system, clothing an extension of the skin, the wheel an extension of the foot, the telephone an extension of the voice and so on. McLuhan’s theory of media places human thought in the same context as the pre-materialist sciences. In other words, an alchemical conjunction, science as an extension of spirituality. Simply put, what this means is that environment is a reflection of what we communicate, and our tools, or technologies for doing this, are anything from print to microchips to plant alkaloids.
McLuhan was also remembered for his phrase the ‘Global Village’, where our connectedness would be permitted through electricity, instead of closely formed tribal societies. This idea came some forty years before our current understanding of online communication, with Facebook being the obvious example that legitimises this phrase.




McLuhan was also remembered for his phrase the ‘Global Village’, where our connectedness would be permitted through electricity, instead of closely formed tribal societies. This idea came some forty years before our current understanding of online communication, with Facebook being the obvious example that legitimises this phrase.

 

“The combination becomes a strange alchemical stew bubbling with the notion of spirituality grappling with the cybernetic environment.”


In the book, ‘The Ten Dimensional Maze: A Digital Fantasy in the Spirit of Lewis Carroll’ (written and illustrated by a North Yorkshire design duo, Jan and Ted Arundell in 1995 and published by Tasman Studio) the ideas of McLuhan start to manifest in a dazzling display of computer generated graphics, dizzying in their imagination, alongside a dysfunctional, nonlinear storyline, featuring the protagonist Whizkid, and his wizard counterpart Merlin. The combination becomes a strange alchemical stew bubbling with the notion of spirituality grappling with the cybernetic environment.



For some readers, The Ten Dimensional Maze will probably represent nothing more than a foray into the kitsch regions of psychedelia, but I think it contains much more nuance than this. More often than not the term psychedelic doesn’t retain the credibility it deserves, partly due to the aesthetic of visual countercultural communication of the 60’s and 70’s. In the true sense of the word, it is an attempt to manifest the soul, to evoke the mind in order to carve it out of whatever substance we have at our disposal. In the case of ‘The Ten Dimensional Maze’ it was computer generated, flute playing shamans in a hyperreality, oversaturated with unfamiliar symbols and eccentric iconography. An analogy, I imagine, as being not too dissimilar from the prospect of virtual realty, looming on the horizon of the mind during the mid-nineties.

Referring back to McLuhan’s idea of electricity being an extension of the nervous system, and language as a kind of technology, we can ask the question, is the psychedelic experience, more a drug or a machine?
Our vocabulary on describing the use of computers and technology in general, hasn’t really changed since the industrial revolution. There is a sense that computers are devices limited by the reach of economy alone, regulating our societies nevertheeless, but never venturing into the vast cosmos of ontology. The opposite is true for the psychedelic experience, as it never enters into our social discourse, and the two worlds never seem to meet, yet both greatly influence how we live. But computers too are bound in these strange myths of the ontological matrix, and are things of alchemical artifice themselves.



Tantalum (a highly corrosive-resistant transition metal) used in computers and smartphones, is named after a greek antihero who stole a gold dog from Olympus and boiled his son into a soup to gain a seat at the table of the Gods. As punishment for his arrogance, he was destined to stand in a pool of water under a fruit tree, with the water receding every time he tried to take a drink. The fruits were also just out of reach, so he was never able to gain nourishment for his initial material aspirations (This is the story of where we derive the english word ‘tantalising’).

If the story of Tantalus is not a forewarning of how we utilise technology solely for the purpose of industry, in confromtation with the detrimental effects it has on our environment and our inability to reap the rewards of our individual creativity, then I don’t know what is.


“The DNA is being read, the databases are being created and the protocols for moving through them are permissions to a new level of intelligence.”



We see, or feel, that the origins of alchemy, psychedelia, computers, language and other technologies share this strange esoteric birthplace, but it is mainly our description that renders them separate. Terence McKenna once asserted that we can look at the whole thing as a factory of moving mechanical parts. The DNA is being read, the databases are being created and the protocols for moving through them are permissions to a new level of intelligence. The only difference between computers and psychedelics, is that one is easier to swallow. The Internet and…computers…are actually made from materials of the earth. They’re largely metals: silicon, glass, copper, gold, and silver. These are the things that the alchemist dreamt of. They transform space and time, they allow us to speak at a distance, and they allow us to wander through libraries thousands of miles distant.  They make it so that no fact is too obscure and no person so hidden that you can’t reach them.
Believe what you may, understand as much as you can, the truth is true enough. But as we delve further and further into our societal psychologies in these trying political and economic times, the one notable difference is that our tribalism and connectedness is somewhat expanded electronically, making progressive and psychedelic ideals more readily assimilated and absorbed into our amorphous collective idea pool. The compassion for the tribe is itself extended through electricity.


“Once the puppet’s remains had been gathered…they felt free to consider their surroundings.” - The Ten Dimensional Maze.





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