Planet Glasgow

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The Independent Culture
Modern science has never been so boring. Hardly a day goes by without some earth-shattering revelation about a gas formation millions of light years away, or the discovery of the gene responsible for yawning during physics lessons. The information hurtles in and out of our heads; we try to understand, fail, nod politely, nod off. We are awoken by a different kind of science - the alien-stole-my-homework variety so beloved of that sinisterly popular paean to paranoia, The X Files. The Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow has wised up to this craving for the inexplicable. Having captured the public imagination with its current weird science season "Phenomenal", the centre is now harnessing it for its own peculiar end in "Forbidden Science".

Over the next few days, a group of "artists, investigators and philosophers" will present dark offerings from the scientific counter-culture. Jeff Harrington is flying in from New York to do some psychic zapping, a meditative technique by which he says he can affect the behaviour of people on television. Tony Bassett, from Camden, will use the electrical pulses of the Lahkovsky Box to generate out-of-body experiences. And David Percy, homeland unknown, will share thoughts on the reality of UFOs (extra-dimensional and powered by consciousness energy, apparently). One of the biggest gravitational pulls will be Armen Victorian, from Hull, who will lecture on psychtronics and the use by the military of "clairvoyant" remote viewing techniques (ie Mystic Meg).

But it will no doubt be the Austrian Just Merit's interactive psychic- displacement machines that will arouse the greatest scientific curiosity. Merit's long-term aim is to create a machine that simulates male/female sexual experience, thus taking the experiments of Wilhelm Reich (the Orgone Accumulator) and Woody Allen (the Orgasmatron) to their logical conclusion. By having an artistic context for the work, the group is free to express itself without fear of being abducted and to debate what it is to be human. At least that's the line given by curator Rob Le Frenais. "The UFO is a jumping-off point, enabling us to put forward more radical explanations about existence. That some people believe there could even be a DNA civilisation trying to talk to us indicates just how much imagination needs to be exercised." His voice sounds calm: "This isn't just a bunch of cranks pushing their lunatic vision." Yes, but that's exactly what they want us to think, isn't it?

DOMINIC CAVENDISH

CCA, Sauchiehall St, Glasgow (0141-332 7521) to Sun, pounds 10/pounds 4

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