Exhibit at Esoteric Book Conference
This project demonstrates some possibilities for computational magic and telematic and automatic telesmata, and is intended to provoke discussion about the expression, automation, and trivialization of magic through technology. The basic concepts underlying the technology are based largely on several of Peter J. Carroll’s ideas including:
- The probability of an event’s occurrence can be intentionally influenced through magic, and gnosis, link, subliminalization, and belief factor into such influence, which is called enchantment.1
- Gnosis, subliminalization, and belief may be effectively transferred to or otherwise replaced by an artifact for automating magical agency thus requiring only an adequate link.2
- The best magical link is a real-time line of sight to the target, which can be facilitated across occluded space by electronic vision.3
- The material basis (telesma) of a magical artifact can physically interact with electronic systems relating to the artifact’s magical interactions with ætheric systems.
- Color and sigil magic.
The project began with the Electronomicon and then grew into PsiBorg: Enchantment Amplification and Automation System, of which the Electronomicon became a component.
Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act—the way we perceive the world.
When these ratios change, men change.
—Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiorem, The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects
…where man’s word goes, and where his power of perception goes, to that point his control and in a sense his physical existence is extended. To see and give commands to the whole world is almost the same as being everywhere.
—Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society
…there is the possibility that we may progress towards making artifacts so remarkable that they utterly transcend our present ideas of what constitutes a ‘machine’, and of what a machine’s limitations must be.
—Ramsey Dukes, Words Made Flesh: Virtual Reality, Humanity, and the Cosmos
The Electronomicon is a book of seven printed-circuit-board (PCB) talismans representing seven magical servitors corresponding to the seven non-octarine colors of Chaos magic.4 The talismans’ electrical conductivity allows them to act as switches in electronic systems (either passing a current or not), and also allows for novel forms of ritually “charging” them.
The sigils were drawn by Dakota Crane, then etched and consecrated by myself at auspicious times. The names of the corresponding servitors were divined during a series of Ouranos Rites,5 and used to charge the talismans by transducing the intonations of the names to analogously variable voltages connected to the corresponding sigils. The servitors were evoked by Meta-Magick techniques6 that were combined with the process for charging the talismans.
The talismans are connected to PsiBorg using the red (+) and black (−) clips.
Accompanying the exhibit were limited-edition prints of Crane’s “sigil-machine” constructed from the Electronomicon sigils: “a fully-functioning psychotronic device made to facilitate interaction with the concept of robomancy.”
Roboticus Familiaris (Robotic Familiar)
The robot supplies telepresence to the magician who can see and hear through its “eye” and “ear”—like a witch looking through the eyes of her familiar animal or spirit. The owl skulls represent the powers of sight and hearing (the resin replicas were made by Ann Koi). The robot’s UV LED can light up otherwise invisible sigils and other occult markings. The arrow keys on the computer keyboard move the robot forward, backward, left, or right to acquire a view of the target.
The robotic familiar represents the possibility of acquiring a line-of-sight magical link by mobile electronic vision and telepresence robotics. Although the robot demonstrated here is tethered to a computer and controlled by a keyboard, systems for wireless control and autonomous locomotion are well known and available.
Oculus Electricus (Electric Eye)
Physical contact or line of sight to the target provides the best possible form of magical link as it minimises the imaginary temporal separation and it also provides the opportunity to visualise the target in real time. Some magicians refuse to work with anything else. […] Real time links across occluded space generally require the use of visualisation or telesmata although an additional real-time connection via an electronic communication network often helps.
—Peter J. Carroll, The Octavo (emphasis added)
The Oculus Electricus is a digital video camera mounted on the robot, which represents a servitor’s-eye-view of the magician’s target, extending her vision through occluded space and augmenting it with colors and sigils of magic. The color scheme automatically changes to correspond to the selected Modus Magici (see below)—i.e., the device (or the magician through the device) “sees red” in war magic mode, orange in thought magic mode, blue in wealth magic mode, &c.
For the exhibit, I placed Roboticus Familiaris + Oculus Electricus in a half-covered box with a doll having a fluorescent green head. PsiBorg is programmed to “recognize” the doll’s head while in AutoMage mode (see below), thereby simulating facial recognition.
The video signal could be streamed wirelessly or over the Internet, establishing a telematic link between the magician and her target in addition to a sympathetic (magic) one.
PseudoHUD is a visual interface to the PsiBorg components, which feigns a heads-up display.
Based on Carroll’s equations of magic,7 this component calculates (m)agic and magically modified probability (pm) from the factors (g)nosis, (l)ink, (s)ubliminalization, (b)elief, and (natural) (p)robability. The values can be adjusted by using the mouse to move the slider controls. In AutoMage mode, g, l, s, and b are automatically set. Two bar graphs show pm+ and pm− within the Oculus Electricus viewer; they respectively represent magical influence in favor of a desired event or opposed to an undesired one. As m increases, pm+ increases and pm− decreases.
The magician can generate an animated, three-dimensional sigil layered over the video image from the Oculus Electricus by selecting up to sixteen alphabetical characters from the keyboard. Each Modus Magici has a unique array for generating sigils appropriate to it, formed from the name of the associated talisman’s servitor.
Modus Magici (Magical Mode)
PsiBorg has seven magical modes corresponding to the seven talismans of the Electronomicon. The magician can switch between them by pressing the number keys on the keyboard: 1=Black/Death/Saturnine; 2=Blue/Wealth/Jovial; 3=Red/War/Martian; 4=Yellow/Ego/Solar; 5=Green/Love/Venusian; 6=Orange/Thought/Mercurial; 7=Purple/Sex/Lunar. In addition to a unique color scheme, each mode has its own sigil-generating array based on the name of the servitor associated with the talisman corresponding to the mode.
The magicikian will create a reusable multi-task servitor by such conjurations, for which the first equation’s factors take an optimum unitary value. Thus only the problem of a magickal link awaits solution in any particular spell of enchantment or divination at which the magickian directs the eidolon.
—Peter J. Carroll, Psybermagick
When AutoMage is activated by pressing the F1 key on the keyboard, MagiCalc variables g, s, and b are automatically set to 1 (100%) when an Electronomicon talisman is electrically connected to PsiBorg, and l is set to 1 (100%) when a target is acquired by the Oculus Electricus (i.e., the green head of the doll is within the camera’s view). This behavior represents the automatic efficacy of a servitor or talisman.
- Peter J. Carroll, Liber Kaos (Boston: Weiser Books, 1992) 40–51. The Octavo (Oxford: Mandrake, 2011) 108–112, 116–121.
- Psybermagick (London: BM Sorcery, 1995) 24–25.
- The Octavo (Oxford: Mandrake, 2011) 105–106.
- Peter J. Carroll, Liber Kaos (Boston: Weiser, 1992) 107–141.
- Peter J. Carroll, The Ouranos Rite (Tempe: New Falcon, 2003).
- Philip H. Farber, Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem (San Francisco: Weiser, 2008).
- Liber Kaos and The Octavo.