PASTlives reveals the personal histories of a troubled soul through visual and aural documentation of vintage hypnotherapy sessions.
PASTlives reveals the personal histories of a troubled soul through visual and aural documentation of vintage hypnotherapy sessions. Read more
PASTlives is a project I initiated back in 2004. With aims at uncovering answers to some of life’s great mysteries, the multimedia undertaking reveals past histories that may - or may not - have existed through the use of photography, film and recorded "past life regression" hypnotism sessions.
Many have heard of “love at first sight,” the overused phrase that is often the basis of so many fairy-tale “rom-com” movies. What many do not realize is that the concept has found supporters in a most unlikely place, the religious and metaphysical quagmire that is “reincarnation.” For followers of this doctrine, “love at first sight” is simply the byproduct of karmic ramifications that follow a soul from one life to the next.
About a decade or so back, and in response to childhood questions that I’d never been successful in answering up until that point, I began researching reincarnation and "past lives.” Even in those early studies, it became apparent that I was less interested in the emotional aspects of a life that may be imprinted onto a soul, and more on the aesthetic elements of a specific time and place experienced. In other words, why was I so intrinsically attached to certain cultures of places I had never been to – at least not in this lifetime - when others with equal historical significance or impressive beauty held absolutely no interest?
It was with these questions, that I set out to pay homage to the handful of places and cultures that have consistently provided me with artistic inspiration throughout the years. And while I have since had the opportunity to visit many of these locations, the question still remains... Had my soul actually endured 13th century Cambodia, or experienced life on the wild side of “Weimar Berlin?” Who knows?
I haven’t actually subjected myself to Past Life Regression hypnotherapy yet, and even if I did, I'm not entirely sure I would believe in its results. For me, it has been a more interesting challenge to create my own “PASTlives,” one after another in chronological order, impregnating them with the quirks and attributes from my current life that seem to have no basis for their existence.
To that end, I have collaborated with a number of colleagues over the years to bring my “PASTlives” series to life. The stage is initially set in the New Age community of the 1970s American Southwest, a tribute to Dick Sutphen, the Arizona author of the 1976 book that initially inspired the project. In hopes of finding answers to why he is failing in his vocation, and at home with his wife, our main character “Bruce” enlists the help of Past Life Regression master "Dr. Zazio." Through their documented work, it is revealed that Bruce has lived previously as: a spiritual caretaker of abandoned Khmer temples in 13th century Cambodia, a spoiled, hedonistic bon-vivant of Fin de siècle Paris, and as a cross-dressing cabaret performer who escapes the Nazi overhaul of Weimar Berlin only to land in the Surrealist Art scene of 1940’s Mexico City where he reinvents himself as a photographer!
In a twist, Dr. Zazio also uncovers a “FUTURElife” for Bruce in Reykjavik, Iceland. As a lonely seaside loner who resides in a post-apocalyptic society that undervalues creativity, "the hermit" is virtually trapped in his small abode by his unbridled passions for art, music and the written word.
Ultimately, I envision PASTlives as a multimedia gallery installation that blends together a handful of photographs from each of the six completed photoshoots with a slide presentation of 80 (or so) “out-takes.” The slides will be projected from a “vintage” carousel. To accompany the images, cassette tape recordings, and a short Super8 film, from the “original 1970s PLR sessions between Dr. Zazio and Bruce" will be run on a loop. (A sampling of mood music from each of the cultures/ time periods will also be incorporated.) And if that was not enough, relics from Bruce’s own life will also be on display. The “artifacts” include a number of Polaroids, and index cards from a Rolodex that organize the facts, musings, and obsessions from a life not fully lived “in the present.”
While none of the media will necessarily be presented in any particular order, it is hoped the traces from each of the PAST – and FUTURE – lives will reveal themselves to the observer in uniquely relatable ways.
The project is already nearing its final stages, with all six photoshoots realized. Funding for PASTlives is still required however to complete final aspects of documentation and exhibiting. This includes enlargement of prints, creation of slides, purchase of carousel/ projector, editing of short film, recording/ editing of audio components ("PLR sessions"), promotional materials and most importantly, the design and publishing of the official PASTlives art book (full color; 60+ pages).
Shot on location:
Box Canyon/ Burbank/ Los Angeles (USA)
New York City (USA)
Uli - Sara Achilli
Karl - Richmond Burton
Shara - Michele Chinichian
Graca - Audrey Feidler
Mme. Caroline - Louise Fulton
Tina - Arjeta Gashi
Marlene - Brigid Kelly
Anne - Samantha Levin
Leonora - Julie Masi
Dr. Zazio - Douglas Stoddard
Hermine - Toni Suppa
Francis - Alexander Symcox
Abbe - Diana Taylor
Remedios - Melanie Vaget
Bruce (et. al.) - Brady Walters
Heinz - Frank Weldon
Hair & Make-Up:
Doris & Porter Vaughan
- (23 days)