Virilio asserts that that the contemporary world is awash with technological apparatus that can be manipulated in order to remotely alter our belief patterns.1 The primary “weapon” of choice it seems is the television, designed or utilised in the control and management of public fear: Through “the weapons of mass communication” whose arsenal never stops growing thanks to satellite dishes and the feats of “psychological operations” (PSYOPS) designed to sow panic while pretending to quell it”.2 In what amounts to a form of technological paranoia, it is even presumed that these technologies will at some point literally enter our minds - Surveillance culture - cameras that track our movements, analyse facial features, “decide” whether we are acting suspiciously or not.3 Whilst popular press headlines encourage us to believe that developments within neuroscience have already resulted in “Telepathy Machines”, capable of some form of direct thought access. 4
Within Hexen Treister includes texts and pictures referencing devices, that in the popular imagination, link to mind control techniques and telepathic contact: Images of psychically produced Remote drawings”, hypnosis equipment, divining crystals and TV towers (Figure 1 & 2). Given contemporary paranoias relating to invasive mind-controlling technologies it is possible to view Hexen's multiple references to mind-controlling technologies, set alongside a sinister futuristic mind-alteration device as a response to the perceived encroachment of twenty-first century technologies into our lives.5 It is interesting to note then, that Treister does not generally adopt (invented) futuristic technological imagery. Instead the subject is approached almost exclusively from an angle that is neither futuristic, nor even particularly contemporary, adopting devices and technologies associated with previous eras. The use of “Remote” drawing techniques for instance, adhere to nineteenth century experiments into psychically produced imagery – an idea that was especially prevalent in occult photography of the period.6 Whilst divining crystals relate to pre-enlightenment beliefs that lens based technologies could tap directly into the occult.7
By incorporating technologies associated with an earlier age, Treister is entering into historical discourses, where such devices have been discussed not just in terms of their scientific applications, but also in conjunction with perceived occult properties. Historical records suggest that technologies such as the camera obscura, the microscope, optical prisms, telescopes, microscopes, and cameras were perceived not just as devices of discovery and wonderment, but also as devices of illusion with links to the occult1. Although early lens based technologies were used in scientific contexts, such as the observation of planets, or the investigation of micro-organisms2, evidence also suggests that the Renaissance world viewed "Burning glasses and curious mirrors” as being “possessed of powerful forces” capable of prophecy and divination.3 Forces that in contemporary terms might be regarded as an invisible, pervasive surveillance culture, but in historical terms were attributed the demons, spirits, ghosts and related phenomena.
Above:Suzanne Treister GRAPHITE /Hypnosis Lamp, Germany (2006) . Below: Suzanne Treister GRAPHITE/Brocken TV Tower and Radar Domes, Harz Mountains, Germany (2006).