Across the Pennines and the North of England people are experiencing a growing 'Psychic Disturbance ‘....
As rationale becomes more individualised and collectives more confusing, a study into the re-emerging British UFO phenomena, alongside current political and geographic tensions, could be an interesting way from which to measure the temperature of divided societies and opportunity to realign our philosophical perspectives.
As we seem to become more disconnected from collectiveness, are stranger things happening around us? Are these ‘real’ or can they be attributed to the archetypes of modern fantasy. In Victorian times this was the belief and experience of the supernatural and ghost phenomena.. today the UFO (a disc like Mandala)... could be the manifestation of visionary dreams that deal with conflicting traumatic issues in the self and our relationship with troubled times.
Or, perhaps of course we are simply in fact being visited by aliens – can we totally discount things outside our normal understanding?
In confusing times of fake news and fake truths it seems feasible that people look for comfort in symbolic rumours. As we live our daily lives engaging with ‘the real’ how do we interpret what is ‘normal’? Perhaps by thinking about what is beyond our current knowledge we can find ways to encounter and explore territory we still don’t currently understand. In exploring notions of the ‘para-normal’ could this be new territory for creative and artistic ways of thinking that examine how personal belief influences the way we engage with everyday experiences?
The term paranormal in this context refers to “a proposition that has not been empirically attested to the satisfaction of the scientific establishment but is generated within the non-scientific community and extensively endorsed by people who might normally be expected by their society to be capable of rational thought and reality testing” (Irwin, 2009, p.16-17).
Through the common metaphysical interventions of the paranormal there is an opportunity to investigate the role of the ‘psychic product’, how it is manifested and how it is encountered. As geopolitically we become more nationalistic, phenomena like Brexit illustrates how communities may detach and isolate themselves in their own confirmation bias. Independence becomes defined through a ‘psychic disturbance’ (Jung, 1959) based on hopes, dreams and fantasy rationale.
Whooooa, whats that mate?
…………..Shooting star bro.
Wow mate… (or was it?.....)
The notion of the paranormal is something everyone can connect with and a levelling plane across cultures and diverse communities. It permeates our histories, folklore, belief systems and values, it acts as a reference to nature and science, posing plausible explanations for the unknown. Imagination, fascination and fantasy stimulates a human desire to explore alternative ways of ‘being’, outside the commercialised world view and towards a more creative ‘nature of living’.
Through talking about paranormal experiences, exploring the plausible science (what we know or can attempt to measure and prove) and creative speculation (prediction and invention) to investigate sense making through the lens of parapsychology it is possible to mediate and translate perceptive experiences through creative practices to direct, analyse and materialise ideas into physical form. Through artistically designed tools that re-invent how we interpret the world by means of refocusing our parameters for evaluating, measuring and experiencing it. Psychic products (the new products of everyday experience) tantalise the imagination within a grounded realism. Contemporary work examining the anomalous (Irwin, 2009) (e.g., haunted locations) has established associations between the designed environment through staged haunted experiential scenarios and its effect on wellbeing and behavior (Anette et al., 2016) allowing opportunity to consider alternative factors in designing staged experiences. Is ‘life a stage’ to be tuned to create new experiences we want to encounter?
Through creative practices it becomes increasingly important to consider how we 'emotionally engineer' the built environment as an interface from which to explore new experiences, 'para-normality' and extended visceral experience.
As artists and designers respond to ‘problems’ do we inhibit our opportunities to design ourselves into new possible futures? By focusing on fixing and being ‘realistic’ are we placing barriers in front of our creativity to re-work rather than re-invent? Are we inhibiting our opportunity as creatives or perhaps should we be celebrating being unrealistic in order to imagine things that perhaps haven’t been imagined before (Dunne, 2019). Could this be where true innovation lies? Testing the previously thought to be un-testable? To imagine the previously un-imaginable.. what do we have to lose? Perhaps we should be materialising our dreams, listening to our imagination and celebrate being constructively unrealistic in order to explore new territory. Creative practices have the ability to create new methods for living and new modes of reality, enabling opportunity to mobilise change through shaping human existence in modern times. By exploring the territory between ontology (the way we make sense of being), phenomenology (the way we read our environment) and psycho-geography (the way we translate space and find meaning in the design of places) we can choose the Visionary Rumours we create that shape how we engage with ‘living the dream’.
Fabrizio Cocchiarella is a designer, lecturer and researcher at Manchester School of Art. Current work through design practice utilises psychical research as a lens from which to re-invent design scenarios that explore the phenomenology of experience, re-interpreting ‘ways of seeing’ our relationship with the physical (and metaphysical) through ‘para-design’. An alumni of Design Products at the Royal College of Art, Fabrizio is also the co-founder of the Unidentified Facility Collaboratory which connects researchers in a collaborative search to investigate new forms of creative practice.
Annett, M. et al. (2016) The Living Room: Exploring the Haunted and Paranormal to Transform Design and Interaction. Proceedings from 2016 ACM Conference ‘Designing Interactive Systems’, Brisbane, Australia, pp1328-1340.
Dunne, A. (2019) A Larger Reality. Fitness for What Purpose? Essays on design education celebrating 40years of the Sir Misha Black Awards. Editors, Mary V Mullin, Christopher Frayling. Design Manchester, Eyewear Publishing, pp116-117.
Irwin, H.J. (2009) The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researchers Handbook, University of Hereford Press.
Jung, C. G. (1959) Flying Saucers, A modern myth of things seen in the sky. Routledge & Kegan Paul.