iamatease

IamAtEase is the second electroacoustic piece I have composed as part of a series of compositions under theme of Disintegrating Consciousness. It was inspired by the experiments conducted by Dr Ewen Cameron in the mid 20th century. 

 

Cameron was the head of both the American and Canadian Psychiatric Association and his theory of psychic driving, hypothesised that mental conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety and depression were as a result of forgotten or suppressed memories. He was given funding through the CIA to conduct experiments in Montreal between 1957 and 1964. His experiments were an attempt to remove these suppressed memories from his patients completely. By erasing their memories, or “de-patterning the subjects”, Cameron felt that he could erase their past and therefore begin constructing a new, psychologically healthy individual.

 

Using a mixture of psychoactive and paralytic drugs, as well as electroconvulsive therapy, he would induce subjects into comas that often lasted for weeks. These cruel attempts at brainwashing led to patients, who initially may have had only minor psychological conditions, to experience severe memory loss. This amnesia included forgetting their identity, forgetting who their parents were, and forgetting how to form simple sentences.

 

During the time that the patients were induced into comas, Cameron would play loops of noise and repetitive phrases from tape machines placed under the patient’s pillows in an effort to reprogram their brains in, what he deemed, a more positive way.

 

Needless to say, these experiments did not yield the results that Cameron had expected and in fact they were all complete failures. The only thing that he accomplished during this entire time was to brutally torture all of the people under his care. All the subjects of these experiments experienced severe memory loss and almost none had any recollection of their time spent in the hospital whatsoever. The only thing that all the patients could remember from the horrific experience was one of the phrases that Cameron played under their pillows on repeat; I am at ease with myself.

 

This phrase, recited once, is the sole source of sonic material in this composition. The phrase is broken down into individual particles through a mixture of spectral processing and granular techniques, in order to create a disintegrated representation of the original words.

 

Composed in 2017.