Untitled Consciousness Project

This participatory performance with interactive media was designed to encourage audiences to explore a collective altered state of consciousness. Inspired by rites of passage and initiation,  the event was set in an exploratorium that created shifts in the perception of self, space-time and reality.

The journey through the experience engineers an altered state of consciousness that mirrors a kind of postmodern vision quest. Visitors partake in a sequence of happenings exploring their inner landscape. The aim is to encourage a sense of awareness and agency that will reflect into daily life.

Upon arriving visitors are presented with a lanyard of tickets to eight private experiences within a central meditative performance. Artist Thomas Aquinas Maguire designed the tarot deck that served as visitor’s tickets.


Entropy – The central meditative performance

After entering the space, visitors are asked to travel blindfolded through a short maze. At the center of the maze is a meditative performance in an otherworldly landscape. The central performance lasts 4.5 hours. Visitors are invited to stay as long as they wish, but can only visit each private experience once.

I created a projection system that allowed a large image of the moon to travel the periphery of the space, using a clock motor, mirror and a video from the NASA archives. The video was a visualization of the moons phases for the year of the performance. It took one hour for the moon to complete a revolution of the room.


On Your Mind station

A private soundscape for two individuals.

In this station people were asked to imitate the sounds of a man and woman emoting (laughing, weeping, and feeling contentment). They were told that they did not have to feel the emotions, but only imitate them. This sought to engage the Self-Perception Theory, developed by psychologist Daryl Bem, encouraging participants to induce attitudes without accessing internal cognition and mood. #4 Changes in emotional expression as well as in some instances, #3 Fear of loss of control.
                  The heads were designed using Autodesk 123D Design and 123D Make, free software. The 3D CAD model of the 3-faced Head was output as PDF documents and cut out of cardboard on a Epilog Fusion M2 laser cutter at ResistorNYC. I inserted acoustic foam into the spaces in the frame and covered the head with two layers of papier-mâché and gesso to help to contain sound. After testing a very rudimentary prototype (a foam cylinder) with volunteers, I decided that it would be necessary to add a duct for air to the top of the head. This was a 4” diameter air tube with a basic fan at the far end. A future iteration of this head will have further papier-mâché to cover thin areas; an additional ring of acoustic foam inside the bottom of the helmet to further prevent sound from escaping around the neckline; and a tube of acoustic foam to be wrapped around 8-12” of the air duct close to the head. I feel that it is important that this station is experienced in a room with another person whom visitors are close enough to sense, but not hear. Perhaps a future iteration would have the two heads facing each other, but separated by a panel of clear Plexiglas, so that there is a sense of safe separation, but participants are confronted visually with one another upon completing the task.

The Merkwelt station

Merkwelt is a German term meaning “way of viewing the world” or “peculiar individual consciousness.” It’s a concept that describes a creature’s capacity to view things, manipulate information and make meaning out of the universe. In this station, an audience member is positioned in a small room face-to-face with an intelligent creature forced into a cage that is too small for its body. The Merkwelt asks its visitor to discuss mundane daily activities that invoke feelings about free will, the human condition, and social ideology. The station seeks to use a number of the ten elements of an altered state to further the state of visitor’s own consciousness: #3 Fear of loss of control, #7 Changes in meaning or significance and #8: The ineffable.

“A few people were aggressive. Kind of questioning what I was, and one guy even denied giving me water. I used the water bit when I wanted to introduce some fun, but that guy was like a pretentious asshole about everything. He was truly the only one. Conversations were largely about uncertainty, curiosity, fulfillment and peoples’ relationships to others. Often I gave my own feelings through the Merkvelt’s circumstances- like ‘I’m not sure what my beliefs are…’, ‘How can you say what you believe?’, ‘Is it still true once its been stated?’, ‘How can you outrun that phenomenon and be honest all the time.’ The greatest satisfaction came from facilitating peoples genuine consideration of their own feelings and current place in life. The experience made me feel people are mostly good. I don’t have many experiences like that exactly. “ – Eric Magnus, performer, Merkwelt 


The PASSAGE station

The passage is a miniature landscape that visitors are invited to walk through. There is no set path or designated place to set one’s feet. In fact, it includes obstacles, which can be trampled and destroyed, if the visitor is not careful.It is meant to provide a shift in body image – of being giant. It is meant to incite the feelings: #5 Changes in body image, #3 Fear of loss of control.




Collaborating Artists:

jason-stillJason Schuler is an interdisciplinary artist and Artistic Director of the award-winning Operating Theater Company.





patricia-stillPatrícia Faolli is an interdisciplinary artist originally from São Paolo, Brazil and part of the international performance art group Ajuntamento MeninasJoão.





magali-still-2Magali Wilensky is visual artist and sound therapist originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a co-owner of the Ome-chaye, art and wellness center in Miami Florida.




Click here for more about THE Untitled Consciousness Project

The artists are M.F.A. candidates in the Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) program at Brooklyn College: a cutting-edge graduate program in collaborative, experimental, multidisciplinary performing arts production. It brings together experienced professional artists from a wide range of backgrounds to collaboratively create performance that draws upon and hybridizes theater, performance art, dance, music, puppetry and new forms.   Artists in the program share an interest in digital media and technology.

The Oracle

The Oracle, an immersive living wax works, transformed The Brick, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, into an exhibition hall where artifacts and a series of live dioramas told the story of Iris Atalanta Lee. A historical figure from the first British Industrial Revolution, Lee was beheaded by the government for inciting a Luddite riot against the automation of stocking factories. After her publicly displayed head was stolen it traveled the world, purportedly sharing secrets from beyond the grave. Visitors were asked to determine for themselves whether this historic and Promethean oracle foretells the future.

Audiences were invited to engage in Iris’s life story through video, listening stations, interactive media displays, historic artifacts, and interactive, performed dioramas that looped continuously throughout the event. The Operating Theater is known for an inimitable phantasmagoric style, an astounding eye for detail, and a mischievous sense of humor and The Oracle brought to life an incredible world that went beyond ordinary science-fiction or fantasy to forecast an uncanny and incomparable prophecy of the future.

The Oracle was devised by a talented team of interdisciplinary artists: story and curation by Jason Schuler; managing director: Dori Ann Scagnelli; produced by Sandra Garner, Lingua Franca Arts; performances by Kourtney Rutherford, Ben Becher, Alessandro Magania, Estelle Lee, Christine Holt, and Ariel Whitfield; live dioramas written by Alison Folland, Eleanor Hutchins, Jennifer McKenna, Jason Schuler and Jon Leon Torn; artifacts & interactive installations created by Brittany Loesch, Ken Nintzel, Eva Peskin, Jason Schuler and Eva Von Schweinitz; videography, editing, & effects by Keith Chandler Jr.; exhibit design by Brittany Loesch; costumes by Jennifer Paar; technical advisors: Mike Taylor and Dr. Stelios Sidiroglou-Doukos. Poster Design by Jason Schuler.

This is the commercial that we made for a successful Kickstarter campaign. Performances by Jason Schuler and Kourtney Rutherford. Videography, editing and visual effects by Keith Chandler.

A video presented within the exhibit. It is a dramatization of Iris Lee’s encounter with Emperor Hirohito. Performances by Estelle Lee and Kourtney Rutherford. Written by Eleanor Hutchins, Directed by Jason Schuler.  Videography, editing and visual effects by Keith Chandler.


This is the poster for a follow up exhibit that the Metaverses team created at the Westbeth Gallery, NYC.

Artists Justine Williams, Jason Schuler, Vanessa Gilbert and Patricia Faolli collaborated in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Media Lab, exploring creative ways to use augmented-reality to tour the Museum’s collections.

Inspired by community-based social arts, the emerging artists collaborated with established older artists Paul Binnerts, Nancy Gabor, Stephen Hall, Penny Jones and Christina Maile, who have sustained artistic practices, living and working at the historic Westbeth Home to the Arts. The group calls the collaboration “Metaverses” – referring to the term for a shared virtual space.

The intergenerational collaboration between the artists resulted in the creation of original material to augment museum visitors’ experience of the Met’s collections with elements of time-based, visual and sound art, and digital media.

Augmented-Reality (AR) technology mediates sensory input, altering a participant’s perception of their physical environment. Technology also functions as the artists’ central collaborative tool, enhancing the exchange within the group as they create work in response to selected pieces in the Met’s galleries.

Augmented-Reality Tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
An Interactive Collaboration across Generations



Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), an organization that empowers older adults through technology, worked with the artists to share the group’s work with members of the population they serve through their programming. OATS seniors engaged in a hands-on art and technology workshop at their facility led by several of the artists and participated in the augmented-reality tour, experiencing the technology in tandem with younger audience members.

Collaborating Artists:

Justine Williams, interdisciplinary artist and performer interested in art as social practice and a faculty member at the Yale School of Drama.

Jason Schuler, director, designer, visual artist and performer; founder of  the award-winning Operating Theater Company.

Vanessa Gilbert, interdisciplinary artist and former Artistic Director of Perishable Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island.

Patrícia Faolli, multidisciplinary Brazilian artist and part of the international performance art group Ajuntamento Meninas João.

Paul Binnerts is an international theater director and writer whose work has been produced in The Netherlands, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Israel and US.

Nancy Gabor is a theater director who has worked internationally with Joseph Chaiken and Sam Shepard.

Stephen Hall is a painter whose recent work, featured in the New York Times, focuses on humans’ impact on the planet.

Penny Jones is a puppeteer who specializes in puppet performances for children and puppet ballets with live music for adults and children alike.

Christina Maile, recent recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and Joan Mitchell Foundation Studio grant, works as a visual artist reflecting her multicultural West Indian and Dayak background.

Supporting Institutions:

The Met’s Media Lab “…explores ways that new technology can affect the museum experience, in its galleries, classrooms, and online. As digitally mediated experiences play an ever-greater role in our lives, it’s important that museums—the great repositories of the world’s cultural expression—stay abreast of these developments,” states Don Undeen, then Senior Manager of Media Lab, Digital Media. “In parallel with the development of new tools for creative production is the rise of a culture of ‘hacking’ and ‘making’ a do-it-yourself ethos that believes it’s more fun to create than consume. Central to this culture is a spirit of sharing, with everyone building on the work that’s come before, passing knowledge to new generations.”

The PIMA program at Brooklyn College is a cutting-edge graduate program in collaborative, experimental, multidisciplinary performing arts production. It brings together experienced professional artists from a wide range of backgrounds to collaboratively create performance that draws upon and hybridizes theater, performance art, dance, music, puppetry and new forms. Artists in the program share an interest in digital media and technology.

Westbeth Artists’ Housing is the first and largest federally subsidized artists’ colony in the United States, opened in 1970 through funding by the National Endowment for the Arts and J.M. Kaplan Foundation. Artists of Westbeth range from emerging to well-established, representing a variety of disciplines and have all chosen the arts as their life’s work.

Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) is a nonprofit organization that provides training and support, online services, and community-building programs to empower older adults to thrive as individuals and members of society.


The Operating Theater’s production of Transatlantica was a re-envisioning of award-winning playwright Kenneth Finkle’s lunatic fable about the denial of death.

Transatlantica tells the story of Dr. Reginald Reinhold, whose session with an eccentric patient is interrupted by news that his wife is dying. By coincidence, the patient, too, is dying, as is every subsequent visitor to his home.

The setting is Dr. Reinhold’s lavish mansion on the shores of the fantastic continent of Transatlantica. In his parlor, festooned with mythical taxidermy, boldly flocked wallpaper and overflowing shelves, he is greeted by a parade of unusual guests including Udi Bohe, famed theater director, the enigmatic Inspector Stranjé, and the inimitable Jacques Jacques.

In a through-the-looking-glass land with elements of future-Victorian England, the production was a lavish spectacle of a topsy-turvey world where gardens are planted with cake and lovers grow into trees.

Dadaist and surreal, Transatlantica consciously walks the line between sharp wit and purposeful idiocy, a parlour room comedy is rich with earnest undertones.making us laugh at nonsense yet reflect upon it philosophically.

Transatlantica from Jason Schuler on Vimeo. Contact Jason@doctoredpictures.com for the password.

Video from the opening moments of Transatlantica, videography by Lauren Fritz.

Van Driver

Revolutionary, wordsmith, and world explorer, Waldo “Van” Driver spread his wisdom in the West Village as part of The Cherry Lane Theater’s Cherry Pit Late Nite series – a flashback to the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, Van Driver is a 1960’s style happening exploring life-altering experiences and the bohemian counter-culture.

Waldemer Driver, best known as “Van” was, in the early 1970s, a founder and leader of a spiritual commune in Pismo Beach known as the Starting Place, lead singer of the experimental psychedelic rock band, The People’s Liberation Bohemian Drum Orchestra, and an early creator of experimental performance art.

Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Driver was a highly-decorated Marine veteran and martial arts expert by his 20s. After moving to California to become a Hollywood actor, he was heavily influenced by the L.A. beatnik scene and began to live a natural lifestyle, maintaining a vegan diet and “living according to Nature’s Laws.” Driver studied philosophy, religion, and esoteric spiritual teachings, even becoming a Vedantic monk for a time.

In 1969, Van founded the wildly popular Scrum Juice Garage on the Sunset Strip. The “Garage” served organic vegan food, and Scrum, a green ‘super juice’, to such celebrity regulars as George Harrison, Sammy Davis Jr., and Marlon Brando.

In the early 1970’s, Waldermar fused his own experiences with his Eastern religions and Waldo Driver evolved into Van Driver, the patriarch to a group of young people devoted to his teachings and philosophies. The group, supported by the earnings of the Scrum Garage (which often grossed $10,000 a day during its peak popularity), became the Spiritual Mechanics, a collection of over a hundred men and women living together in a commune outside of Pismo Beach.

The philosophies of the ‘Mechanics’ have been kept secret by its members; however, they generally adopted a way of life that promoted, among other things, natural living and dying.

img_0424***SPOILER ALERT – continue reading to ruin your experience:

Disguised as the play “Why Won’t You Pick Up Our Garbage,” Van Driver and his
 outlandish family of hippy hitchhikers are the brainchild of…

Jason Schuler and his acting troupe, The Operating Theater Company. “The main idea of the piece is to break down the fifth wall; the fourth wall being between the performers and audience, and the fifth being between the audience and the rest of the world.” They accomplish this feat by involving the audience in rites and rituals and continuing the performance even as they leave the theater, audience in tow. The show originally performed at the Cherry Pit Late Nite series in The Cherry Lane’s Studio Theater for a single weekend in, but was so popular with audiences, that the group has reprised the production with new material and the support of the Cherry Lane. This is their third reprise of the popular event.

Take a magic carpet ride with Van Driver! ~a living museum, a 1960s style happening, and a character driven narrative created as a site-specific performance event.

This production is made possible courtesy of Cherry Lane Theatre, Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director.

Why Won’t You Pick Up OUR Garbage from Jason Schuler on Vimeo.

Van Driver Promo from Jason Schuler on Vimeo.



Have you ever wondered about the nature of reality, the source of morality, and the paradox of human experience? Join the creators of Are You ALIVE?! for a journey into the mind and back again! Participate in a game show to win fabulous prizes, question your very existence, and face the challenge of a lifetime… Are You ALIVE?! is a metaphysical extravaganza exploring belief systems, existentialism, and our fascination with the unknown.

Told in using theatrics, dance and audience participation, Are You ALIVE?! is a game show and a character driven narrative created for site-specific performance events.

Do you Believe? What do you Believe? Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in God? That man walked on the moon? That E=mc2?

Are You ALIVE?! from Jason Schuler on Vimeo.

The Garden of Forked Tongues

Garden of Forked Tongues Teaser from Jason Schuler on Vimeo.

The Garden of Forked Tongues, is a mixed media, sci-fi, comedy adventure, following ordinary people who become involved with a tour group from another dimension. It is a journey to all corners of the universe, and to vast, unknown horizons in the mind.

Time is an illusive fixture in our lives. We cannot see it or touch it, but it controls our every action. We are always in the present, though our thoughts and emotions are often entangled with phantoms of the future or ghosts of the past. The Garden of Forked Tongues explores these ideas and other notions of time-space, parallel universes, and strange loops.

The audience, viewed the events as part of a tour group observing a tour group. A certified hypnotherapist, Jacqueline LeClaire, assisted the entire audience in entering a alternate state of reality at the beginning of the performance in order to guide them in traveling through space-time along with the characters.

The cast included the talents of Mr. Keith Chandler, Mr. Tim Donovan Jr., Mr. Adam Hyland, Ms. Jacqueline LeClaire, Mr. James Rich, Ms. Elizabeth Stine, and Mr. Harry Meatbahl.

This segment from The Garden of Forked Tongues includes two scenes. The first concerns insurance agents from another dimension confronting personal issues. The second shows an ordinary man being kidnapped by an alien creature. The scene ends with an extraordinary man making a connection between the alien and audience. This piece was an exploration of quantum mechanics, parallel universes and paradox. All the characters represent one hypothetical being – the audience. It is important to note that the audience views the piece as part of a tour group, watching the story of a tour group who may be the audience. They are lead by a certified hypnotherapist who hypnotizes them in order to believe they are actually traveling through space-time with the characters. The clip illustrates our mixing of traditional and non-traditional methods of storytelling.

This is one of the tour groups that visit the theater during the performance. They are projected into the upstage doorway.

Maraschino Autopsy Report

A performance art piece by Andrea Lauer and Jason Schuler titled, Maraschino Autopsy Report, presented in Red Hook Brooklyn comments on public incidents surrounding to a local cherry factory and how the events relate to the changing landscape of the neighborhood.

The event took place during a musical performance in the back yard of a neighbor whose property abutted the factory. Red yarn strung from the factory marked  a circle in the grass. At the end of each string, a jar of cherries had been buried in the Earth. The jars were exhumed one by one and the cherries baked into pies for the guests to eat. Each pie had a letter “baked into it”. The letters were combined by participants on an overhead projector to spell out a surprise message.

The cherry jars were refilled with personal artifacts owned by Pat Murano, the resident who hosted the performance. Each jar was reburied in the Earth for future residents to uncover.  The performance was a ritual memorial for the factory owner and the neighborhood.

The video below was projected with a pico projector onto the wall of the factory in order to give the impression of a flashlight shining an x-ray beam inside to reveal its secrets.

Maraschino X-ray from Jason Schuler on Vimeo.



In the London Times classified section, a British family is advertising the rental of a cozy bedroom within their spacious flat.

Once a week applicants are invited into the home to be interviewed and the chosen tenant mysteriously disappears – perhaps because their eldest daughter is a closet sociopath or because their youngest son is a portal to another dimension.

Extraordinary events are everyday in this satirical homage to the best of British TV. FLAT brings together the talents of ten actors and eleven writers to present twelve episodes of this trans-media sitcom back-to-back in one hour.

Inspired by the exploits of the British Broadcasting Corporation and similar lowly budgeted productions.