Blasts from the Past: Forbidden Pleasures

Oooooh, do you remember those joyous days of the past, where you could go to paradise regularly and have the time of your life (guaranteed) with 70.000 other people?

Did we APPRECIATE THIS enough at the time? OH YES WE DID!
Do you remember those days where any kind of plastic cover attached to your head was FUN HAPPINESS plastic?
And when face masks were made out of fantasy animals and glitter?
And hugging was normal.
Hugging was everywhere.
And being allowed to enjoy big crowds of people was normal.
And dj’ing was normal.
Dj’s were everywhere.
(This is TrailerPark 2010).
And sitting close to your friends was normal.
Sitting close to your friends was in fact EXTREMELY normal.
Ooooooh, do you remember those days where you could just invite your friends over for a garden party?
Back then when it was super duper normal to just show up at the garden party and press your face up against other faces as many times as you wanted – to say hello or to show your enthusiasm or to whisper some interesting secrets or to take pictures or just because you felt like it.
Aaaah, those garden parties. Just put up some deco and let the vibe build up and chill out in the grass.
And get cosy by the pool.
And not worry about the amount of people showing up.
And light a fire when the sky turned dark blue.
And then dance some more, into the night.
Aaaaaaah, the good old days of the packed dance floors. So many of them. So packed.
Of course, we made sure to enjoy them fully, back then! Even though we didn’t know they would disappear.
Because they were so awesome. Oh, the happiness and the joy.
So many variations.
Daytime dancefloors. (Turmbühne, 2008).
Daytime dance floors, hot and enthusiastic version. (This is S.U.N, Hungary). Good times! This is why I prefer jungle and psytrance. PROPER MOVEMENT.
More daytime dance floors. Boom, 2012.
And night time dance floors. (This is a great ‘Spot a Junglist’ / ‘Spot a Psytrancer’ pic. Have fun.)

Crazy stuff happened back then, you wouldn’t believe… Sometimes people drank from the same bottle.

And laughed about it!
And people even touched each others’ hands all the time. Just like that. The mayhem.
Or each others’ elbows. Just like that.
Check out all the interesting meeting of hands in this fun little video of Classic DJ Problems at TrailerPark 2010.
Sometimes people used their hands just for fun.
All kinds of weird fun.
And people stuck their tongues out of their mouths.
Whenever they felt like it. Just living on the edge.

Aaaaaah, the good ol’ days where people just pressed their faces against each others faces.

So much face squeezing.
Endless amounts of face squeezing.
Happy, sweaty faces.
All the time.
Everywhere.
So many face squeeze variations.
Sometimes even in groups.
Sometimes in big groups. Open mouths and everything.
Ooooooh, the group hug expertise of the ravers! Look at the complexity and the spontaneity, COMBINED.
Only Vitus is worried about this group hug. (This is Docken, 2007).
JKamata also has a sudden weird feeling about all this facial contact. Where does this weird feeling come from? From the FUTURE? This is June, 2009.
Okay, worries in the dance are over. Super dangerous group hugging here!
Look at the lovely people not giving a toss. RAW, august 2009.
Aaaaaah, the group squeeeeezes. Post-dj-Hype in 2009 in dangerous Sweden.
Casual head squeezing, surrounded by thousands of people. Waiting for Roger Waters, 2006.
LOL. A classic overdoing-the-face-squeezing pic from 2005. But it’s so niiiiiiiice!

And do you remember all the kissing? So many raver kisses. Because that was just a normal thing to do.

Today, I saw a big, ugly sign on Istedgade saying “God jul og god afstand”. Read that again. That is offensively annoying. I need three raver kisses to recover from such an assault on my sensibilities.

Fusion, 2007.
Stella Polaris, the year of the hail storm.
Turmbühne, 2007.

Recently, Sune saw this horror of a sign (see below) in Copenhagen and took a photo, just to remember Dystopia.

We need three raver group hugs to recover from this.

Here is Sune, recovering.
Complex electric boogie group hugging. Learn from the masters.
Complicated horizontal group hugging.

So…. how do we squeeze something good out of 2020 – the most raver-hostile environment ever?

Well, here’s an absolute certainty: The parties are going to be EXCELLENT when they come back! Great music is made in dark times, and once we are allowed back on the dance floors, it will be like reuniting with the cosmos and a thousand friends and your own innermost self all at the same time.

We will all look and feel like this:

Nufie, the spirit animal of the raver of 2021, reunited with the vibes and the bass.
And like this. Nico, the spirit animal of the dj, back at work.
And like this.
And like this. (CRS is having himself a beautiful zen moment).
We will be dancing into the sunset and through the night and into the morning and hugging everyone, including people we don’t necessarily know (yet). So basically, we will be doing exactly what we used to do.
(This is Ozora, 2015, by the way. An incredibly beautiful festival. Just whauw.).

And just to put things into perspective, this is what Tim Driver said about his early early days of raving – back when proper techno parties were few and far between:

“Back then there weren’t that many parties to choose from. A month could easily pass between one techno party and the next. So when a techno rave was on, everyone showed up. It didn’t matter if it was techno or house or jungle or goa trance or whatever it was. It was just ”Let’s go!” no matter what.”

Words to remember in 2020….. AND you can use them as a fun thought experiment or meditation practice or whatever you need to lighten up these last (and dark) december days of this anti-raver year. Imagine that first proper rave some time in the future… where everyone shows up! 🙂

Meanwhile, here is youngster babyface Tim on his way to Mayday.

Alright, I have run out of time and stamina. I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Forbidden Pleasures of the past. And I hope you are looking forward to indulging in them again.

If you want to celebrate my birthday some more, digitally… please enjoy my Blasts from the Past: Birthday Bash Edition.

And I think this would be a perfect time for you to read a few pages from my diary about my early years of raving. This is one of my personal favourite JUngLEkalender posts: The Jungle Diaries: Longing for the Tribe

Need more Forbidden Pleasures? I recommend Jungle Feelings. The Group Hug Special.
And the Jungle Feelings: The Love and Kisses Special
Or one of my favourite selections: Jungle Feelings: Magic on the Dancefloor

Need some proper psychedelic vibes? Join me for a trip to Ozora!

Did you like the photo of Tim Driver, Babyface Version? Read about Tim Driver’s first rave experiences here.
And enjoy an entire selection of babyfaces in the Babyface Special.

If you missed out on day 1 of this 2020 edition of JUngLEkalenderen, jump right in: Blasts from the Past: Back When Masks Were Fun

Give us our world back.

How to be a Raver: Preparing for the Apocalypse

All these corona restrictions and lockdowns and the never-ending labyrinth of rules-and-regulations are not fun for anyone. But they are PARTICULARLY NOT FUN AT ALL for junglist and ravers!

Because this is what we like to do:

Squeezing onto a boat and feeling free and happy and enjoying the sunrise on Pirate Party Pack mornings.

And this:

Just a normal, excellent night out back in the Days of Freedom. Open sky, great music, dancing, dj’s spinning proper vinyl, summer vibes, hugging, hands in the air, soap bubbles.

And this:

This is Fusion 2013. Oh happy days.

And this:

Traffic closed down for the day? Out with the speakers! Let’s gather up and have some fun.

And this:

Just dancing and being nice and enjoying nature and the early morning hours.

“Restrictions” are the opposite of raving.
Here is a photo of the spirit animal of all ravers during these restricted times, looking at what we have lost:

This is also a photo of Palle Flinkenstein at Fusion, waiting for the drum’n’bass tent to open.

We also know that this entire corona thing would be a LOT more fun if ravers were in charge (of the mask thing, for instance). Because ravers are just a thousand times better at it.

Proof that ravers are better at the mask thing.
More proof.
And more proof.
And more proof. Ravers can make masks out of ANYTHING in NO TIME if they need to.
Here’s Tom Collins making a mask out of nothing in TWO SECONDS.
Here’s Swingsen, making a mask out of a plastic bag for Tim Driver.
And more proof. This is Chriszka the Time Traveller, having tons of fun inside the mask, killing invisible enemies.

Speaking of enemies, we also know that ravers have been preparing for the apocalypse for decades. Junglists have been expecting dark future time lines pretty much always, twentyforseventhreesixfive.

If you need proof, check out my junglistic Pandemic Playlist. The track titles reveal the truth: “Sick Note”. “No Cure”. “Half-Truth”. “Happy New Fear”. “Bacteria”. “Gas Mask”. “Lost Civilization”. “Manipulated Living”. “Panic Attack”. “New World Order”. “Breathe”. “Mindgames”. “Toxin”. “Isolation”.
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/61noNbbirOXjhQIMfgqrQg?si=1yievHOcQeS6Hwy2RsEObg

Psytrancers have also been preparing for the apocalypse since forever. By building awesome, self-sufficient, ecological party utopias far away from rules and regulations (and cities), out in nature, dancing under the sun and the stars 22 hours a day.

My kind of paradise. This is one afternoon at Ozora, 2015.

But unfortunately, even though ravers would be super good at running the world, they have been forced to shut down and abandon all creativity and awesomeness for nine months and counting.

Are you ready for the dark plot twist?

It seems that Justitsministeriets Propagandaafdeling thought that ravers were the problem as much as eighty years ago – way back in 1940.

Clearly someone is having a party behind that window.
Here are a bunch of ravers satirically predicting the 2020 future of mask wearing and finger pointing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, at Henry’s Dream seven years ago. Or maybe they are pretending to be The Justitsministeriet Poster of 1940. Who knows. I own a time machine and get confused.

Are you ready for some more time machine confusion?

Coming up is photographic proof that maybe All Our Troubles originates from the mainstream house party. Obviously a place to avoid at all cost, if you can. Just check out the corona style deco at the Sensation White Party back in 2008. That party was quite a scary experience. Some of the 27.000 people attending had even paid 40.000 dkk for a ‘platinum table’. I will call this ‘unhealthy vibes’ and leave it at that.

Same event. Yup, everyone is wearing hospital clothes and that’s a face mask anno 2020 popping up to the right. I have said it many times and I will say it again: Stay away from mainstream house parties. And mainstream techno parties. And mainstream anything.

If you want to read what I felt about that event back in 2008, the link is at the end of your scroll, after all the pics.

Okay, let’s go all in on the time machine business and let the plot thicken even more.
This is Chriszka the Time Traveller, sensing that something is wrong with the food markets in China in 2004.
And here is more proof that proper ravers predict the future. Here’s a raver, dressed up for danger 2020-style – face mask and plastic – in 2006.
Light technology from the future! But in the past! Here’s Chriszka the Time Traveller opening a high tech door with no hands, 2020 style, in Shanghai 16 years ago.
Here’s Svingsen, testing out a full glass bowl face cover several decades ago (and not approving).
Here’s the Strøm Festival, kicking of the 2013 edition with a magical one hour concert at Tietgen-kollegiet
– with every single musician isolated in their own room. If it HAS to be done, do it like this!
Here’s Chriszka the Time Traveller predicting the 2020 future by choosing to go out with no head at all.
No breath and no nose = no masks needed!
Here’s proof that ravers did fun things with gloves way back in 1998. Private party style!

Seriously, ravers should be in charge of everything.

They can party ABSOLUTELY ANYWHERE if they have to. Not allowed to be inside buildings anymore? No problem. Give us a two square meters of asphalt and we will squeeze the party right in.
Or give us a container. Ravers can turn anything into something nice. This is RAW, 2008.
Ravers are better at wearing full body covers. (This is Fusion, 2008).
Ravers are better at wearing mosquito nets for full face protection and still having fun at parties.
Ravers are better at decorating the world. Aren’t you tired of the boring Hold Afstand-stickers on the floors? Let’s add some color and glow-in-the-dark vibes if we have to! This is Lucy Love, ready for the apocalypse in her junglistic camouflage gear.
Ravers are better at dressing up in interesting ‘corona’ clothes.
Ravers are better at not traveling anywhere but just pretending to and still having fun. (This is Nadsat, btw).
Ravers are better at bringing their own doctors to the parties.
Ravers are better at ‘social distancing’. (LOL). Even on the dance floors. Just wear stilts! This is Boom, 2012.
Ravers are better at everything.
Give us back our world. Plz.
(This is Turmbühne, 2008).

For more reasons why ravers should be in charge of everything, I highly recommend that you read The Seven Best Things About Being A Raver.

For even more raver mask creativity, catch up on yesterday’s post right here: Blasts from the Past: Back When Masks Were Fun.

Want more wonderful moments from the past? Check out Blasts from the Past: The Pirate Party Pack.

Can’t get enough of junglists? Meet some excellent ones (and enjoy the old pics) in The Secret Junglists.

Were you at the Strøm concert with Mike Sheridan and Det Danske Ungdomsensemble in 2013? Travel back by reading my review right here. (I was VERY happy).

If you want to read my article on the Sensation White phenomenon in 2008, here’s my article, reporting from the front line: Finanskrisen skal festes væk.

See you tomorrow where things get WIIIIIIIIIIIIILD.

Blasts from the Past: Back When Masks Were Fun!

Do you need some relief from many months of non-stop not partying? Time to travel back to better times, when hugs were plentiful and masks were fun, colorful and completely voluntary.

So this is what it looked like, back in those days ages ago when putting on a mask meant something completely different than in 2020: That you were planning to have a lot of fun!
Sometimes you would wear a mask just to match your birthday cake, color coordination style. Such surplus in the old days!
Visionary Icelandic designer introduces some proper face masks at the Citadel 4wardshow in Vega – 2005.
Proper futuristic vibes.
We DID have the feeling of looking into the future at the 4WARD show! Definitely! That was the entire point. But I didn’t imagine that it was 15 years.
Obviously, ravers have always been good at wearing masks for fun (and time-traveling).
This could be from a rave in 1993. It could also be a Coma time capsule from 2011.
I shall not reveal the truth.
A mask can be many things. The possibilities are endless. Just follow that inner vision, however weird or complicated it seems, and express yourself. We are multi-dimensional beings. Being boring is the only weird choice.
This is at Henry’s Dream, 2013.
OR you could go for the masculine basic just-cover-the-mouth-and-nose look.
This is Lewis, predicting the future at Ohoi’s 2-year birthday bash.
Back in the old days, 14 years ago, some people liked their face masks to be glittery and fun.
With eye-lashes and feathers for extra keep-your-distance oomph.
Some people went for the minimalist rubber mask/superhero look. Nico Defrost, Warehouse9, 2009.
Back then, masks were shaped so that you could eat and drink while wearing them.
Hugging people was also quite a common thing back then.
Some masks were even SWITCHED and worn by several different people in one night! The mayhem!
Wearing a mask meant that people could approach you and get up close and personal. How things change.
Some people just painted the mask straight on to their face.
Some people painted the masks straight onto their face and then added a little extra glitter and layers of tull, just for fun.
Some people only liked to wear a very temporary, hand-held mask.
…while other people went for the full-body mask. With a twist.
The Jungle Monster chose to wear a temporary, hand-held mask made out of adamantium that can be re-used as frisbee weapons in case the evening turned into some hardcore ninja style challenge later on.
Some people choose to cover their entire bodies. A very safe and fun option. This is Fusion, The Trance Floor, 2013.
Zombies are allowed to wear only half a face mask. When you think about it, this is great for everyone’s safety. Imagine if all zombies were wearing full face masks. How would you know they were zombies? You wouldn’t – until it was too late.
This could easily be a zombie, and no one would know. Full face mask on and ready for MAYHEM on the dance floor. Danger, danger!
For a relaxed moment of No Mask, this style looks soooooooo much better than the below-the-chin 2020 look.
If you HAVE to take off your medical face mask in an I-will-be-wearing-this-soon-again-kind-of-way, do it like this:
Casually worn around the neck, in style.
Young woman does not wear her mask properly and stares death straight in the face.
We COULD brighten 2020 up a bit if we got more creative with the masks, though.
Would be tons of more fun if masks looked like this!
This is Svingsen showing off her big eyes in a classy jester costume.
She is off to the Coma party, obviously.
And so are these two. Obviously, these masks would be a GREAT choice for 2020.


Do you want more Blasts from the Past? We highly recommend Blasts from the Past: Roskilde 2008 if you miss those festival vibes…. and Blasts from the Past: Ohoi! turns 6 or maybe Blasts from the Past: The Raw After After Party if you just miss hanging out with people you like.

Want to see lots of faces with NO masks? Check out the wild selection of very young-looking features in Blasts from the Past: The Babyface Special.

Enjoy your time travels and photos of people having fun in the past. Good thing we have a time machine, people!

PS: Surprise ending: In the true spirit of JUnGLEkalenderen, The Ultra Special One Off Edition will expand into a 3…2…1-countdown, ending on my birthday, probably. (It’s 2020, prepare for anything). So see you tomorrow, people.

Other recommended posts:
This is one of my personal favourite JUngLEkalender posts, a few pages from my diary about my early years of raving.: The Jungle Diaries: Longing for the Tribe

And The DIY Test: Is Your Child a Junglist?

Shadow Work: The perfect souvenir for the year 2020

Shadow Work – my corona lockdown art piece – is now available in my webshop! (Right here).

50 x 70 cm, colored pencil and ink on paper + collage element. High quality art print (mat-coated giclée). Signed and numbered. 


This piece took me two and a half months to complete – and it was all made during corona lockdown. 

The idea for Shadow Work – including the title – was completely clear in my head before I started drawing:

There was this woman in the foreground, completely absorbed in the interesting puzzle in front of her. And then I wanted to draw the complexity behind that manageable problem. How a thousand invisible and unconscious connections rise up and form a complex landscape behind the patterns and puzzles in front of us.

Appropriately, I started drawing the piece in March 2020. Perfect timing for shadow work for the entire planet! 

And as the corona lockdown was enforced and the closure of the country gave us all ample opportunity to explore how the depths of our own psyche react under pressure and during unusual circumstances, this shadow work idea just became more and more relevant by the hour. Which, of course, made the drawing process even more fun. 

It became pretty clear to me that when people are forced to stay at home by themselves, and are forced to get their information on the goings-on in the world through their screens and their internet connections rather than through their own personal experience, well, then what goes on in their heads is primarily a dance orchestrated by their own repressed shadows and their own unconscious automatic reactions. Not reality. 

I wish more people would take the time to do some inner work instead of constantly REACTING and getting carried away by stuff on social media. Inner work is slow and laborious and time-consuming, but it is not just ‘worth it’, it is the only way.

My corona lockdown drawing: Shadow Work

shadow work 1 hour before completion

Today is June 12th. Three months have passed (almost to the date) since the closing down of the country on March 11th.

Tomorrow, my favourite yoga studio reopens. JOY! So this is the perfect time for me to finish this drawing – which will be done in an hour!

My corona lockdown artwork.

The title is SHADOW WORK. I knew exactly what I wanted to do from the moment I started the drawing in March. I also knew what the title should be.

And I think “Shadow Work” turned out to be the perfect description of what has been going on for the past tree months.

Slowmotion Explosion: A progress video of my newest painting

40 hours of work in one minute!

I have made a stop motion video of my work on my newest acrylic painting, Slowmotion Explosion. (Acrylic on canvas, 60×60 cm): https://videopress.com/v/uJVcCXfj

Slowmotionexplosion_wall

What you see in the video below is the entire process from the empty canvas and the very first pencil sketchings to the finished painting.

The painting is inspired by the patterns and visions formed inside my head during a session with closed eyes in front of the incredible cyberdelic light machine, the Lucia No3.

My first meeting with the light machine was at the Breaking Convention conference at Greenwich University (here’s my article on the conference). Some months later, I was invited to meet up once again with the inventors of the light machine to test out some new functionalities (THANK YOU).

One and a half month after that, on Dec 31st, the painting was done.

Below: The progress video (press play). Soundtrack: Threesixty by Pan-Pot.

 

 

Which one of my hand-painted yoga mats is perfect for you?

3 måtter 3

Finally a group photo! – of my three hand-painted yoga mats.

They are all available in my shop at chriszka.myshopify.com. Feel free to reach out with any questions – here, or on christina@majcher.dk. Residents of Copenhagen? Place your orders by email.

Which one is for you? Here are some keywords:

To the right: Endless Summer 🔥
Fire, enthusiasm, new ideas, peak performance. For the easily distracted, the ones who get 17 new ideas while still in yoga class and need reminders on focus, balance and patience. It took me 75 hours to do the drawing, so the pattern itself serves as a reminder (and it works!). This is the mat I currently use. More info on Endless Summer.

In the middle: Backgammon for Aliens ⚡️🔹
This was the first one. Air, space, aliens, brainwaves! 
For those who want to enter the cosmic machinery and make their moves on the game board behind the visible world. For the playful lovers of technology. For those who want to turn their yoga practice into a party game: Twister! For those who love buttons, keyboards and deep thoughts but need a break from the screens. This is the one I have done the biggest amount of headstands on. More info on Backgammon for Aliens.

To the left: Island of the Gods. 🌊
The newest one! For those, who want to turn their yoga mat into a cosmic surfboard of light and balance. For those who rediscover their equilibrium in the waves of both sound and water. For the musicians, the sound healers and those of us who needs a temple, a totem pole or a trip to the tropics. For reestablishing the connection to the earth. And for the travellers: This is the lightweight mat, 2 mm thinner than the other two. More info on Island of the Gods.

3 måtter 1

 

My third hand-painted yoga mat is now available in the shop!

My new hand-painted yoga mat is ready! Perfect for the darkest time of the year where some of us NEED to turn our yoga mats into cosmic surf boards of light and balance.


This is my third hand-painted yoga mat – transformed from my newest acrylic painting, Island of the Gods.

The painting is inspired by Bali and all the fractal-like patterns on the island: rice fields, temples, portals, sound-healing pyramids, surfboards, waves and electric sunsets. And, of course, yoga everywhere.

Take a closer look at the mat at chriszka.myshopify.com – and order your own.

Cyberdelics: The Trippy Machines

lucia_no3

My article on Breaking Convention is out – the largest conference on psychedelic research in Europe, taking place at Greenwich University in London.

There was so much going on during the three days, and I could have written ten articles about it.

My focus in this one, which was published in this week’s edition of Weekendavisen (Danish national newspaper) is on the cyberdelics at the conference, in particular The Lucia no. 3 (the hypnagogic light machine) and the Isness installation (a virtual reality experience for four people made by computational physicists (+ team) at Bristol University.

The article is here (paywall): The digital trip machines.

lucia no 3 hypnagogic light machine 2

A translated version (not prettily translated, yet, but effectively!):

The digital trip machines
It is afternoon in a semi-dark room at Greenwich University in London, and I’ve just tried the wildest machine I’ve ever experienced. Since I put on a virtual reality headset for the first time in 2013, I have grown used to sensory-enhancing experiences provided by machines. I know that a VR headset can transport me into an entirely new reality in an instant. I’ve grown accustomed to having my expectations exceeded – year after year, as the technology improves.

But this experience beats them all.

The machine itself doesn’t look high tech in any way. There are no wires, no gadgets on the body and no headsets to wear. I just have to sit in a chair in front of a lamp connected to a computer. I close my eyes and I know that soon, bright, flashing lights aimed at my face will penetrate through my closed eyelids. That is all.

But the next thing that happens is so wonderful and surprising that I have to perform somersaults with my language capabilities to describe it.

I’m sitting in front of the lamp because I’m attending the bi-annual Breaking Convention: Europe’s largest conference on psychedelic research. For three days there are academic lectures on the latest knowledge in the field on all floors of Greenwich University’s stately buildings; from anthropologists with expertise in the use of psychoactive plants by Mayan Indians to brain scientists focusing on MRI scans, microdosing and the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat mental disorders.

A large area on the ground floor of one building is, under the title The Cyberdelics Showcase, dedicated to installations where different kinds of technology mimic the psychedelic experience or transport us into altered states of consciousness in other ways.

In the morning hours on the first day of the conference I am standing in line, ready to be signed up for as many of the various VR installations as possible, including the meditation booster Healium, which measures my brain waves and sends visual feedback directly into the VR glasses on how relaxed and focused I actually am during my meditation, and the ambitious ‘Isness’ installation created at Bristol University, where four people are inside the virtual reality experience at the same time.

Wearing VR headsets and haptic gloves, me and three other conference attendees are transformed into silent, collaborative light beings who can juggle and manipulate the molecular structures between us. Computational physicists have created the experience to demonstrate how solid matter is nothing but concentrated energy. Novo Nordisk has expressed interest in the technology which they will be using for nano-design.

After hovering around like a light being with molecular manipulating superpowers for 40 minutes, I understandably think that I’ve reached the pinnacle of the conference, technologically speaking.

Still, I feel very excited as I sit alone the day after in front of the lamp in the dark room. Compared to the Isness installation, which filled a whole room with wires, HTC Vive headsets and motion sensors, the lamp in front of me really doesn’t look special; just like an advanced designer lamp (with a hint of a dentist vibe) connected to a computer. But it turns out to be a portal to the biggest experience of the year.

I close my eyes. The bright white light of the lamp starts to flash. And immediately, a wonderful fractal dance of miraculous colors unfolds in my head. I rush through tunnels of kaleidoscopic patterns. Sizzling networks in yellow and turquoise rise and disappear. Thousands of deep blue and black circles explode into a star-shaped pattern so beautiful that I can feel it in my stomach. One second later, I am sent through a new, neon-colored swath of interwoven shades. Peacock Green! Glowing orange! I’m in a cosmic roller coaster of light.

It is a very interesting sensation, seeing these complex and intertwined geometries with my eyes closed. There is no distance between the patterns and me. Mentally, I can try to place the passing colors on the inside of my eyelids. But that’s not where I see them. They are closer, inside my head, and wonderfully intense. The colors are so juicy that I feel I can drink them.

When the light stops flashing, I am immediately back “in the real world”, with a wonderful sensation in my body, as if I was a Tibetan monk who has meditated so deeply that I am ready to levitate. Calm, super focused and wonderfully comfortable.

The machine I’ve just tried is a ‘hypnagogic light machine’, also called ‘Lucia no. 03 ‘. It was created by two Austrian doctors, the psychiatrist Dr. Engelbert Winkler and the clinical neurologist Dr. Dirk Proeckl, who has brought the machine to Breaking Convention since 2011 and give a talk on their work the following afternoon in a crowded room in the neighboring building.

Originally, they built the machine to simulate a near-death experience. Winkler was very interested in the American psychology professor Kenneth Ring’s research into the positive effects that people who have been through a near-death experience experience. “It is extremely interesting that an intense experience, which lasts only a few minutes, can have lasting positive effects, similar to many years of intense psychotherapy,” says Winkler.

He began using hypnosis to send his patients (with anxiety disorders, for example) into a similar state. And he quickly discovered that when he used a bright light to help them stay in the trance state, the treatment was much more effective. Next, Proeckl suggested that they combine the bright light of the lamp with strobe effects to simulate a tunnel experience. This is how the first prototype of the lamp was made, partly consisting of remodeled components from the coffee machine in their office.

When they first sat down in front of the machine, they were quite amazed by the unexpected visual effects.

Lot of people who have sat down in front of the hypnagogic lamp compare the patterns emerging inside their heads to the visual delights of their experiences with DMT: the psychedelic ingredient which is found in ayahuasca (the highly potent psychedelic brew of the Amazonas) and, according to some theories, also produced in our brains and released when we dream and when we die.

When the effect of the light machine was examined by researchers at Sussex University using EEG measurements, they found similarities between the effect of the stroboscope stimulation and the effect of psilocybin: the active substance in psychedelic fungi that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Records of the brain’s electrical activity during light stimulation showed that the lights sent the brain into relaxed, harmonious states similar to those that can be achieved through prolonged, deep meditation. And the after effects reported are the same: improvements in mood, creativity, sleep quality and increased ability to focus.

“I consider Lucia no. 3 as one of the first true cyberdelic machines: a technology that can induce altered states of consciousness but without the ingestion of psychoactive substances, ” says Carl H. Smith – curator of the Cyberdelics Showcase section of the conference and one of the founders of The Cyberdelic Society.

“We are in the midst of a great, psychedelic renaissance, but even though psychedelic drugs are being researched at universities all over the world, it is still a niche. With The Cyberdelic Society, we want to open up the field to even more people; including those who will not take psychedelics themselves because of the fear of loss of control, bad trips and the fact that in most countries taking psychedelics is not legal. The great thing about technology is that you can just take it off again”, says Smith.

In his daily work as head of the Learning Technology Research Center at Ravensbourne University, he focuses on improving poorly designed technologies and fixing the problems caused by them.

A good example of such a technology is our cell phones, which are making us all near-sighted because we no longer train our eye muscles appropriately, but constantly stare at a screen just an arm’s length away from our face. In this case, the virtual reality technology offers a good counterweight because VR experiences activate our peripheral vision, which is really healthy for our eyes. There are plenty of technologies designed to distract and zombify us, impairing our well-being. But instead of writing off all the new technologes as unhealthy, we need to find ways to use the technologies in ways that increase our focus and enhance our ability to be in the world, says Smith.

The cyberdelic technologies are certainly popular at the conference. Both the Isness installation and the Lucia no. 3 have been fully booked from morning to evening during the entire Breaking Convention. And as I prepare to leave the university on the last day of the conference to catch my plane home, people are still queuing in front of the room with the light machine.

Dark waters and light: Music on the edge

midnatssvømning 1

There is something both exciting and ominous about the combination of techno and water….

This Friday I was midnight swimming in Frederiksberg Svømmehal during the Strøm Festival while SØS Gunver Ryberg was playing and laser geometries from Laserfabrikken filled the room with the most magnificent light patterns.

My article is out. You can google translate it here (paywall): Musik på kanten

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