From the occult rituals of witchcraft to esoteric psychedelia, the online exhibition Weird Gnosis takes you on a journey into some of the weirder parts of the web.
As new media technologies appear increasingly indistinguishable from magic, the Internet is becoming a forum for the struggle between magickal subcultures – the ‘k’ differentiating it from rabbit-from-a-hat stage magic – who use the language of esoteric revelation and weird mediation. From ancient spiritual practices of divine self-knowledge – or gnosis – to the psychedelic drugs of contemporary cultic milieus, these technologies of the self can be conceptualised as both cure and poison – what the ancients called a pharmakon.
Because of how profoundly media affect how we encounter one another, the world and indeed ourselves, these esoteric practices may open paths through which to imagine media differently. Like the tech products of Silicon Valley, they are neither good nor bad, and by no means neutral.
While they have been imagined differently in different places and times, these technologies of the self have generally been relegated to the margins. In the last few years, however, dramatic legal and cultural changes have taken psychedelics mainstream. While there are reasons to celebrate these new openings, we need to preserve the mystical lineage through which these weird practices reach all the way back to secret mysteries of antiquity.
With a selection of video and performance art, Weird Gnosis curates a dialogue with artists and thinkers whose practices radically disturb the familiar by invoking the truly weird.
With: Camille Barton, Zach Blas, Yin-Ju Chen, Joshua Citarella, Erik Davis, Geoffrey Lillemon, Juliette Lizotte, Agnes Momirski, Suzanne Treister and Ellie Wyatt.
Weird Gnosis is a web-project curated by Inez de Coo and Marc Tuters and produced by IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture]. It is supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, the City of Utrecht, and the Democracy & Media Foundation.