The Occult Workout is a video project that explores the concept of altering consciousness without the use of external chemicals. The workout consists of two components; the first being physical exercise, which is known to relieve pain and even induce euphoria. The second component is mental exercise via the use of a dreamachine. Invented by artist Brion Gysin and mathematician Ian Sommerville in the 60s, the dreamachine is a stroboscopic device that emits light at 8 to 13 pulses-per-second, a rate that corresponds with the brain’s alpha waves. Witnessing this flicker behind closed eyelids quickly generates colorful hallucinations and can induce a hypnagogic state- essentially somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. Click here for instructions on how to build your own.
Origins of the Occult Workout
This project was conceived at a Rocky Horror rehearsal in 2014. Two of my friends suggested that we make a jazzercise video. So we met a couple of times, but failed to gain momentum. Meanwhile, I had been researching prehistoric art, hallucination and shamanism and decided to combine what I’d learned with the idea of making an “exercise video”. I drew up a screenplay centered around the dreamachine, which I’d first seen at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, KS almost a decade earlier. Also, thinking it relevant to the cause, I included Goozie, a trickster persona that I’d been developing over the previous two years. Then I held meetings, allocated tasks and watched as my incredibly creative Portland friends turned my ideas into something far better than I’d imagined. More than anything, The Occult Workout taught me the value of giving creative freedom to one’s collaborators and I am ever grateful to everyone involved.