van Engelen, 15 Questions about Hexen 2039, March 2007
What is your background as an artist?
born in London from a mixed (British and Polish Jewish) marriage.
I studied painting originally. In the 80s I was making what you could
call history paintings. In 1991 I began working on computers and in
other media. In my work I was always interested in history, culture,
politics and war. I have travelled a lot and lived in Australia, New
York and Berlin. I am now based in London. In 1995 I started working
on a project about the life and research of an heteronymic identity
who worked in the future for a military Institute, the Institute of
Militronics and Advanced Time Interventionality. I was also the founder
member of three collaborative groups, NIH, PI and ICOLS. See: www.ensemble.va.com.au/Treister
What extensions are you going to make to the Hexen Project?
I am working on ideas for HEXEN II the movie. At the moment I am considering
inviting a neuro-scientist to take part, and perhaps there will be
some occult scenes involving Dr John Dee and the Wizard of Oz. It
will be very different from HEXEN I. As yet I don’t have plans for
more drawings although I am working on a side project related to the
remote viewing drawings where I am inviting people to commission me
to remote view a site for them.
Are you going to write another book? If so, do you feel the writing
is like a Harry Potter line of developments?
The next planned book is titled 'NATO' and will contain reproductions
of a series of watercolours I have been working on for several years
which illustrate the NATO codification system. This project is not
narrative in structure. Hexen 2039 was already the third of a series
of research projects carried out by my heteronymic identity, Rosalind
Brodsky, at the Institute. The first 'Golem/Loew - Artificial Life',
traced the descendents of Rabbi Loew of Prague, creator of a golem,
to test whether an ability and/or desire to create artificial life
is a function carried in the DNA. The second, 'Operation Swanlake',
harnessed the energy of a black hole located in the constellation
Cygnus and with spare parts from a Soviet missile cruiser developed
a spacecraft capable of communicating in the universe.
How did you get access to most of the military information? (I ran
a search under Dames and related keywords and got nowhere). Do you
have well-connected friends?
read a lot of books about historical relationships between the military
and the occult, and about brainwashing, but some of the information
is online. There are a lot of conspiracy theory websites so it's hard
to get a balance on it all unless you go to more reliable historical
sources. I do also have family involved in one aspect of the military
and was able to procure several source images and props for the film.
For how long has the topic interested you/what made you decide to
the topics in the project have been of interest to me for a long time.
Hexen 2039 originally began as an investigation into histories of
witchcraft on the part of the Institute. This soon developed into
an investigation into the occult and inevitably, since the Institute
has a military imperative and works in alliance with other organisations
on a commission basis, it took up an offer from the Ministry of Defence
(MoD) to investigate and develop new forms of military-occult based
technology for psychological warfare. i.e. the project organically
developed through its own internal logic.
Do you think there should be openness about military issues?
not much point saying there should as the nature of military research
is generally by default secret. There are always people however who
manage to infiltrate and one organisation in particular I recently
encountered are developing counter technologies to possible outcomes
of current known military brainwashing research potentialities.
Have people told you you were wrong on any topic at all? (Journalists
get this the whole time who cover scoops).
art writers have assumed most of the information in Hexen 2039 is
invented (whereas all the data recorded in the project is actual,
it is only a few of the links that are made which are, let's say,
imaginative, and of course the fiction that this is an actual military
research project itself). Other more informed viewers have substantiated
various findings and offered further information.
What is your aim with the project - do you have any moral message?
has been a difficult issue throughout the project, the balance between
complicity and criticality. I think ultimately this conflict becomes
a part of the content of the work and transcends any idea of moral
Why did you experiment with the scrying stone.
wanted to make some remote viewing drawings and since I was at the
same time carrying out investigations into the whereabouts of the
John Dee scrying crystal (which had been removed from the Science
Museum in London) I thought it would be interesting to conflate the
two methodologies as they were both intrinsically connected within
Hexen 2039 research programme.
Your reviewer writes that your military drawings using the scrying
stone might be just as accurate as those made by the professionals.
I can just believe that. What is your opinion?
Have you tried to do any drawings that you could verify later?
but not on purpose. The first remote viewing drawing I made was of
the floor plan of Aleister Crowley's house in Scotland before I could
find an image. I verified later that in fact it had a similarly unusual
structure. I am not sure about the veracity of other later drawings,
many were unverifiable, but also this is not necessarily the issue,
it's more about the idea that these phenomena are researched seriously
by the military, and in that sense all this becomes a real part of
the world, whether its 'true' or not, in a similar but quite different
way to the 'belief' that Iraq was hiding WMDs, there is an effect.
Is the technique still in use in the military? Why (not)?
the US Remote Viewing Program was publically decommissioned by the
CIA in 1995. Some people suspect that this was not actually the case
and that the program continues in some form. Some of the remote viewers
however are working in the private sector and may receive government
Do you think it is immoral?
the results were taken seriously without any other intelligence information
sources and people were injured or killed as a result then yes. But
from what one can tell, remote viewing was/is never used as a stand-alone
Do you know of businesses that employ remote viewing?
Corporation, it's online at http://www.psitech.net/
What reactions have you had?
people are fascinated and excited by the work, especially the drawings,
but as I said above they often assume it's all a fiction. Other more
informed viewers have had really brilliant responses, particularly
David Barrett in Art Monthly where he wrote: "...not only a conspiracy
of meaning itself but also deliberately reveals itself to be so. It's
a smoke and mirror intellectual maze. HEXEN 2039 is a sustained fantasy
for the online age…Artistically it connects with the epic, paranoiac
sweep of Thomas Pynchon's novels, in particular Gravity's Rainbow,
which utilises some of the same historical references and shares Treister's
intention: to explore the limits of rationalism...Perhaps the project
should come with a health warning."
articles derived from the interview by Angelique van Engelen: