'All That Is Solid: speculative, quantum and cognitive aesthetics of telepathy and telekinesis' - forthcoming article in Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) by Jacquelene Drinkall

Dr Jacquelene Drinkall



Art, Telepathy, Speculative Materialism, Cognitive Capitalism, Quantum Telekinesis




Telepathy is emerging as a significant paradigm of artistic practice at the art/science interface, with telepathy operating in transferences of media, teletechnologies and techlepathies as well as in social and psychological aspects of collaboration and interaction. Artists Gianni Motti and Marina Abramoviç, design researcher Usman Haque, work with telepathic and telekinetic potentials that arise at this intersection of art and science, as does and artist, theorist and cognitive scientist Warren Neidich. The paper will explore telepathy of Motti, Abramoviç and Haque through their artistic work with brain synchronicity and EEG interaction, telemetrics, crowd empathy, media clouds, electromagnetism and quantum physics. Their work is further understood through the prism of current philosophical theories, especially speculative aesthetics that engage the telepathy and telekinesis of quantum physics, as well as Marxist ‘Operaist’ or ‘workerist’ theories of immaterial labour and cognitive capitalism that engage with action at a distance of social theory. Further, speculative and cognitive materialisms are shown to intersect, perhaps paradoxically, through engagement with aesthetics of telepathic and telekinetic immateriality. The aesthetics of this art and theory converges at the telepathy of quantum neurodynamics, which is aligned with and yet displaces cognitive intuition in Immanuel Kant’s transcendental aesthetics.


Heading: Introduction


The paper explores the work of Marina Abramoviç, Usman Haque and Gianni Motti and artistic work with telemetric sensors, telecommunications, telepathy and telekinesis at the art/science interface. They each work with mass participation, using a range of telemedias, and with analogies to quantum particle intra-action and action at a distance. The aesthetics of these artists are set in dialogue with analogous poetics and politics of telepathy and action at a distance found in critical philosophies of Speculative and Cognitive Materialisms and immaterial labour.


Heading: Marina Abramoviç


Abramoviç could be interpreted as naming her exhibition Seven Easy Pieces in a spirit of collaborative competition with quantum physicist Richard Feynman’s popular book Six Easy Pieces. Abramoviç’s artistic interest in telepathy and telekinesis is accompanied by strong interest in many disciplines including science. Abramoviç idolises Nikola Tesla and is fascinated by his observation of the frequencies of everything. She has discussed thought consciousness, telepathy and quantum physics with Antonio Damasio, [1] and she has expressed the wish to collaborate with scientists to explore vibratory molecular dematerialisation, teleportation and telekinetics in a publication exploring art, science, spirituality and economics. [2] Quantum physicists have been harnessing and developing quantum teleportation and telekinesis, albeit only of the smallest atomic particles, for many years now and could collaborate on speculative art science collaborations of this kind, as suggested by Abramoviç.


Abramoviç has also developed an artwork exploring brain synchrony called Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze using an Emotiv neuroheadset in collaboration with neuroscientist Suzanne Dikker and interactive media artist Matthias Oostrik. Thanks to her global community of Kickstarter collaborators, she now has a related interactive brain device that is telemetric and kinetic installed in the science chamber of her new Marina Abramoviç Institute (MAI). This interactive device is called a Compatability Racer and was also developed by Dikker and Oostrick, along with a team of others.


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Caption: Figure 1 - Caption: Measuring the Magic of Mutual GazeMarina AbramoviçSuzanne DikkerMatthias Oostrik, and participants of the Watermill Art & Science: Insights into Consciousness Workshop, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, 2011. Photo by Maxim Lubimov, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. © Marina Abramoviç. Used with permission.


Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze facilitates a collaboration that brings together Abramoviç’s interest in telepathy and meditative endurance performance, and Dikker’s research into cognitive processes of prediction, human connectedness and the ability to effectively communicate and use language. [3] Dikker approached Abramoviç for art/science interactive neuro collaboration performances after becoming aware of Abramoviç’s work with brain synchronicity in The Artist is Present - a 736 hour and 30 minute static, silent piece undertaken with members of the public seated opposite Abramoviç, one at a time. Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze restages The Artist is Present (and her earlier work Nightsea Crossing with Ulay) and allows two participants to engage in mutual gaze for 30 minutes with real time recording and visualization of their EEG signals, with lightening animation visualizing moments “when the participants brains oscillated in synchrony.” [4]


Compatability Racer facilitates an instruction-based telematic telekinesis competition. This competition is linked to Abramoviç’s own use of crowdfunding as a mass-participation collaboration for MAI. The Emotiv brand neuroheadset used by Abramoviç also gained crowdfunding development support and advertises telekinetic promises. Similarly, two Kickstarter funded computer game campaigns have promised telekinesis through neuroheadset interaction – Son of Nor and another game that invites one to throw trucks with one’s brain. Compatability Racer has instructions for its use, called Come Pat a Bull (CPAB) that make clear that this interactive work operates as a competitive game: “Your CPAB score is a measure of distance travelled over time. High scores will be recorded and rewarded.” [5] The telekinesis competition of CPAB is facilitated by this twin seated, wheeled device called a ‘compatability racer’. Compatability Racer is a vehicle for racing and accelerating the sense of telepathic connection and competition, and through the CPAB instructions it is also referred to as a ‘bull’, evoking slot machine mechanical bulls and rodeo competition, perhaps even the stockmarket bull representing the optimistic upward driving animal spirits. Although Abramoviç is not part of the project team for Compatability Racer, she was closely involved with it and a ride on the Compatability Racer is offered as a reward in Abramoviç’s Kickstarter campaign. An article promoting Compatability Racer, CPAB and Abramoviç’s Kickstarter campaign asks readers to donate money to the MAI that will house the Compatibility Racer when the institute is opened. [6] “COME PAT A BULL is a competitive, interactive brain-robotics installation and works with synchronized brain activity between people and what it means scientifically to be ‘on the same wavelength’?” [7] The collaborative gaming of interactive consumer neuroscience technology of the Emotiv headset combined with Kickstarter updates Karl Marx’s nineteenth century caricature of commodity fetishism. Marx’s commodity takes the form of a grotesque telekinetic and spiritualistic table-tapping market table. Further parapsychologies and psychopathologies of capitalism are explored further in this paper’s section on ‘Telepathologies of Cognitive Capitalism’. The mass-participation performance of Abramoviç’s MAI Kickstarter event shares, disperses and dilutes the extremely intense collaborative telepathy she first developed in her dyadic relationship with Ulay. [8] Abramoviç and other artists who are strong collaborators acknowledge telepathy as a central affect generated by collaboration. Gilbert and George have achieved the longest dyadic collaboration of contemporary artists, yet they have denied that they collaborate. Instead, they declare that what they do together is in fact move towards a telepathic cloud. [9]


Abramoviç’s collaborator Dikker explores what it is like to be on the same wavelength in academic neuroscientific research. Dikker writes: “brains are ‘proactive’ organs” that are “prediction machines.” [10] Predictive language processing recruits top down neurocognitive processing [11] of human brain’s unique ‘online’ neuronal workspace access to multiple brain areas, rather than the bottom up processing based on the brain’s slower processing of direct sense stimulation. Prediction is linked to our social brain’s capacity for language to express common ground. For example, prediction is linked to our ability to finish other people’s sentences. Dikker points to the role of telepathy in defining the boundaries between art and science: “Marina might say: “Well, that’s some sort of telepathic transfer of energy.” … But we as scientists are trained to ask: What in the physical world mediates that connectivity?” [12] Neuro cognitive scientists and technologists developing artificial intelligence, media and military telepathies such as DARPA may refer to synthetic telepathies and psychotronic telepathies – for example ‘pre-emptive’ engineering of telepathic nanosoldiers [13] where telepathy and telekinesis deterritorialise soldiers’ future bodies. [14] In general though, neuro cognitive scientists find more scientific currency and traction covered by other widely used terms that share meaning with the term telepathy such as extended mind/cognition, empathy, sympathy, hypnosis, memory, prediction, pre-emption, theory of mind, and mind reading – following the turn to the social within neuro cognition in the last ten years. Avant garde artists such as Abramoviç are pioneering new telepathies of the revolutionary social brain in performances with and without collaboration with scientists. However, as Charles Wolfe points out it would be naïve to ignore organisations such as DARPA and Rand Corporation who are also pioneering new telepathies in the service of neurocapitalism. [15]


Heading: Usman Haque


Haque’s Sky Ear installation may resemble an artwork, but it is an experiment designed to explore interactive mobile sensor and architecture systems and how people relate to each other and their spaces through mass participation. Haque creates clouds that manifest the effects of aurora borealis using carbon fibre, balloons, mobile phones and miniature sensor circuits that respond to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) linked to LED lighting. The phones communicate with each other via infrared and participating members of the public, who are given the numbers of the airborn phones and can listen to atmospheric ‘whistlers’ and ‘spherics’ of electromagnetic phenomena of the sky. This interactive work responds particularly to EMF of Hertzian mobile phones, text messaging, television, radio transmissions, and laptops. Calling the cloud changes the electromagnetic environment and the colour of the balloons. The work Sky Ear thus shows the pervasiveness of both natural and manmade invisible electromagnetism, as well as the impact of the mobile phones and text messages of participants upon stratospheric energetics. Some of Haque’s Burble works explore other kinds of public interactions, such as the use of any remote control devices in a communal display of illuminated interactive airborn helium balloons. [16]


Haque explores the telepathic nature of today’s urbanised cities, in which telecommunications, smart technologies, telemetric media and even tiny mobile sensors of ‘smart dust’ permeate every aspect of architecture. [17] There are fantastical promises of awe and freedom of telepathy in contemporary telecommunications, telemetric and smart dust sensor technology and urban sensor connectivity. Intelligent communication ecologies consist of clouds and oceans. Transcendental poetics of machines that anticipate human needs and commands are celebrated in Jennifer Gabrys’ text Telepathically Urban, which explores sensor architectures and mobile smart dust extending early twentieth century radio and electromagnetic transmission technologies and the long history of utopian futurist aesthetics. [18] Smart dust can be linked to the telepathic understanding of the nineteenth century interest in atomised ether and atomic dematerialisation, as well as the future development of tiny neurobiological sensors of neural dust. The high ambience of smart sensors accompanied by florid promises of telepathy relates to the invention and re-invention of telecommunications as it is accompanied by the invention and re-invention of telepathy. Communications history shows a strong rivalry between spiritualism and radio to pull signals out of the air. [19] Haque’s work with telecommunications as a drift of mote-like sensors points to the analogy of telepathic smart dust to the theories of crowd contagion of Gustave Le Bon and Marcel Mauss, who are recognised theorists of telepathy and telekinesis within sociology.


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Caption: Figure 2 – Sky Ear, Usman Haque, a floating glowing cloud of extra-large helium balloons, embedded with mobile phones, listens out for electromagnetic waves in the sky, at NNM in London, United Kingdom, 2004. © Haque Design + Research. Used with permission.


Synaesthetic telepathy of futurist poetics are discussed by Franco Bifo Berardi, which resonates with the poetics of Haque’s Sky Ear. Berardi shows how the nineteenth century poet Velimir Chlebnikov worked with technology, transmentalism and psychedelics to explore emotional and mental transmission over thingness through the use of colour, phoneme, image and word to generate a synaesthetic telepathy. [20] Futurist telepathy relates to issues of cognitive capitalism and techno-cultural transformation of Gaia telepathies in the work of Haque and Chlebnikov. Machine to machine telepathy, and the problem of telepathic-machinic interference that Alan Turing drew attention to, can be extended to code aesthetics, where algorithmic code is shown to have a telepathetic pre-emptive soft thought process of its own. [21]


Heading: Gianni Motti


Motti’s work "Higgs" à la recherche de l'anti-Motti, CERN, Geneva maps the path of quantum particle action onto human experience and uses performance and video camera to compare the artist himself to an atom by walking the 27km Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Atomic particles lap the LHC 11, 000 times per second, but in his performance Motti took six hours, unaccelerated at five kilometres per hour, with cameraman. The long film depicts lost sense of time, and an anthropomorphised atom in an uncanny relativity.


In another artwork called Psy Room Motti worked with post-Lacanian psychoanalytic transferential telepathy in a Columbian gallery, where gallery viewers discussed their problems with Motti. After Motti and the media realised that the people were all complaining about the president the psychoanalytic artwork morphed into a media event and a passive protest and telepathic crowd that threatened to destabilise the president of Columbia outside of his palace, using the media modulated telekinetic powers of thought consciousness aligned to popular revolution.


Motti’s creative labouring is aligned with a Deleuzian molecular aesthetic that understands that art, performance and political events involve the capture of forces invisible to the human eye, as well as a Simondonian aesthetic that recognises the dividual in processes of collective individualization. Motti replaces a few tiny particles with the massive swarm of particles embodied by his own body within the LHC. In Psy Room individual psychological consultations morph into a swarm of democratic protest to individuate a crowd.


Both of these projects work with human structures used to analyse invisible processes, structures that enable telepathy to be observed in both psychoanalysis and physics. Sigmund Freud’s recognition of telepathy occurring in psychoanalysis, which was accompanied by his curiosity and intellectual anxiety about the discovery of radium and quantum relativity, is continued today. These ideas find expression, for example, in the work of contemporary psychoanalysis of Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger. Albert Einstein’s reluctant observation of quantum telepathy is now embraced by contemporary quantum physicists, such as a Karen Barad. In previous papers I have shown that aesthetic dimension to be the telepathic psychoanalytic dimension, supported by Marcel Duchamp and Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger (Ettinger is also an artist). [22] This theory overlaps with analogous concepts of telepathy and telekinesis with speculative aesthetic engagement with quantum causality. Barad and other theorists of Speculative Materialism and Speculative Reality such as Timothy Morton put forth the argument that the aesthetic dimension is the causal dimension, and thus the telekinetic quantum dimension. [23] Morton says:


The causal dimension–that is the aesthetic dimension–is nonlocal and nontemporal, which is another way of saying that objects are closer than they appear in the mirror of our habitual patterns. Objects are somehow entangled together in the casual-aesthetic dimension - I borrow the image from quantum theory, in which when objects do come very close, they become the same thing. [24]


Morton uses quantum theory to challenge what we define as matter and solidity so that consciousness is understood as a form of action at a distance. [25] Barad brings transversal theory of quantum action at a distance and ‘intra-action’ between objects to other arts and science disciplines. [26]


For Motti to walk the LHC the particle accelerator must be turned off, as a single energised proton passing through the body can injure and even kill. Motti’s performance is ‘telepathological’ in that it is at a distance (tele) to the pathology of killing the artist or making him very sick indeed. This word telepathology already exists as a medical term for the digitized study of disease at the biological molecular level. Microscope telepathology enables the invisible to be visioned and the immaterial nature of materiality to be observed at the molecular level. Visioning at the quantum nano level through the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) beyond the scope of the human eye and optical microscopes (including those of telepathology), quantum physics has shown us that there are also empathetic, telepathic, telekinetic and ‘spooky’ actions happening at the atomic level, where particle bodies are simultaneously material and immaterial. Einstein famously referred to telepathic and telekinetic phenomena of quantum physics as spooky action at a distance. Unlike medical telepathology microscopes, the AFM does not work with optical magnification; it uses a physical probe to touch and even gently etch the surface of nano particles in order to map and visualize them using digital algorithms. Thus AFM extends from the genealogy of microscope technology of medical telepathology, using touch instead of optical magnification, and it works with distance through digital mediation (tele) of touch/feeling (pathy) as a kind of touch-based digital telepathology.


As mentioned, Motti’s Psy Room works with psychoanalysis, crowds and politics, which can be further elaborated on in relation to the telepathy of herd behaviour. It uses telepathy as a revolutionary intensification force similar to that described by Jean Jacques Lebel’s May 1968 manifesto for artistic and revolutionary European Happenings in his text On the Necessity of Violation. [27] Motti’s LHC walking work slows down the constantly accelerated mining of quantum forces, not quite placing his body on the gears of the machine, but almost. Accelerationism, currently undergoing a revival via Nick Land appreciators associated with Speculative Materialism, has its roots in one of Marx’s more problematic solutions to capitalism – to drive the individualism of capitalism so hard and fast that it smashes quicker. A more recent confrontation of accelerated capitalism through crowd contagion appeared in the form of the Occupy movement. According to McKenzie Wark [28], the movement resulted in an abstract embodiment of global telesthesia - telesthesia being a concept inseparable from telepathy, with more of an emphasis on thesis as theory, rather than the affect, sensation or pain of ‘-pathy’. This Occupy telesthesia manifested against the animal spirits of the charging stock market bull and worked to extend the radical telepathy witnessed by Lebel’s treatise on May 68 and Happenings, as well as the action at a distance observed by Gabriel Tarde and Maurizio Lazzarato and the savage telepathy observed by Marcel Mauss in crowds. 1968 was not only the moment when a number of conceptual artists created important works with telepathy, such as Robert Barry and Susan Hiller, it is also when the society of control really began working with modulations of action at a distance through media and cognitive capitalism.  The Simondonian and trickster dividual figure of Motti in the LHC artwork is capable of transforming into a quantum telepathic swarm in Psy Room as an individualised crowd of many. Motti’s trickster approach to quasi-mysticism mischief brings the persistent mysteries of crowd telepathy and quantum physics into close alignment with the psychosocial ‘molecular revolution’ as understood by Deleuze and Guattari, which combines psychiatry and politics with transversal aesthetics.


The following section continues to explore Deleuzian molecular aesthetics through discussion of Operaist/activist cognitive immateriality, with a connection to speculative aesthetics of quantum neurodynamics.


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Caption: Figure 3 -"Higgs" à la recherche de l'anti-Motti, CERN, Geneva, Gianni Motti, 2005. Video, 5:50 minute, performance 5:50 min, walk in the underground LHC tunnel (particle accelerator), 27 km. © Gianni Motti and Gallerie Perrotin. Used with permission.


Heading: Telepathologies of Cognitive Capitalism


Sub-heading: Immaterial Labour of Activism, Culture and Cognition


Neidich is interested in telepathy as it relates to psychopathologies of cognitive capitalism. [29] For example, he explores the para-psychology of the financialisation of capital through neuropower and neuroplasticity. [30] ‘Operaist’ thinkers are aligned to Italian ‘workerist’ or labour activism and Negrian philosophies, including Italian Saint Precario activists who respond to the immaterial labour conditions that are replacing Fordist labour. Saint Precario activists identify as ‘precognitive’ precariat workers adapted from the futurist telepathic ‘Precogs’ from Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report. [31] Another Operaist Deleuzian is Berardi, already mentioned in relation to futurist telepathy poetics that extend into contemporary society’s increased mediation and modulation through virtual realities. [32]


Key to Neidich’s thinking is the event structure of reading and writing in human cognitive evolution, which occurred too recently, just 5-6000 years ago, to be the product of Darwinian biological evolution. Human reading and writing skills could be a form of bio-neuro-cultural evolution resulting in technologically mediated telepathy, as theorist David Porush proposes. [33] Another related theory that Neidich draws attention to is Stanislaus Dahaene’s notion of Neuronal Recycling, which considers that new skills, such as reading and writing emerge within underutilized older parts of the plastic human brain in response to new environmental pressures. The cultural and neural plasticity demonstrated by Baldwinian notions of evolution through culture and learning are aligned to Marx’s dialectical materialism and this is the speculative toolbox of telepathy that Neidich is interested in. Neidich writes: “I want to speculate that art research and experimentation is a prerequisite for the study of future conditions of the brain in which telepathy like its predecessors reading, writing and mathematics will become a cerebral organ.” [34] The existing telepathic aspects of the human brain - the predictive, proactive and pre-emptive aspects of social neuroplasticity already linked to reading, writing, and the ‘mind reading’ aspects of ‘theory of mind’ - are updated and mutated generationally and transgenerationally through Baldwinian evolution in response to environment pressures of new techlepathies and teletechnologies. Reading and writing are immaterial and semiotic cerebral organs that transform the materiality of the brain, and these skills are acquired by individuals in their lifetime through learning processes. Neidich asks:


“Could telepathy be the result of similar and as yet unrealized generational and transgenerational plasticity? Are the cultural contingencies of mind reading, social neuroscience, theory of mind, consumer neuroscience creating a new ecology of telepathic dispositions? Does our society abound with telepathic conditions ready to be concretized?” [35]


It is no mistake that Dikker came to collaborate with Abramoviç through her neuro cognitive research into eye tracking linked to language skills, brain synchonicity and social production of common ground. The Visual Word Form Area associated with reading and writing skills at the posterior of the human brain is analogous to the Infero-Temporal section of macaque monkeys associated with numerosity, and this leads Dahaene to conclude that the older technology of monkey communication is colonised by human cultural evolution of socially learnt reading and writing language codes. [36] Dahaene’s ‘Neuronal Recycling Hypothesis’ explicitly links bio-neuro-cultural neuroplasticity to pre-emptive predictive mechanisms of the human brain - what Abramoviç and experimental artists such as Neidich refer to as telepathy.


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Caption: Figure 4 - Caption: Duende Drawing, Warren Neidich, 2014-2015. Wall Drawing, 9 feet x 12 feet. © Warren Neidich. Used with permission.


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Caption: Figure 5 - Caption: Duende Drawing (Detail), Warren Neidich, 2014-2015. Wall Drawing, 9 feet x 12 feet. © Warren Neidich. Used with permission.


Maurizio Lazzarato’s Operaist theories of action at a distance operating in societies of control are central to much of Neidich’s thinking about immaterial labour and cognitive capitalism, as well as Neidich’s collaborative peers publishing in his Psychopathology of Cognitive Capitalism publications. Lazzarato extends the work of earlier social theorist and criminologist Gabriel Tarde’s theories of telepathy of society and crowds, very similar to that of Le Bon and Mauss already mentioned. 


Lazzarato is a theorist of immaterial labour who explores how the human mind is doing physical work all the time. Lazzarato’s descriptions of the way modulations of power and mechanisms of social control are distributed and telecommunicated in society are highly suggestive of telekinesis, and he uses the term ‘action at a distance’ a number of times. For example, this is a Lazzarato quote that Neidich has used numerous times: “In the societies of control, power relations come to be expressed through the action at a distance of mind on another, through the brain’s power to affect and become affected, which is mediated and enriched by technology.” [37] Supporting this alignment of telekinesis with cognition is Lisa Blackman’s book Immaterial Bodies, which reasserts the telepathic foundation of affective phenomena and contemporary affect theory. [38] Blackman argues that consciousness and extended cognition are a form of telekinesis, parallel to Neidich’s interest in neuroplasticity and oscillatory feedback with the environment through epigenesis. [39] The transformative process of epigenesis, or symbiotic gene/culture evolution, works like a cybernetic feedback loop between brain, biology, culture and environment to evolve new symbolic organs and telepathies and telekinetics aligned to language and number skills, within individuals and transgenerationally. There is now increased competition through accelerated capitalism for invention-power. [40] Lazzarato shows that contemporary capitalism automatically and constantly seeks out new creative invention-powers through telekinetic ‘collaboration of brains.’ [41]


Tiziana Terranova, elaborates further on this telekinetic collaboration of brains and extends Lazzarato and Tarde’s thinking on action at a distance in society. She looks at the difference between cooperation and capitalistic competition in social production. Action at a distance and sympathetic cooperation work as forces of spirit, soul and love that connect up brains through something like ‘waves’,  ‘sea’ and noospheric atmospheres, with the brain understood as extending beyond the biological and individual. Sympathetic cooperation in social production works as “action-at-a-distance by spirit (or another memory-brain)”. [42] Terranova, Lazzarato and Tarde see wealth in terms of networked imaginations, psychopower and inventionpower so that wealth is “neither in land, nor labour, nor capital, nor utility but within invention and association.” Sympathetic cooperation counters the neoliberal ethos of individualistic capitalistic competition, but it also counters “exclusion of sympathy and love, strongly present in utopian socialism”. Terranova locates telekinetic force both within capitalism and anti-capitalist alternatives to the “neoliberal paradigm of market production” and competition. [43]


Sub-Heading: eading: Quantum Neurodynamics


Social, psychical, political, economic and aesthetic developments will be radically impacted by the challenge to human consciousness presented by emerging developments in quantum computing. Further impacts include recent breakthroughs in internet facilitated human brain-to-brain communication, lauded as a new telepathy, and successfully achieved more than once since 2014 by international teams of neuroscientists and computer brain interface scientists. There is also serious scientific speculation that consciousness may be a material substance called perceptronium.


Whilst the brain has specific modalities for processing sense data it then perceives them in a unified way. Immanuel Kant’s Transcendental Conditioning anticipated contemporary cognitive science’s interest in cognitive binding, which is shared with quantum physicists’ interest in entanglement of various different wavelengths of things and immaterialities of the world. Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic and concept of intuition is supported by relativity theory, and the quantum neurodynamic hypothesis, just recently proven, that the brain can support quantum coherence in microtubules despite being “warm, wet and noisy”. [44] Quantum coherence, thought to be too delicate to be observed outside of the cold temperatures of controlled labs, is also being found in warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird-brain navigation, and our sense of smell. [45] Speculative aesthetics of cognitive and quantum immateriality are materially engaged with through science and philosophy, as well as art.


Heading: Conclusion


The paper argues that artistic work with telepathy and telekinesis is significant in and beyond the art/science interface, and sustains a critical dialogue with Speculative Materialist and Cognitive Materialist philosophies in which telepathy and action at a distance are key to understanding causality, aesthetics and immaterial labour. Telepathy and telekinesis are now shown to be at work in art and theory through integral and material engagement with quantum, cognitive and media aesthetics. It is argued that the work of artists who mobilise telepathy and action at a distance (telekinesis) involves transversal and molecular aesthetics associated with psychical and political complexities. The paper finds artists and theorists of telepathy and telekinesis are redistributing the sensible, aligned with and yet displacing modernist notions of brain intuition of the Kantian transcendental aesthetic.


Future directions for this research include further reflection on immaterial labour, algorithmic soft thought and the extro-scientific, or the facticity outside science that refuses to be a science fiction, as well as further artistic research dialogue with neuro cognitive scientists and quantum physicists. [46]




[1] LIVE from the NYPL: Antonio Damasio and Marina Abramovic, November 13, 2010, http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2010/11/12/antonio-damasio-marinia-abromovic (accessed October 15, 2014).


[2] Johan Pijnappel and Marina Abramoviç, “Marina Abramoviç, Biography by Johan Pijnappel, Interview Amsterdam” in Art Meets Science and Spirituality in a Changing Economy: From Competition to Compassion, eds. Louwrien Wijers and Johan Pijnappel (London: Academy Editions, 1990), 54-63.


[3] Suzanne Dikker and Liina Pylkkänen, “Predicting language: MEG evidence for lexical preactivation,” Brain & Language 127 (2013), 55-64.


[4] Suzanne Dikker and Matthias Oostrik, “Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze,” in “Gallery Artists,” Leonardo 47, no. 5 (2014), 429-435, 431.


[5] Aviva Hope Rutkin, “Marina Abramoviç wants you to drive with your mind,” in The Raptor Lab, August http://theraptorlab.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/marina-Abramoviç-wants-you-to-drive-with-your-mind/ (accessed December 9, 2013).


[6] Marina Abramovic Institute, Kickstarter, 2013, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maihudson/marina-abramovic-institute-the-founders/description (accessed April 5, 2015).


[7] Aviva Hope Rutkin, “Marina Abramoviç wants you to drive with your mind.”


[8] Charles Green, The Third Hand: Collaboration in art from conceptualism to post-modernism (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press), 169. Jacquelene Drinkall, “Politics of Telepathic Collaborations: The 60’s, the 80’s and Now” (paper presentation at Collaborations in Modern and Postmodern Visual Art, hosted by Social and Aesthetics Research Centre (SARU), School of English and Communications and Performance Studies, Arts Faculty, Monash University. Presented at Monash Conference Centre, September 30-October, 2010). Podcast available: http://podbay.fm/show/390323811/e/1285905601. 


[9] David Sylvester and Gilbert and George [Gilbert and George in interview with David Sylvester]. “I Tell You Where There's Irony In Our Work: Nowhere, Nowhere, Nowhere,” Modern Painters (Winter 1997): 18-25.


[10] Suzanne Dikker, Lauren J. Silbert, Uri Hasson, and Jason D. Zevin, “On the Same Wavelength: Predictable Language Enhances Speaker-Listener Brain-to-Brain Synchrony in Posterior Superior Temporal Gyrus,” The Journal of Neuroscience 34, no. 18 (30 April 2014): 6267-6272, doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3796-13.2014 (accessed April 5, 2015).


[11] Suzanne Dikker and Liina Pylkkänen, “Predicting language: MEG evidence for lexical preactivation,” 55 ad 63. “Predictive language processing recruits a top-down network where predicted words are activated at different levels of representation, from more ‘abstract’ lexical–semantic representations in temporal cortex, all the way down to visual word form feature.”


[12] Maryam Zaringhalam interviews Suzanne Dikker, “on the same wavelength”, ArtLab, http://thisisartlab.com/tag/suzanne-dikker/ (accessed April 3, 2015).


[13] Luciana Parisi and Steve Goodman, “The Affect of Nanoterror,” Culture Machine 7 (2005) http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/viewArticle/29/36 (accessed May 30, 2014).


[14] Paul Thomas, Nano Art. The Immateriality of Art, Bristol and Chicago: Intellect, 2013), 24-25.


[15] Charles Wolfe, “Cultured Brains and the Production of Subjectivity: The Politics of Affect(s) as an Unfinished Project,” in The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism Part Two, ed. Warren Neidich (Berlin: Archive Books, 2014), 245-274, 249-50.


[16] Sky Ear, http://www.haque.co.uk/skyear/information.html (accessed April 23, 2014).


[17] Jennifer Gabrys, “Telepathically Urban,” in Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture, eds. Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), 48-63. Available online: http://research.gold.ac.uk/4544/1/Gabrys_Telepathically_Urban.pdf. Gabrys refers to Roger Luckhurst’s book The Invention of Telepathy.


[18] Jennifer Gabrys, “Telepathically Urban.”


[19] John Durham Peters, Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2000).


[20] Franco Bifo Beradri [sic Berardi], “ZaUM and Technomaya,” ZaUM and Technomaya, http://www.sciy.org/2011/12/17/zaum-and-technomaya-by-franco-beradri/ (accessed May 30), 2012. Also published in Franco Bifo Berardi, After the Future (Edinburgh: AK Press, 2011).

Gabrys refers to art historians Linda Dalrymple Henderson and Douglas Kahn work on futurist engagement with electromagetism and telepathy.


[21] Luciana Parisi and Stamia Portanova, “Soft Thought (in architecture and choreography),” Computational Culture (November, 2011), http://computationalculture.net/article/soft-thought (accessed May14, 2013). Parisi/Portanova conclude that pre-emptive power exists within algorithmic soft thought, but that this pre-emptive and prehension power of soft though is contained autonomously within-itself. Parisi/Portanova express wonder at the complicated nature of very specific number-code to number-code communication of algorithmic computation, in contrast to the Parisi/Goodman text that overtly identifies the emotional affect generated by telepathic nanosoldiers as invasive state sanctioned fear. Different telepathies attach not just to different technologies, but to different affects their medias generate.


[22] Jacquelene Drinkall, “Politics of Telepathic Collaborations: The 60’s, the 80’s and Now.” Jacquelene Drinkall, “Human and non-human telepathic collaborations from Fluxus to Now,” COLLOQUY text theory critique 22 (2011) www.arts.monash.edu.au/ecps/colloquy/journal/issue022/drinkall.pdf.


[23] Timothy Morton, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (Creative Commons Online: Open Humanities Press, 2013), 34, 67, 172, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.13106496.0001.001 (accessed 17 January, 2014).


[24] Timothy Morton, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality, 67.


[25] Timothy Morton, “Here Comes Everything: The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology,” Qui Parle 19, 2 (Spring/Summer 2011), 163-190, 177, 180.


[26] Karen Barad, “Nature’s Queer Performativity,” Qui Parle 19, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2011), 121-158, 125.


[27] Jean-Jacques Lebel, “On The Necessity of Violation,” The Drama Review: TDR 13, no. 1, (Autumn, 1968), 89-105.


[28] McKenzie Wark, Telethesia: Communication, Culture and Class (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013).


[29] I am invited by Neidich to develop a closely related text exploring telepathy and psychopathologies of cognitive capitalism for a forthcoming edition of Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism.


[30] Warren Neidich, “Neuropower: Art in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism,” in Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Part One, eds. Arne de Boevre and Warren Neidich (Berlin: Archive Books, 2013) 223.


[31] Marcello Tari and Illaria Vanni, “On the Life and Deeds of San Precario, Patron Saint of Precarious Workers and Lives,” The Fibreculture Journal 5, precarious labour, 2005, http://five.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-023-on-the-life-and-deeds-of-san-precario-patron-saint-of-precarious-workers-and-lives/ (accessed November 3, 2009). Matteo Pasquinelli, Animal Spirits: A Bestiary of the Commons (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers / Institute of Network Cultures,

2008), 103.


[32] Franco Bifo Beradri [sic Berardi], “ZaUM and Technomaya.” Leibniz’s dream of an alphabet of human thought emerged with the boom in global commerce, so that traders might communicate beyond the limits of linguistic difference. Berardi’s telepathy of the virtual and of creative language experimentation feeds back into questions of trade, as does Bruno Latour’s discussion of action-at-a-distance brought by modern powers of colonization, measuring, mapping, mobilization of resources and commodification in his text Action at A Distance in his book Science in Action.


[33] David Porush, “Telepathy: Alphabetic Consciousness in the Age of Cyborg Illiteracy,” in Virtual Futures: Cyberotics, Technology and Post-human Pragmatism, eds. Joan Broadhurst Dixon and Eric J. Cassidy (Routledge: London, 1998), 45-64.


[34] Warren Neidich, “Telepathy, The Next Frontier, emailed word document to author of unpublished draft work-in-progress of proposed collaborative paper, August 23, 2013.


[35] Warren Neidich, “Telepathy, The Next Frontier.”


[36] Stanislas Dehaene, “Evolution of human cortical circuits for reading and arithmetic: The ‘neuronal recycling’ hypothesis,” online paper, pre-publication version, published in From monkey brain to human brain, ed. Stanislau Dehaene et al. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2004) http://peterdanpsychology.ro/ro/pagina/25/files/docs/DehaeneFyssenChapterPre-emption2004b.pdf (accessed August 3, 2013). Gratefully sent to me by Warren Neidich with other texts on material engagement of extended cognition.


[37] Maurizio Lazzarato, “The Concepts of Life and the Living in the Societies of Control,” in Deleuze and the Social, eds. Martin Fugslang and Bent Meier Sorensen (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), 180. See also Warren Neidich, “From Noopower to Neuropower: How Mind Becomes Matter,” in Cognitive Architecture. From Biopolitics to Noopolitics. Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information, eds. Deborah Hauptman and Warren Neidich (Rotterdam: Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism, 2010) 539-81.


[38] Lisa Blackman, Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation (London: Sage, 2012).


[39] Warren Neidich, “Telepathy, The Next Frontier.”


[40] Nigel Thrift, Introduction to Cognitive Capitalism, by Yann Moulier Boutang, translated by Ed Emery (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), viii.


[41] Sven-Olov Wallenstein, “Noopolitics, Life and Architecture,” in Cognitive Architecture. From Biopolitics to Noopolitics. Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information, eds. Deborah Hauptman and Warren Neidich, 47-60 (Rotterdam: Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism), 54.


[42] Tiziana Terranova, “Another Life: social cooperation and a-organic,” Digithum 12 (2010), http://digithum.uoc.edu/ojs/index.php/digithum/article/view/n12-terranova/n12-terranova-eng. (accessed July 11, 2013).


[43] Tiziana Terranova, “Another Life: social cooperation and a-organic.”


[44] Amara D. Angelica, “Discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates 20-year-old theory of consciousness,” Kurzweil Accelerating Consciousness, News, January 16, 2014, http://www.kurzweilai.net/discovery-of-quantum-vibrations-in-microtubules-inside-brain-neurons-corroborates-controversial-20-year-old-theory-of-consciousness (accessed May 26, 2014).


[45] Amara D. Angelica, “Discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates 20-year-old theory of consciousness.”


[46] Jacquelene Drinkall, Peter Hill, Gianni Wise, “Aesthetics of Quantum Action At A Distance in Transdisciplinary Art and Theory” (poster presentation at the Australian Institute of Physics congress The Art of Physics. Presented at Melville Hall, Australian National University, December 7-11, 2014).




Baldwinian Evolution: The effect of learned behaviour on evolution gene expression modulation that occurs generationally and transgenerationally, and not to be confused with Darwinian evolution, which takes much longer.


Cognitive Capitalism: The age of the information and network society and knowledge economy. It emerged around 1975 just after the societies of control emerged around 1968, and the two are inextricably linked.


Epigenesis: In genetics epigenesis involves gene expression and modification of gene expression. It is not genetic mutation, which takes much longer, but genetic translation and differentiation made in response to environmental conditions, both ‘natural’ and cultural.


Immaterial Labour: Post-Fordist aspects of labour that have a new emphasis on mental, affective, cognitive and informational labour rather than physical labour, accompanying increased automation of commodity production. Immaterial labour is also aligned to artistic and cultural forms of labour, the production of subjectivity and generation of aesthetics and distribution of the sensible within society. Closely associated with Italian Operaist recognition of new labour conditions and social theories of Maurizzio Lazzarato


Noosphere: The sphere of thought and mind analogous to the atmosphere and stratosphere. It is a distinct layer of consciousness emerging from the geosphere and biosphere consisting of a collaboration and interaction of social human brains/minds.


Neuronal Recycling Hypothesis: Stanislau Dahaene’s explanation of recent human cognitive evolution, especially the reading and writing paradox that cannot be the product of Darwinian evolution. The plasticity of the brain ‘recycles’ existing circuitry of the monkey brain. New cognitive functions invade closely related to pre-existing functions.


Neurocapitalism: The industry of neural enhancement, for example drugs for neurological problems, prosthetics for people with neurological disabilities as well as a range of technologies for soldiers and workers to enhance neurological capabilities and performance.


Quantum Telekinesis: Associated with quantum non-locality, entanglement, field theory and Bell’s Theorem, and also known as spooky action at a distance, action at a distance, empathy at a distance, passion at a distance and even ironically as fashion at a distance. It refers to uncanny action of atomic particles.


Soft-Thought: Intelligence, internal logic and prehension of digital algorithms that affects design, especially in architecture.


Speculative Materialism:  A term referring to the current speculative turn in contemporary philosophy and continental materialism closely associated and synonymous with realist metaphysics of Speculative Realism.


Spooky Action at a Distance: see Quantum Telekinesis


Teletechnologies: Technologies of distance, especially telecommunications, television, radio, Skype, satellite communications.


Techlepathy: At the extreme this is synthetic telepathy or psychotronics associated with psychic warfare and ‘extreme tech’ telepathies that resemble telepathy chips and exotic experimental forms of military mind control devices, but it can also be used to refer to gentler forms of technological mediated of telepathy or the technology of telepathy such as language.


Telemetrics: Automatic measurements that are remotely transmitted.


Transference: In this paper I primarily refer to the therapeutic psychoanalytic process known as transference that occurs in the relationship between the patient and analyst. Freud considered transference to be inseparable from telepathy. It can also refer to the transformative transmission of energies such as electricity.




UNSW Art & Design, Aesthetics After Finitude, Gianni Wise, Tom Apperley, Warren Neidich, Warren Armstrong, Laura Lotti, Laura Fischer, Suzanne Dikker, Allison Brainard, Malory Roark at Sean Kelley Gallery, Marina Abramoviç, Lara Blanchy at Galerie Perrotin, Gianni Motti, Susan at Haque Design + Research, Usman Haque, Vicki Sowry, Dot and Pete, DART Sponsorship, Gosford City Council, my many very kind and generous crowdfunders, Hilal Atici and Mehmet, friends and colleagues at the TIC Cloud and Molecular Aesthetics conference.


Author Biography


Jacquelene Drinkall is a research-driven artist, performer, writer, curator, thinker and para-academic. She holds BA Visual Art H1 University Medal (Painting), Masters by Research in Visual Art (Painting) and PhD Art History and Theory. She is recipient of two awards each from COFA Student Association, AGNSW and NAVA, as well as an APA and the Marten Bequest Travelling Art Scholarship in Painting and more. She recently received a DART Sponsorship to attend the conference where this paper was first presented. She investigates and pioneers the discipline of integral telepathy in art, science, society and aesthetics and is currently focused on new materialisms in speculative and cognitive philosophy, affect theory, and immaterial labour. Jacquelene has pioneered focused attention to working with telepathy in art for over twenty years, since studying with Marina Abramoviç and Krzysztof Wodiczko in Paris whilst on an Australian National University Telecom Travelling Art Scholarship. Her art practice involves painting, real and virtual world performance and interactions, kinetics, audio, video, photomedia, EEG interaction, drawing, weaving with telecommunications wire, performative objects, sculpture, installation, and she also works collaboratively from time to time. She exhibits regularly in Australia and internationally. 

The Art and Flux of Telepathy 2.0 in Second Life by Jacquelene Drinkall

The chapter looks at contemporary art practice in Virtual Worlds, and the effervescence of new technologically mediated telepathies. It was published in 'Virtual Worlds and Metaverse Platforms: New Communications and Identity Paradigms.' 



Human and Non-Human Telepathic Collaborations from Fluxus to Now by Jacquelene Drinkall

This paper explores telepathy as a tool and method of collaboration within international visual art practice since the 1960s. The words telepathy and telethesia were coined simultaneously when Frederic Myers founded the Society for Psychical Research in London in 1882. However, telepathy names an experience of distant (tele) feeling (pathos) or ideas (thesia) found in all cultures. Telepathy and collaboration are tools that a number of artists reach for simultaneously when attempting to share and/or transform subjectivity. This raises questions of the overlapping similarity between telepathy and collaboration, and of what it means to collaborate using telepathy. What is shared between telepathy and collaboration, and what is different?