Some time into the future, an advanced ‘black-box’ technology enables mankind to convert an individual’s subconscious into a viewable cinematic reality.
But the labs at Psychenautix have encountered an anomaly..
Watch with headphones!
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
A film by Liam Rooney.
Lab Manager (v/o) – Joe Jones
Lab Assistant (v/o) – Marcus Cracknell
Psychonaut – Liam Rooney
Music track – Morphology (Memory Fragments)
Visual effects (Wave form source) – Odaibe
Visual effects (Ink experiment source) – Ali Wade
The story behind the film
So how did this film come about?
I actually have to thank a broken DJI Ronin.. Early last year, I’d ventured out into the Scottish wilderness to field test this brand new gimbal, and it malfunctioned before we’d gotten out of the car.. So, to avoid a wasted trip, I spent the weekend, dawn til dusk, setting up compositions in the most rugged terrain I could find and running right through the middle for an alternate source of motion.. Months later, after a second trip up north and with more of this footage in the can, I was manipulating the shots in post one day and the glimmerings of a strange sci-fi idea began to pronounce itself at the back of my mind..
What were your main interests whilst developing this piece?
For a long time, PSYCHONAUT was just a little experimental short, called Scotrun, which was playing with the ways geographical locations and precise sound design can help unleash the subconscious imagination, quite akin to ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Arrival’, ‘Under the Skin’ and other films of the same ilk. The image of a small, isolated figure in the context of a vast, open landscape environment, has always been very arresting to me..
Like the opening shot of Wind River, or K walking through the bright orange smog in Blade Runner 2049.
They can establish a very strange, contemplative space.. But these shots in Scotrun started wanting a through line, they were wanting further context. Incidentally, at the same time I was shooting this stuff, I was reading a lot of the brilliant Carl Jung, founding father of analytical psychology, and some of his ideas about the personal/collective unconscious really started to inspire a narrative structure for the piece.
Which ideas specifically?
I thought that in the same way our dreams tend to confront our life’s concerns in the form of symbolic scenarios, this ‘black-box’ technology from the future could be facilitating the same thing – hack into an individual’s unconscious mind and direct it to confront and help resolve their constraining neuroses.. So, for the character in this piece – find out what he’s running from..
So like a kind of biotech therapy?
I think that would be a highly attractive idea for the people of the future if it worked! I also find it absolutely fascinating that our unconscious mind isn’t bound by space and time in the way our waking conscious is.. That’s why we can have pre-cognitive dreams – foreseeing events that haven’t yet taken place in the timeline of our waking lives. In this piece, the subjects unconscious is sent to somewhere in the future, in order to deal with something in his past.
But it all goes wrong..
The concept of a ‘black-box’ technology is interesting because by its very nature, we don’t understand its internal workings, and therefore all its potential consequences. How would it all go wrong? What would that look like? Hence, the anomalous frequencies from the unknown source..
How did the practical process continue to develop as a result of these ideas?
Yeah so the question then became what other imagery I’d need to really bind this initially abstract, mood piece to a short, tension-building narrative arc. I really wanted to see what this initiatory process would look like.. I developed a corporate identity for the Psychenautix labs, 3 hours worth of coloured ink experiments were compressed into 15 seconds or so for the ‘serum-cell integration’ phase. For the rush of unknown frequencies, I pulled together this very specific selection of audio clips from different sources – anything from old family VHS tapes, to tiny bits of dialogue from formative movies and shows of my own childhood, as well as tv-interview excerpts from Carl Jung himself in 1957 – and then painstakingly mixed and synchronised it all with a wave-form animation. Finally, we arrived at this strange, cryptic lil number!
It will be cool to see if people can place any of the audio sources – there’s Batman The animated series, Jungle Book, Lord of The Rings, Blade Runner, Winnie The Pooh, Minority Report, The Iron giant, and more – all distorted, merged together and probably only distinguishable on repeat viewing!