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Towards a Cosmotechnic Psychedelia: film screenings and panel discussion

May 27 @ 1:00 pm 5:30 pm

Towards a Cosmotechnic Psychedelia is an event presented by arebyte in collaboration with artist and researcher Helen Knowles. The event comprises screenings of films by artists and a panel discussion that seeks to explore various topics described in Yuk Hui’s ‘Cosmo technics’, from alternate states and entity encounters to ethical, moral, and social influences. These factors continue to shape the use of psychedelics and plant-based medicinal tools by communities in the Global South, like Putumayo in Colombia, and in affluent Western societies.

The event is part of Helen’s current PhD research, titled “More Than Human Healthcare”, which involves collaborations with the Psychedelic Trials Team at King’s College London, the London AI Centre, and members of the Inga community in Putumayo, Colombia.

This event looks beyond the West to move towards anti-universalist and pluralist perspectives on technologies and tools of connection. It aims to explore how artistic interventions and methods of narrative-building can assist us in creating collective awareness and connection in the contemporary context of the climate emergency, as well as questioning how we cement solidarity without extractive or hierarchical agendas.

The event will begin with the screening of the experimental documentary film True Hallucinations, directed by Péter Bergmann and based on Terence McKenna’s book Journey to La Chorerra. The film details his brother’s journey to Putumayo and the experiments that ensued, blending 90s computational aesthetics with found footage of McKenna and his brother, alongside McKenna’s famously hypnotic oration. This complex historical work forms the basis for understanding the problematic, extractive, Western-centric botanical objective to discover and sail the psychoanalytical seas of inner consciousness.

From here, we see more contemporary takes on the points raised (or ignored) in McKenna’s lifework: Ursula Biemann’s exploration of intelligence in nature from both shamanic and scientific perspectives and Patricia Dominguez’s enquiry into experimental ethnobotany and organic connection technologies that expand the perception of the vegetal and the spiritual world. Looking towards an embodied approach of psychedelics in medicine and mental health, Andrea Khora visualises the effects of 10mg of ketamine inserted intravenously, creating hallucinogenic and otherworldly images. Suzanne Triester approaches non-colonialist plans towards a techno-spiritual imaginary of alternative visions of survival on earth via a body of work titled TECHNOSHAMANISM. This sees an expansion and redefinition of technology that is engineered and redirected in new ways for positive global futures away from mainstream economic, corporate and governmental forces. Rebeca Romero’s Voyager also questions the legitimacy of the notion of “discovery” and proposes a reassessment of dominant notions of intelligence, technology, and knowledge.

Panellists include artist Helen Knowles, Clinical Trials Manager at King’s College, London, Catherine Bird, and artist Andrea Khora, with contributions from Dr Hernando Chindoy Chindoy, former Inga Community Leader, Legal Representative of the Territorial Entity of the Inga Awai Population ATUN WASI IUIAI (AWAI), and co-founder of the AWAI Indigenous University.

Event Programme

1.00 – 3.50 pm: Film screening

Péter Bergmann, Terence McKenna’s True Hallucinations – 2h 48’

You can also watch the film here at home ahead of the panel conversation

1.00 – 3.50 pm: Film screenings, on loop

Andrea Khora, Bolus – 4’31”

Patricia Domínguez, Matrix Vegetal – 21’

Rebeca Romero, Voyager – 5’45”

Suzanne Treister, Technoshamanic Systems – 3’26”

Ursula Biemann, Forest Mind – 31’

4.00 – 5.30pm: panel talk

Helen Knowles, artist and researcher

Catherine Bird, Clinical Trials Manager

Andrea Khora, artist

With contributions from Dr Hernando Chindoy Chindoy, former Inga Community Leader

Biography of the speakers

Helen Knowles (b.1975) is an artist and curator of the Birth Rites Collection. She has a BA Hons from Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University. A former British Council, Young Creative Entrepreneur, she has curated and commissioned work for internationally renowned projects, which include; Oxytocin in collaboration with Procreate Projects, seven site-specific installations across Guys Campus, 2019, BRC Bi-annual competition for New Work at Media CityUK, The Whitworth Art Gallery and Kings College in 2013/15/17, ‘Birth Rites’, Manchester Museum / Glasgow Science Centre, 2008, ‘Don’t Cross the line’, ‘Agitate’ and ‘Radio Halo’ 2000, a show of eleven site-specific installations at Jodrell Bank Science Centre and Arboretum. Knowles has secured grants from ACE, The Amateurs Trust, Awards for All and Millenium UnLtd, amongst others.

Book free tickets here!

Catherine Bird is the Senior Clinical Trials Manager at Psychoactive Trials Group, Centre for Affective Disorders, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). She works in psychedelic research as part of the psilocybin research group at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.

Andrea Khôra is an artist and researcher based in London. Her practice seeks to comprehend the malleability of reality on personal and societal scales. As a PhD researcher in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, her practice-led project New Sight: The Alchemy of Surveillance into Resistance in Near Future Worlds, looks at the history of surveillance, specifically focusing on the mining of occult knowledge systems by the CIA in the cold war as well as the correlation between the 1960s-1970s utopian countercultures and the rise of Surveillance Capitalism. Through the uncovering of systems and correlations, she is creating a speculative proposition for the future reclamation of personal and community agency through the creation of sculpture, writing, and performance.

7 Botanic Square
London, E14 0LG
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