Ravenscrag.0.1 [2022]

This VR and Desktop app focusses on the Allan Psychiatric Institute in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal.

The project is, in one sense, an exploration of a hybrid and liminal space that speaks to the architectures psychogeographic importance in the dark legacy/history of CIA, State-sanctioned experimentation with psychic manipulation techniques, which took place between 1957 and 1973 and were led by Dr. Ewen Cameron. This project, which had as its aim the erasure and then reprogramming of consciousness itself, took place in the many small rooms and warrens within the rambling Victorian mansion known colloquially (beginning in the 19th century) as “Ravenscrag” (although the grounds and some remnants of a building date to the 18th. century).

The experimentation conducted within the framework of the “MKUltra Subproject-68” may have also included using First Nations peoples and children as test subjects and there may be an unacknowledged cemetery on the grounds with some of these victims of this project. The parallels between the notion of Cameron’s “de-patterning”, erasure and “re-programming” and the colonial-settler ethos of enacting the same via governmental institutions and residential schools, is a damning indictment of these co-dependant practices. These activities continue to reverberate today in terms of not only intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, but also within contemporaneous interrogation practices such as those exposed during the Abu-Ghraib revelations.

The work also operates as a rumination on the role of imaging itself as a mutable form of recording, subject to some of the similar (metaphorical or otherwise) forces of external influencing of the primary “dataset”, writ large.

The project consists of 8 "scenes" or levels, with 8 accompanying spatialized audio tracks which I created out of in-situ recordings in the spaces themselves. These tracks' stems (the individual parts of a multi-track audio file) are all separated into their constituent parts and spatially arranged so that the entire track is experienced immersively as you navigate the spaces.
The particles are all rendered in real time and are responsive to the frequencies in the audio.

The above video documentation is an excerpted walk-through of the desktop app which you navigate using an Xbox controller. The VR version is experienced via a Meta Quest headset.
There are two versions of this work to accommodate two possible exhibition scenarios. The desktop version is best suited for projections, monitors, domes, and facades, while the VR version is ideal for individual experiences.

Software development - Elie Zananiri
Photogrammetry/Point Cloud Renders - Hugues Bruyère
Access and Consultation - Dr. Kia Faridi