The Dice that are Thrown and the Dice that Fall Back
A Conversation with Dustin Wilson, Futurologist.
David LaRiviere speaks with Dustin Wilson: artist, scientist, futurologist.
Dustin Wilson’s Futurology is an ambitious hybrid investigation that draws on the future by way of wormholes and throwing dice. Now, some confusion may arise in the course of what follows pertaining to the question of where Wilson is an artist and where “science” takes over in a most peculiar incarnation, one that is variously effectual, grass-roots, serious, critical and even satirical. In point of fact, before the interview began Wilson-the-artist raised the question of whether or not he should remain “in character” throughout the proceedings. Having already been fully seduced by the artist’s strange program it seemed to me the only way to proceed would be in this so-called “character,” but with the understanding that this projection is not a contrivance that is in any way fake. In the proper sense Wilson’s futurologist is a vehicle that possesses very real powers to layer text into the future. Our interview transpired in this spirit, laden with the most advanced time-travel technology devised since the “African Space Program” enacted by Sun Ra. As but one example of Wilson’s technological prowess, the artist throws “dice” as a means to stimulate his “Tachyonic Anti-Telephone” and thereupon deploy a graphic interface to develop detailed portraits of people from the future. Rolling dice to divine the future: such an invention would be a hot item on eBay were it not for its utter contingency and reliance upon the artist as the “medium” that will accept and therefore survive time travel. We must rely on Wilson to produce this particular Futurology, but nevertheless take careful note along the way of the resonance that is produced with the past and present.
I caught up with Dustin Wilson via Skype some time after his opening at Modern Fuel in Kingston, the exhibition that first exposed his dice-device.
David LaRiviere: In our correspondence you spoke of a recent development in your research, namely that you have detected an entity downstream that may be trying to contact you. This is indeed an exciting development, can you describe how this development occurred and just what the hell is going on with this future “Deep Throat?”
Dustin Wilson: What I refer to as a downstream agent is very much a general term applied to some kind of intelligence that is projecting information back to me, if you will. I can try to make an educated guess as to what form that agent will take and what time period this information is being broadcast from … I would hazard that it is being transmitted from around the year 4500 because that is really at the tail end of any kind of information that I am getting. Within the continuum that I am studying the cut off line is really around the year 4500, so I can assume that the information is being transmitted from that point. Obviously the transmission is conducted by an individual or group who possess a fairly advanced technological ability, possibly a blue suit (a being that is a catalyst for many of the changes seen in this futurology, or an agency that imposes mechanistic control over the population), is rather than what we see as the working under-classes who are otherwise so often depicted. Having said this, there are all kinds of problems in making assumptions about what this downstream entity might be.
DL: I may have been guilty of making one of those assumptions in that I’ve already referred to this entity as being a “Deep Throat” of sorts, which is to say that I’ve ascribed the entity a “will.” From what you are saying I realize that my assumption is far too elaborated, that really what you have is a more oblique sense of this agent.
DW: There is certainly that potential, but to date there hasn’t been any information pertaining to the intentions of the downstream agent, only that my location of quantum wormholes, the ones that are transmitting, correspond to the other side by what seems to be more than just a coincidence. But the attempt to generate information about future individuals through rolling dice is as much an attempt to somehow promote a back and forth or dialogue with the downstream agent, as well as an attempt to generate further information about specific future individuals, their habits, their way of life. It’s really an attempt to build the technology for that communication so that perhaps I will be able to learn more about the downstream agent.
DL: And his/her/their particular place within the future social order, whether you are hearing from the subjugated, genetically modified working class, or this more elite class, or perhaps an entity that straddles along the edge between the two classes.
DW: Yes, in my darker moments I sometimes think that it might be “misinformation” that I am being fed. In fact, I don’t know if the information is an attempt to prevent the future, or simply to inform, or even if it is a misinformation campaign. I can’t be sure.
DL: Which is an interesting position for you to be in because, while you are continually gaining more information through the dice-throw process, you do not have access to how your presence is felt at the other end, or the nature of that reception. Put another way, you are in the dark about the character of the guiding intelligence on the other side.
DW: If I were to make a guess, right now, it appears to be totally benign. However, I can’t really interpret or see any kind of altruistic motive or any kind of malicious motive. It’s just information, it’s just data that I’m interpreting, and hopefully interpreting it correctly. I wouldn’t like to think of it as some sort of Tachyonic Anti-Telephone “robo-call,” that might deliver some kind of future propaganda — maybe whereby the blue-suit community are portrayed as a completely altruistic organization. However, such propagandist doubts to a side, it certainly does not appear that way based on the data that I’m receiving.
DL: Both in public exhibition and on your webpage futureliferegression.com you reference an obscure video on YouTube entitled “The Hutchison Effect” as a major influence in your work. The video features Canadian scientist John Hutchison presenting samples of metals fused together with other materials, such as wood, with his Hutchison Effect Apparatus. It later shows how that the apparatus can levitate and bend metals. I would dare say that the subject of that scientific profile shares your even-keel temperament and some of your demeanour. What drew you to this science in particular? How does Hutchison play out in Dustin Wilson’s Futurology?
DW: John Hutchison, in both his methods and the liberated way in which he worked, was influential. I understand that he no longer pursues his zero-point energy project largely because people in his neighbourhood grew tired of having objects materialize and dematerialize in their backyard, along with the anti-gravitational effects that would occur through this key-wave quantum jitter activity that he was producing in his garage. But what I see taking place, especially with a lot of the technologies that are observable in my research, particularly the zero-point energy and anti-gravity propelled vehicles, is that we could potentially draw a direct line between the technologies in the very primitive forms that Hutchison uses and those technologies that we are seeing in the future. He is just another Canadian, a “garage” scientist, and I admire his way of working and his resilience in the face of ridicule.
DL: For me what is striking is that Hutchison, like yourself, speaks in a “minor” voice, which is to say that both in terms of the video aesthetic and in terms of Hutchison’s own “outsider” status in the Scientific community, his presentation glides from physical theory to philosophical interpretation in an idiosyncratic way, thereby contravening the classical voice of “authority” with something a little more grass roots, and definitely more passionate. Am I right in suggesting that you, like Hutchison, differ from the blue-suited scientists in that there can be no dialectical synthesis able to provide a complete account to render the situation “once and for all.” Rather, there is always a margin for wonder, at the centre of the attraction is this case for wonder, and that “wonder” is the property that contrasts your system to the closed (hierarchical) system of the blue-suited ones. You work with a chaotic, open system.
DW: I agree with that statement. Very interesting point. I would like to also point out another really attractive thing about the “The Hutchison Effect,” the YouTube video, and it comes at the very end of the video, where there is a man sitting behind a desk describing what he calls “hyper-force.” This scene very much epitomizes the kind of tropes that we were going for with the “Secrets From The Future” video.
DL: I’m sorry to hear that John Hutchison no longer practices.
DW: Yes, this is what I’ve heard. I haven’t tried to contact him to ask him, although I know that he has stopped doing demonstrations of the technology. As I stated earlier, the complaints around objects materializing and dematerializing became the stated reason for his stopping. On a recent documentary that featured Hutchison, his critics were of course saying that Hutchison was “just saying” that he stopped for those reasons, and that his quitting contributes to the arguments for discrediting his work- based on the fact that he won’t try to reproduce it. Yet this may be a binding feature of the “garage scientist:” that within their mind-set or the way that such scientists interpret “scientific method” is the notion that the reproduction of results by multiple people is not necessary, and further that the proof they provide is simply their own proof, which is enough.
DL: This may be a perverse tangent, but in an odd way this suspension of proof in deference to wonder reminds me of the “QRay,” I don’t know if you’ve heard of it…
DW: It’s the bracelet?
DL: Yes. A “wellness” bracelet that claims to have curative powers. It is vaguely offered up with not a dissimilar scientific rationale in that it “works” vis-à-vis resonances. However it seems to me that the QRay example is conversely at large, situated in a home-shopping setting, proceeding in a somewhat predatory fashion. By contrast Hutchison is a character who minds his own business and is therefore quite genuine in his intentions, as is really evidenced by the passion that drives his research.
DW: I would agree with that, certainly.
DL: So I suppose there is always a line between having wonder and exploiting wonder.
DW: Yes, and I think that John Hutchison is a good example of one who resists cashing-in as such, especially when we consider the technologies that he has developed for using special crystal formations in order to produce low-yield but free energy batteries — batteries that will never run out. This seems like a technology that is ripe for exploitation. In fact, if what some of my research shows is correct this type of crystal energy converter unit will be put into use in the future, and with tremendous yields. Having said this we certainly don’t see Hutchison profiting from this technology, he lives in a bungalow in Vancouver. Although, it must be added that he has been approached by defence contractors, so we might imagine that these technologies are also being researched by DARPA or being put to use in the mid-west or perhaps within the HAARP installation. Obviously any such research activity is being kept secret.
DL: It’s interesting that both DARPA and the HAARP installation are examples of advanced military endeavours that, as you say, are enshrouded with secrecy and operating with a high degree of control. Hutchison, by contrast, is very much a grass-roots kind of character. Now maybe we can bring this home, we don’t need to talk about Hutchison the whole way, because in a sense it is this grass roots style that puts me in mind of your own work, of Dustin Wilson’s scientific method.
DW: I’m interested in the dissemination of my findings with kind of an open-source mentality. Art galleries present a great venue for this kind of dissemination, and as a space for people to engage. I’m not trying to feed anyone any definitive or authoritarian line, I merely offer an interpretation of the data a with the sincere hope that others will lend their own ideas and interpretations. Of course not all futurologists are content to let the information drive the research, in fact there is an entrepreneurial brand of futurology that is by its very nature quite popular. Two such figures that come to mind are Ray Kurzweil and Michio Kaku, two very “pop-cultural” futurologists. What they identify through their holistic research is essentially a technology-based futurology. They offer up pictures of the future where the idea of unlimited economic growth still applies. Other types of futurology, such as advanced ecological forecasts, can only offer up models of the future where a world that can possibly sustain human life would require a massive de-scaling of global economies. This, of course, is an unprofitable proposition and really not a very “popular” way of looking at the future. In the course of my research I’ve been talking with people from the Department of Ecology at the University of Guelph, and it is very difficult for them to secure funding because the results from their forecasts invariably describe a future where we need to shrink the human population, the human economy and drastically temper our effect upon the environment.
Dustin Wilson / futureliferegression.com
David LaRiviere received a BFA degree from the University of Alberta in 1989 and later, in 1996, an MA Fine Art degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in London, England. After returning to Canada, LaRiviere taught “Contemporary Art Issues” as a sessional instructor at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton and served as the President of Latitude 53 Society of Artists for two years. In 2000 LaRiviere moved to Peterborough, Ontario, to become the Director of Artspace. Most recently, LaRiviere has relocated to Saskatoon to undertake the Artistic Director position at PAVED Arts.