On 29th August 2015 we will hold a seance to contact the spirits of Jeffrey Vallance and Ch Cummings, both artists based in the USA. The preparation for this seance is documented in the earlier post here.
This experiment follows from an earlier seance-experiment, Experimental Seance I. There's more details of the context there. Briefly, I was interested in some attempts, primarily in the 1970's, to use the seance format to contact a fictional entity. A group of Canadian researchers, led by George and Iris Owen, developed a character, Philip, and then used the seance to communicate with him. In our previous experiment we first devised a number of characters then, selecting one (Vax from Vladivostock), used the ouija board and planchette, together with other methods, to contact him. During the course of this work, one of the group suggested it might be interesting to try and contact spirits of living people. Thus was Experimental Seance II born.
Jeffrey Vallance is an artist based in Los Angeles. His work is wide-ranging and diverse, and he has a long-standing interest in the paranorma, including using mediums to channel dead artists. Ch Cummings is also based in the USA, has made channeled paintings and drawings with pencils brushes attached to an Ouija board.
Structure / organisation:
The location was JM's house, in Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK, August 29th 2015.
All the artists who took part in Experimental Seance I have been invited to attend (JH, DI, NM, MR).
A room was selected for the seance, and was prepared with a table, ouija paraphenalia (planchette, letters), artwork tributes to the two artists, artwork from the preparation session held earlier, ad hoc artworks and decoartions. A set of questions were mounted on card (text of some below). The artwork was be video-recorded using camera phone.
Video footage of the room before the seance
Residue (drawings etc) were archived
Questions which were be asked of the spirits:
From Jeffrey Vallance
- Can you describe your art?
- Please tell us about the psychics in your family.
- Please tell us about your pet chicken.
- Can you tell us about the famous artists that you had channeled?
- Can you give us some information that will help us prosper as artists?
- Can you see us? What are we doing?
- What do you think of the UK?
- Where are you and what is it like?
- Have you any messages for us as individuals?
- What is your most important art work?
- What is the one message you are hoping to convey in your art work?
Additional questions were written and asked during the second half of the seance
Took place for 2 hours (approx) during the afternoon of August 29th 2015.
The camera, which was recording both audio and video, switched itself off after 33 minutes. This hasn’t happened before, but the spirits are capricious. Hence the following is in 2 parts.
The transcript has been edited to focus on the spirit communications. The spirits communicated by moving a planchette on the table, at the edge of which was placed letters of the alphabet plus ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Spirit communications are in bold. The questions from the cards, asked of the spirits during the séance, are also in bold. Questions which weren’t written on cards are in normal case.
I think it’s fair to say the spirits were coy. There was quite a bit of ‘noise’ (series of seemingly meaningless letters) and they tended to say ‘NO’ and ‘GOODBYE’ quite a bit. Sometimes they seemed to be playing around and not taking our questions seriously. Perhaps they wondered if we weren’t being serious enough. MR explained once that that is the English way.
Transcript Part 1
JM: OK. We are here, exactly one year since we started (oh, can someone close the door)
JH: Are you videoing?
NM: Are we allowed to show drinks
JM: Probably best not to but it doesn’t really matter… OK ladies and gentlemen we’re here exactly one year since we started Experimental Séance I, for Experimental Séance II, in which we are going to contact the spirits of two living artists, Jeffrey Vallance and Christian Cummings, both of whom work you see depicted on the cards suspended on lolly sticks around the table, which cards on lollysticks will become dislodged during the séance. We’ll be asking a series of questions, on the cards in the middle, of the spirits, so we ask only that anybody who comes to talk to us today does so only in a kind, gentle and loving spirit. Let the séancing begin.
JM: Right. So. Do whatever it takes to.. no we don’t need that yet, pen on the table. (mumbles). Fingers on this. If you knock over a card, remove it and put it on the floor.
JM: OK. We are hoping to speak to either Jeffrey Vallance or / and Christoper (sic) Cummings, both of the United States of America. Are either or both of you guys here with us today?
JM: Oh, OK.
JH: Who is there?
JM: Good question – who is there?
JM: As you knock them over take them out. Yeah, move those.. we’ll need them very soon (indistinct whispering) OK we have an ‘N’. We’re speaking to N? What’s the next letter of your name?
JM: Hello, hello
JM: When things have been knocked over can we remove?
Spirit: N, O, ‘NO’.
JM: Hello No
Spirit: N O R E N
JM: Don’t second guess the spirit
Spirit: N O R I N Q
JM: Might be … Noreen…?
Spirit: Q L S E
MR: Are you speaking English?
JM: Spirits we’d really like to speak to… the spirits of the living artists Jeffrey Vallance and Christian Cummings. Yes, ok thank you. Can you put us in touch
Spirits: L Z
JM: L Z R
Spirit: A Z R A U ‘GOODBYE’
(here, a short pause)
JM: Shall we take a second to reassemble the circle, and maybe ask some questions from the question cards? Would anyone like to pick one at random?
MR: Why not put them at a place in the circle, so the spirit can choose a question?
JM: Good, nice.
JM: Right spirits. Can you tell us about the famous artists that you have channelled? That’s a question for Jeffrey
NM: didn’t like the question
JH: Can we have another question?
DI: Would you like another question?
JM: Right, what’s the next one? Can you give us some information that will help us prosper as artists?
DI: Give up?
NM: Be ambitious
JM: Why not? Is there a reason why you can’t help us prosper as artists?
Spirit: D E A D
NM: He’s dead so he can’t hand out advice?
JM: he’s not dead! You are not dead, you are alive
MR: He’s saying you aren’t dead so you can’t prosper as an artist
JH: So the only prosperous artists are dead ones
MR: How to prosper is to die.
JM: Please tell us about the psychics in your family. This is a question for Jeffrey
NM: Unless he thinks that’s a 2?
Spirit: Z E P A M A N B L B S
MR: New question?
JM: OK. We are going to get through the questions at a hellish rate…
NM: The line’s probably a bit crackly from America
(MR & DI talking about what the letters mean)
JM: It might make more sense when we write it down afterwards
JM: This is another one for Jeffrey Vallance’s spirit. Can you describe your art?
Spirit: X L V G
MR: Excellent, very good?
JM: Do you mean ‘excellent, very good’
NM: Well, best not to have false modesty!
Spirit asks for another question
JM: Another Jeffrey question - What is your most important art work?
Spirit: Y L B L C. ‘GOODBYE’
MR: Is that the name of an art work?
DI: Ask the question again
MR: I have
JH: Jeffrey are you there?
DI: Jeffrey is that the name of an artwork?
JH: Is there anybody there?
NM: Maybe someone else?
JM: Is there anyone there?
JM: 5 minutes to give everyone a chance to..
MR: He might have gone to the toilet?
DI: He’s alive
MR: Thank you
JM: And who is
MR: Wrong number
DI: Have we given up on Chris?
JM: No, let’s ask for Chris again. Are you there Chris? Are you there Chris?
Spirit: U F R D O B T C ‘YES’
JM: That sounded a bit like an insult
Spirit picks ‘question’.
JM: What do you think of the UK?
JM: That’s positive?
Spirit: U F T F U
JM: FU – that’s not very nice
Spirit: F U F U F U
JM: so you don’t like the UK that much?
MR: FU FU FU I think it was
NM: Pretty much
MR: I think they might think we are taking the mickey?
NM: are they prepped to be ready?
MR: Spirits generally, not the artists
JM: Well, er I think the spirits like an atmosphere of fun and vitality
NM: So we are contacting their spirits without them being aware of it
MR: Are they contacting us without us being aware of it?
JM: We’ve got a lot more questions to go
JM: Is there something you’d like to tell us about yourself, that will help us recognise us, or that will help your live self in America recognise you?
JM: OK, what’s the thing?
Spirit: T E L A V I V
JM: OK so perhaps Tel Aviv means something to either Chris or Jeffrey
NM: It means a city doesn’t it
JH: Is Tel Aviv special to you?
JM: Why is Tel Aviv special?
Spirit: A N A L
Spirit: D V D
JM: Anal DVD
DI: ‘anal DVD’ might be ‘An al’. What’s an ‘An al’
MR: I think it might be ‘analysis’ or something
JM: Is it the city Tel Aviv?
JM: And did you really mean ‘Anal DVD’
Spirit: L O L
JH: Me thinks the spirits are playing
JM: Do we have another question? What is the one message you are hoping to convey in your artwork?
NM: just wants to say hello
Spirit: ‘HELLO’ U F P B T D B O
JM: that’s quite a complicated and difficult to understand message. I don’t want to second guess you, but are you saying that you can’t put the meaning of your work into simple one dimensional sentences?
Spirit doesn’t answer
MR: did we get your message right?
JM: Did you not like the question
MR: would you like another question
JM: Have you any messages for us as individuals?
MR: Did you swear at us earlier, or was that someone else?
JH: Is that Jeffrey?
JM: Or Chris
MR: Done it again
JM: I think it’s Chris, isn’t it?
MR: OK Chris
JM: Do you want to tell us something about your work?
JH: Do you like the picture that NM drew of you Jeffrey?
JM: It’s Chris!
MR: What’s your favourite picture around the table?
Spirit indicates one drawn by NM
MR: Does it look like you?
JM: is it more like your soul or your body? Body?
MR: Was the picture earlier a picture of your soul?
Spirit: C P Y
JM: CPY – copy?
Spirit: P B S D O Z
DI: Another question? He hasn’t actually answered that one – or has he? Maybe ask another question
NM: Are you going to vote Republican or Democrat?
JM: How can he?
Spirit: Z A V
JM: Another question. Please tell us about your pet chicken
JM: Why not?
JH: Do you have a pet chicken?
DI: Did they have a pet chicken or was that just a random question?
JM: It’s not for me to say
JM: Are we talking to Jeffrey?
Spirit: Y C T E A T
JH: Why see TEAT?
DI: Nicholas is trying to avoid eye contact with the teats! (referring to JMs costume)
(some discussion of the costume)
JM: Stop it. Keep it CLEAN.
Spirit: ‘YES’, ‘YES’, ‘YES’, ‘YES’, ‘YES’,
JM: Shall we have another question. Can you see us? (repeated 3 times)
JM: What are we doing
Spirit: C A R D S
JH: We are doing cards
JH: last question?
JM: Yes Where are you and what is it like?
CAMERA STOPS RECORDING HERE
Transcript Part 2
(In the meantime we have written a new set of questions on the back of the original question cards)
JM: Shall we reconvene and ask Chris and Jeffrey some more questions. Chris, Jeffrey are you there?
JM: Jeffrey, Chris, are you there? Can we ask you some more questions? What keeps you awake at night?
Spirit: A N A L D V D
JM: What’s your guiltiest secret?
Spirit: A N A L D V D
JM: What’s your favourite smell?
Spirit: H A P D O G
MR: Happy Dog?
JM: Oh that’s nice
Spirit: A N A
(some discussion of whether the spirit is saying ‘happy dog anal’)
JM: What’s your favourite letter of the alphabet?
JM: OK is / was this Chris or Jeffrey
JM: OK so Z is Chris’s favourite. What’s your favourite letter of the alphabet, Jeffrey?
JM: (reading the card NM has done) No! What is your favourite sexual position?
Spirit: A N A L
JM: Moving quickly on. What’s your favourite musical artist?
Spirit: B O B G E L D O R F
(some discussion of the extra ‘R’)
JH: Well that’s a surprise
JM What’s your next artwork
Spirit A N AL Z O A L A
JM: You mean like the writer Zola? Anal Zola?
JH: Is this a joke – you put the name Anal in front of everything?
JM: Do you mean your work is something to do with Emil Zola?
JM: Tell us about your chicken
Spirit: N Z M
MR: Are you speaking emoji? text speak?
MR: Have you ever heard of a pop group called Indians in Moscow?
JM: What do you think about them?
Spirit: D R A P
NM: D could be C – could be crap, yes.
MR: That’s alright – they wrote songs about chickens, that’s all.
JM: Have you heard of a pop group, The Frank Chickens?
MR: What do you think of them?
Spirit: C R D P
MR: Drip or Drop or Crap?
MR: Was it Drip?
MR: Was it Drop?
MR: was it Crap?
JM: Ah. But you like Bob Geldof, right?
DI: What’s your favourite Bob Geldof song?
Spirit: B A N A N A R E
MR: Is it Banana Republic?
MR: It’s really good. I bought it when I was 10, 11, 12
Spirit: S O
JM: Are we helpless?
JM: Are you helpless?
JM: Are we hopeless?
JM: Are you hopeless?
JM: Please tell us a secret about someone else but don’t tell us who
(some discussion of what this means)
Spirit: R E Y N A N A O A R D R D G W M D S A R B R E R E R A
MR: Someone’s cold
Spirit: R U W W Y
At this point the communication session was terminated, and the group used the planchette for automatic drawing