Category Archives: Ong’s Hat

133 — Joseph Matheny Interview: Ong’s Hat & The Alchemy of Alternative Realities
A great conversation I had with the guys from The Long Seventies Podcast Show page:

VYS0036 | Infinite Game – Vayse to Face with Joseph Matheny

vayse podcast

Show link

Some rare art transcends reality, some even rarer art seems to create a new reality altogether – the work of Joseph Matheny does both of these things while embracing the trickster spirit inherent in the magickal traditions in which his work has its roots.

Joseph talks to Hine and Buckley about Ong’s Hat, his “living book” project, widely recognised as the first Alternate Reality Game, and how it took on a life of it’s own, not only for the people who were playing it but also for the people who created it. The conversation also turns to synchronicity and how his recent work, the Liminal Cycle, seems to generate synchronicity in the lives of those who engage with it, how his work connects so closely to magick, nature and theatre, his experiences in the North Pole and how they affected his writing, the use of magic in political systems and how the internet we know and love (to hate) today retains the legacy of the ritual magicians and DnD enthusiasts who created it… (recorded 7 February 2024)

Thanks to Joseph for his time and thanks, as always, to Keith for the excellent show notes, you can hit him up on on bluesky:

Joseph Matheny online

Official Archive of the Ong’s Hat Project
Ong’s Hat website
YouTube channel
Goodreads page
IMDb page

Hine and Buckley’s Intro

Neuralink – Wikipedia
Elon Musk says Neuralink has implanted its first brain chip in human – The Guardian
True Detective (Season 1) – Wikipedia
Ong’s Hat – Wikipedia
Ong’s Hat: The Beginning (Authorized Version) by Joseph Matheny (Audiobook) – Soundcloud
Ong’s Hat: The Beginning (Authorized Version) by Joseph Matheny – Goodreads
Alternate reality game (ARG) – Wikipedia
QAnon – Wikipedia
January 6 United States Capitol attack – Wikipedia
Pizzagate conspiracy theory – Wikipedia
Gamification in Politics: how does it influence Political Participation? by Elena Giordano – Medium
Liminal (The Liminal Cycle) by Cameron Whiteside (Joseph Matheny) – Goodreads
Xen: The Zen of the Other (The Liminal Cycle) by Ezra Buckley (Joseph Matheny) – Goodreads
Statio Numero (The Liminal Cycle) by Joseph Matheny, Jason Nunes (Illustrator) – Goodreads

Joseph’s early background in tech

Early Personal Computers, 1970s-1980s – Museums Victoria
Technology that changed us: The 1980s, from MS-DOS to the first GPS satellite – ZDNET
Berkeley Macintosh User Group – Wikipedia
Steve Wozniak – Wikipedia
ARPANET – Wikipedia
Dial-up Internet access – Wikipedia
Bulletin board system – Wikipedia
Email – Wikipedia
The History of Email: Digging Into the Past, Present, and Future – Email On Acid
Pony Express – Wikipedia

Joseph’s epiphany

High Frontiers magazine – Anarchivism
High Frontiers Issue #1 –
Modem – Wikipedia
The WELL – Wikipedia
Dialer – Wikipedia
Apple Inc. – Wikipedia
Silicon Valley: How a Bunch of Hippies Changed the World – Techovedas

Joseph’s ‘living book’ art project

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Wikipedia
Ceremonial magic – Wikipedia
Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) – Wikipedia
The worlds of technology and magic are closer than you think – Dazed
Swiss Army knife – Wikipedia
This is Not the End of the Book by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière – Goodreads
Nick Herbert (physicist) – Wikipedia
Bulletin board system (BBS) – Wikipedia
How Psychedelics Helped Shape Modern Technology – Psychedelic Spotlight
Mycelium – Wikipedia

Magic is theatre; theatre is magic

Live action role-playing gamer (LARP) – Wikipedia
Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) – Wikipedia
Rimbaud’s Systematic Derangement of the Senses – Language is a Virus
Arthur Rimbaud – Wikipedia
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – Wikipedia
John Dee – Wikipedia
Enochian magic – Wikipedia
Enochian (language) – Wikipedia
Watchtower (magic) – Wikipedia
Scrying – Wikipedia
“Spirit mirror” used by 16th-century occultist John Dee came from the Aztec Empire – Live Science
What Do The Angels From The Bible Actually Look Like? – All That’s Interesting
Ezekiel – Wikipedia
Yahweh – Wikipedia
J. Z. Knight / Ramtha – Wikipedia

Would there be magic without humans?

Jacques Vallée – Wikipedia
Daemon (computing) – Wikipedia
Httpd – Wikipedia
Unix – Wikipedia
Linux – Wikipedia
Invocation – Wikipedia
Evocation – Wikipedia
Function (computer programming) – Wikipedia
Magical Code and Coded Magic: The Persistence of Occult Ideas in Modern Gaming and Computing
Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers by Jacques F. Vallée – Goodreads
Martin Shaw website: books
Wolf Milk: Chthonic Memory in the Deep Wild by Martin Shaw – Goodreads
Devon – Wikipedia
William S. Burroughs – Wikipedia
Brion Gysin – Wikipedia
Cut-up technique – Wikipedia
Cut ups –
The Third Mind – Wikipedia
The Third Mind by William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin – Goodreads
Simonton’s Famous Flying Flapjacks, Just Another Tin Foil Hat – YouTube
The Eagle River Incident – UFO Insight
Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati – Wikipedia
Buckwheat – Wikipedia
The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen – Goodreads
Peripheral vision – Wikipedia

Joseph’s thoughts on, and experiences of, synchronicity

Synchronicity – Wikipedia
Collective unconscious – Wikipedia
Psychic staring effect – Wikipedia
Grimoire – Wikipedia
Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic by Aidan Wachter – Goodreads
Everything You Need to Know about Salmon Fishing in Alaska – Katmai Fishing Guides
Sockeye salmon – Wikipedia
Naknek, Alaska – Wikipedia
Contiguous United States (‘The lower 48’) – Wikipedia
Jack London – Wikipedia
Arctic circle – Wikipedia
Arctic methane emissions – Wikipedia
‘Squirt the bird’ – Wordspy
True Detective: Night Country (Season 4) – Wikipedia
True Detective (Season 2) – Wikipedia
Watchmen (TV series) – Wikipedia
Rust Cohle – Wikipedia
Thomas Ligotti – Wikipedia
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race – Wikipedia
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror by Thomas Ligotti – Goodreads
The magnetic field near the Arctic is acting weird – The Verge
Climate change is rapidly transforming the Arctic: Why everybody should care – The Hill
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles – Wikipedia

We are nature

Big Sur – Wikipedia
Santa Cruz, California – Wikipedia
Central Coast (California) – Wikipedia
Sequoioideae (Redwood) – Wikipedia
Jack Kerouac – Wikipedia
Big Sur (novel) – Wikipedia
Henry Miller – Wikipedia
Esalen Institute – Wikipedia
Robert Anton Wilson – Wikipedia
‘Dark Watchers’ have been spooking California hikers for centuries. What are they? – Live Science
Brocken spectre – Wikipedia
Shamanism and trees – Shamanic Practice
Peter Levenda – Wikipedia
Joseph Campbell – Wikipedia
Cardinal Directions Spiritual Meaning – Spiritual Desk
Firmament – Wikipedia
The Matrix – Wikipedia

Is the Internet a failed experiment in freedom of expression?

How the Internet Has Changed Everyday Life – Open Mind BBVA
Early websites 1991 – 1995 – Web Design Museum
The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension – website
Gopher (protocol) – Wikipedia
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – Wikipedia
Incunabula Research Centre –
Timothy Leary – Wikipedia
Robert Anton Wilson – Wikipedia
John C. Lilly – Wikipedia
E- commerce – Wikipedia
Art Bell – Wikipedia
HTML – Wikipedia
Adobe Photoshop – Wikipedia
How The Internet Transformed The American Rave Scene – NPR
Disinformation (company) – Wikipedia
Penny Royal podcast website
Push technology – Wikipedia
Algorithm – Wikipedia
MySpace – Wikipedia
Spotify – Wikipedia
Neurodiversity – Wikipedia
Artificial Intelligence – Wikipedia
Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences by D.W. Pasulka – Goodreads
Chatbot – Wikipedia
Cut-up technique – Wikipedia
Large language model – Wikipedia
Enochian (language) – Wikipedia
Jacques Vallée – Wikipedia
Scrying – Wikipedia
Creepy Microsoft Bing Chatbot Urges Tech Columnist To Leave His Wife – Huffington Post
Dave Metcalfe’s blog
Source code – Wikipedia
Ezekiel – Wikipedia
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – Wikipedia
Special Collections & Archives – UC Santa Cruz
Alchemy – Wikipedia
Hermeticism – Wikipedia
Schizophrenia – Wikipedia
Santa Barbara, California

Art becoming someone else’s reality

Rorschach test – Wikipedia
Waking Life – Wikipedia
Waking Life (2001) Official Trailer – YouTube
Rotoscoping – Wikipedia
Richard Linklater – Wikipedia
Philip K. Dick – Wikipedia
A Scanner Darkly (film) – Wikipedia
A Scanner Darkly (2006) Official Trailer – YouTube
A Scanner Darkly (novel) – Wikipedia
Allen Greenfield on Twitter/X
Santa Cruz , California – Wikipedia
Valis (novel series) – Wikipedia
Gnosis (magazine) – Wikipedia
Gnosis magazine website
High Frontiers magazine – Anarchivism
Robert Anton Wilson – Wikipedia
Berkeley, California – Wikipedia
Big Sur – Wikipedia
Route 66 – Wikipedia
Los Angeles – Wikipedia
Jim Morrison – Wikipedia
J.R. “Bob” Dobbs – Wikipedia
Church of the Sub Genius – Wikipedia
1989 Loma Prieta earthquake – Wikipedia
Tai chi – Wikipedia
Timothy Leary – Wikipedia
Nina Graboi – Wikipedia
Albert Hofmann (chemist) – Wikipedia
R. Gordon Wasson – Wikipedia
Terence McKenna – Wikipedia
Dennis McKenna – Wikipedia
St Louis Obispo, California – Wikipedia
Robertson Jeffers – Wikipedia
Peter Levenda – Wikipedia
Sinister Forces Series by Peter Levenda – Goodreads
Project Artichoke (formerly Project Bluebird) – Wikipedia
Edward Kelley – Wikipedia
John Dee – Wikipedia
Edward Kelley and Paul Waring Raising the Dead – The Occult and Magick blog
Cosmic Trigger I (audiobook) – Audible
Light pollution – Wikipedia
Noise pollution – Wikipedia
Electromagnetic radiation and health – Wikipedia
Nonsense Bizarre podcast

Psychoactive texts

Paul Weston’s website
VYS0023 | Mercurial, Mutable, Mysterious Something – Vayse to Face with Paul Weston
Synchromysticism, Wikipedia
Valis (novel) – Wikipedia
Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati – Wikipedia
Robert Anton Wilson – Wikipedia
Syd Barrett – Wikipedia
Psychedelic drug – Wikipedia
The Illuminatus! Trilogy – Wikipedia
The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea, Robert Anton Wilson – Goodreads
The Raw Shark Texts – Wikipedia
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall – Goodreads

Are ideas living things?

Animism – Wikipedia
VYS0010 | Amazing Stories – Vayse to Face with Dr Allen H Greenfield Pt.1
VYS0011 | Weird Tales – Vayse to Face with Dr Allen H Greenfield Pt.2
Muscle memory – Wikipedia
Genesis P-Orridge – Wikipedia ( )
Psychic TV – Wikipedia
William S. Burroughs – Wikipedia
Cut-up technique – Wikipedia
Cartesianism – Wikipedia
Capitalism – Wikipedia
The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen – Goodreads

Are there magicians in politics?

Group Magickal Workings in Politics – Reddit
What is Meme Magick? – YouTube
Pepe the Frog (and Kek) – Wikipedia
Cambridge Analytica – Wikipedia
Steve Bannon – Wikipedia
Chaos magic – Wikipedia
A video making the rounds online depicts Trump as a Messiah-like figure – NPR
Hacker – Wikipedia
Caller ID Spoofing – Wikipedia
Sophomore – Wikipedia
Memetics – Wikipedia
Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections – Wikipedia
Punk’d (TV series) – Wikipedia
Playing the Infinite Game – World Quant
Zero-sum game – Wikipedia
Gamification – Wikipedia
Bitcoin – Wikipedia
Live action role-playing game(LARP) – Wikipedia
Reality tunnel – Wikipedia
A framework for using magic to study the mind – Frontiers in Psychology
Ritual In Game Design – Lumpley Games
Ritual, reality and representation: From ancient theatre to postmodern performance – Interartive
Charles Bukowski, “Find what you love and let it kill you” quote – Goodreads
Charles Bukowski – Wikipedia

Joseph’s recommendations (with suggestions from Buckley and Hine)

Under the Silver Lake – Wikipedia
Under The Silver Lake (2019) Official Trailer – YouTube
Everything Everywhere All At Once – Wikipedia
Everything Everywhere All At Once | Official Trailer – YouTube
Michelle Yeoh – Wikipedia
Jackie Chan – Wikipedia
Wolf Milk: Chthonic Memory in the Deep Wild by Martin Shaw – Goodreads
Martin Shaw author page – Goodreads
High Fidelity (film) – Wikipedia
High Fidelity (2000) Theatrical Trailer – YouTube
John Cusack – Wikipedia
Evanston, Illinois – Wikipedia
High Fidelity (novel) – Wikipedia

Vayse online

Vayse website
Vayse on X/Twitter
Vayse on Instagram
Music From Vayse – Volume 1 by Polypores
Vayse on Ko-Fi
Vayse email:

Buckley’s Closing Question(s)

Central Intelligence Agency – Wikipedia
Dealey Plaza – Wikipedia
The motives of Terry Wriste – Reddit
Georgia Guidestones – Wikipedia
Waste Container (Wheelie bin) – Wikipedia
Voynich manuscript – Wikipedia
Ashtar (extraterrestrial being) – Wikipedia
D. B. Cooper – Wikipedia
The Narrator (Fight Club) (Tyler Durden) – Wikipedia
Fight Club trailer – YouTube

Portal a lo desconocido

Portal a lo desconocido description

Link to show: Descubre cómo un simple libro polvoriento en la biblioteca de una universidad desencadenó una investigación que llevó a un viaje interdimensional de descubrimiento y aventura. Acompáñanos mientras exploramos los experimentos audaces, los científicos visionarios y los secretos enterrados bajo las ruinas de ONG’s Hat. Pero la historia no termina ahí. Desde teorías de conspiración hasta rumores sobre viajes interdimensionales, ONG’s Hat ha capturado la imaginación de millones, convirtiéndose en un símbolo de la búsqueda del conocimiento más allá de los límites de la realidad conocida. Únete a nosotros mientras desentrañamos los mitos y las verdades detrás de esta fascinante historia y exploramos cómo ONG’s Hat ha sido moldeado por las leyendas urbanas y las fake news en la era moderna. ¡Prepárate para adentrarte en el sendero del misterio con ONG’s Hat!,1707687103

Exploring Ong’s Hat

A mystery inside a mystery. FROM CHASING SHADOWS FEB 2, 2024
Quietly nestled near the middle of New Jersey, Ong’s Hat(or sometimes just “Ong”) is about 45 minutes from the Pennsylvania border to the east or 45 minutes from Seaside Heights to the west. There aren’t any big towns or remarkable landmarks near Ong’s Hat. It rests, however, near the outskirts of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, which also leaves it positioned on the edge of the infamous Pine Barrens. This region is home to a significant amount of the oddities that tend to crop up in New Jersey in far greater numbers and density than anywhere else in the United States. Most of the things encountered there aren’t well known outside of the locals, but you’ve probably heard of the most famous resident of the Barrens: the Jersey Devil. There’s no better obscure little dot on the map to find a story of mysticism, experiments, and other dimensions. And just like it lurks at the edge of the Pine Barrens, Ongs Hat manages to hang around the periphery of the paranormal community despite obscurity, confusion, little evidence, and a growing gap of decades. Most of what we know about Ong’s Hat comes from something called the “Incunabula Papers”, a book written by Joseph Matheny that relates a tale which seemed to first leak into public consciousness via BBS boards in the very earliest days of the Internet. So the story goes, a fellow named Wali Ford branched off from the Moorish Orthodox Church and created a sort of spiritual center in Ong’s Hat. There, a small sect explored the esoteric mysteries of the world in much the same way a great number of small metaphysical sects did throughout the latter half of the century. Ford’s group, however, attracted scientists of considerable skill who’d recently separated from nearby Princeton University.Subscribe This had all been happening in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, something called “The Egg” had been developed. Exactly what the Egg was meant for is a little complicated, but think of it like a sensory deprivation chamber allowing study of the mystical, chaotic inner workings of the mind. What’s more important is that The Egg, and whomever happened to be inside at the time, allegedly had a habit of disappearing. Where did it go? Well, word is they found passage to an alternate dimension. Eventually, this group of scientific mystics went and stayed there. There’s also some rumors of the military raiding their compound, there’s talk of UFOs, there’s talk of all sorts of coverups, and the Incunabula Papers even contain interviews alleging multiple other dimensions in which other groups of people lived – some having crossed over previously, through other means. So, what’s the deal? Well, I did leave out a missing piece. It’s all made up. Or, at least, that’s the common consensus. The “Papers” are a work of entertainment, the conspiracies are nurtured like a sort of ARG(Alternate Reality Game), and most of the mystery stems from it being so obscure and emerging from a hazy early-Internet that’s impossible to look back on clearly. Then again, some would say this is all a cover-story, and that anything Joseph Matheny says to suggest it’s all made-up is part of the game, or perhaps due to the Powers That Be asserting their influence. The associated websites certainly have a lot of information and links that feel genuine, or at least like they are being presented by people who believe as much.
But if it was all a game, why has it managed to hang around? It never blew up like some oddities do on the Internet, never became a viral trend that professional Conspiracy Salesmen could repackage into t-shirts and videos. Then again, if it was all real, why would the government do such a slapdash job of covering it up? And where are all these other dimensional travelers, where is the Egg(or Eggs), and how the hell do those of us stuck in this dimension join them? Well, I’d tell you to start looking in the town of Ong’s Hat, but I may have left out another missing piece. There is no such town. Not really. There is a place in New Jersey that, if you ask around and find an old-timer or someone schooled in the endless weird lore of the state, you’ll be pointed toward. It’s pretty much just an intersection, though. There’s a trail nearby, and a Circle to the east with a WaWa gas station: a chain which is a staple in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the kind of place where some weird things cling to the night-time parking lots. That’s another story, though. As for Ong’s Hat, there’s no town but there is a road that bears the name, and a little tavern, and there’s a tale of a man named Ong in the old days who flirted a bit too much and found his hat flung up onto a tree.
Mr. Ong isn’t there anymore, and it seems neither is the Egg or much of anything else. But, if you’re interested, Joseph Matheny is still around. So are a couple websites hosting all sorts of conversation and information on the topic. The “Incunabula Papers” are still out there, too. They’re freely available online, here, though you can obtain a paper version or audiobook, among other things, at If you really want to dive deep, has a vast archive of material on Ong’s Hat itself, and also a host of other unusual things. Is Ong’s Hat real? Is it a big game? Could it somehow be both? If anyone knows the answer, it’s Joseph Matheny. So I’ll close with his thoughts.
Many people have asked me over the years what I think this all is. So, I’m going to give you what I think in a nutshell. Or should I say Eggshell? What I think the Incunabula represents is an entrainment module for Quantum thinking. -Joseph Matheny, “Ong’s Hat: The Beginning, Authorized Version”
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What I meant by “game”

A filter statement, if there ever was one

Original post:

The above excerpt is from a book I’m currently reading and enjoying, This Is the Strangest Life I’ve Ever Known: A Psychological Portrait of Jim Morrison by Ana Leorne. I was impressed by this quote because it aligns with something I am working through as I write Ong’s Hat: Compleat.

When it became clear in 2000/2001 that people clearly did not understand what I was trying to do with the Ong’s Hat “sacred game” (or living book as I often called it back then), I broke the fourth wall momentarily. I pointed out that there was and always had been an explanation on the CD ROM, which served as the center point for the game at the time. If you want to see it, download the ISO, use something like WinRAR or any ISO extractor, and open the Secret.pdf in the /eXtras folder.

Rather than calming the waters, my admission stirred some people up even more. It ultimately resulted in me canceling the game due to unbridled hostility on the forum over their inability to grasp a simple concept, such as not all play implies winners and losers. Sometimes, it can be about playing for the simple joy of playing. (Read your Homo Ludens).

The misunderstanding persists to this day, with people not being able to understand what an infinite game is and persisting in acting out the only thing they know: zero-sum games. The problem, as I see it now, is that I was speaking a language that some people do not understand. To most people, a game means something trivial or a cause to seek domination, nothing more, definitely not as something sacred.

It astounds me how incapable and unwilling so many people are to grasp a concept that seems so simple. Play for the joy of playing. More about that in Compleat in 2024.

As you can see from the quote above, Jim Morrison got it, and thankfully, I know some of you here get it. I know because you’ve written and expressed it, or we’ve spoken, and it came across. That’s why you are here. So, this is a note to thank you if you’re one of those people, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.

As a side note, in 2013, I spent a week living in Jim’s old room at the Alta Cienega motel and was surprised and amused to see the graffiti below among all the scrawls and scratches on the walls and furniture in the room.

2024 will be full of new things, some of which we might enjoy.

Ong’s Hat creator Joseph Matheny on the blurred lines between fiction and reality

Sat down and had a discussion with Greg, one of the curators of one of my favorite OG websites, The Daily Grail. LINK: Ong’s Hat. For those who were on the early internet and into Grail-like topics, those two words likely spark a heady sense of conspiracy, alternative science and history nostalgia. Across websites, email lists and forums devoted to those topics, there was discussion about how much of the mythos behind the many-threaded, multi-media story of Ong’s Hat was fiction, and how much might be based in truth. Could the rumours of portals to alternative dimensions have any truth? Were conspiracy theories about it being hushed up? In retrospect, thirty years later, it all seems a little quaint. We now know Ong’s Hat was co-created as a piece of ‘guerilla storytelling’ by a number of individuals which morphed into what is now known as an alternate reality game (ARG). It’s influence, nevertheless is huge – both on the ARG business and in various modern stories which echo some of its themes, like Stranger Things. But a more shady part of its influence is on the conspiracy scene, in particular the way in which it revealed how blurring fiction and reality can give birth to myths that can no longer be controlled by their creators – and create a horde of ‘true believers’ who cross the line from having fun in a game to being particularly toxic, and possibly dangerous. Those who have followed the trajectory of Pizzagate and QAnon in recent years might recognize a similar pattern, with myths that started on messageboards as LARPs (live action role-playing games) propagating out into the real world and being co-opted by bad actors. As such, when I got the chance recently to sit down and chat to the creator of Ong’s HatJoseph Matheny (embedded below), these topics dominated our discussion. I think it’s one of the most important areas worthy of talking more about, in a world now dominated by social media and influencers, in which myths of all kind are now spreading through society and being taken as reality by far too many. Especially in the conspiracy, and alternative history and science scenes, such as we’re currently seeing play out with ‘UFO Twitter’. Enjoy! From the description: Pioneering storyteller and artist Joseph Matheny joins us to talk about his seminal ‘Alternate Reality Game’ (ARG) Ong’s Hat and how, in recent years, the techniques he employed have been weaponized by others, blurring the line between fiction and reality and leading to the rise of political cults like QAnon.

These Scientists Ripped A Hole In Reality From A Cabin In The Woods

Ever wondered about the wild, wacky and wonderful world of quantum physics, alternate dimensions, and internet hoaxes? Well, buckle up for a roller-coaster journey as we uncover one of New Jersey’s most captivating tales, the story of Wally Fard, and his spiritual commune, the Moorish Science Ashram. We spin a vivid narrative on how a carpet salesman became a spiritual leader, buying 200 acres of Pine Barrens forest land to build a pseudoscience and meditation haven.


Photo caption: RAVE CINEMA_ In the film Aggro Dr1ft, Harmony Korine uses thermal cameras borrowed from NASA to film a gamified Travis Scott transformed into an apprentice cyber-assassin. Korine speaks of it as an “aesthetic drug”. “Tiktok is better than movies. » According to filmmaker Harmony Korine, watching a film would have become as boring as sitting through a speech by Étienne Klein. Because cinema continues, unfortunately, to move away from art to become entertainment marketed like a common box of cereals, a show business where freedom, innovation, and fun have disappeared. But on the Internet and its forums, on Tiktok, or even in GTA 5 (Grand Theft Auto) or Minecraft, a totally free young generation doesn’t care about the dusty conventions of the old world. These young people are creating new popular narrative formats, located on the border between the physical and digital worlds, and still too little considered. In the game GTA 5 for example, some organize role-playing games where everyone plays a character and follows a narrative. Basically a play across an entire city, and in a game. We can follow the story from the point of view of each character, because each player broadcasts their part on Twitch, while improvising the dialogues. Some play cops, others gangsters, or pretty much whatever they want. Immersion works so well that the French Police use RP on GTA to train our future real-world chickens. In another genre, there are ARGs (alternate reality games), treasure hunts where the story takes you through different sites or social networks, with a narration blurring the lines between reality and fiction, inviting us to take part. to history. And on Tiktok an entire alternative artistic ecosystem is developing which fascinates generations Z and Alpha. Like the mini-series Skibidi Toilet, which has more than five billion views, and which presents the story of an evil head in 3D who emerges from the toilet bowl (very real), and who wants to conquer the world. Extreme absurdity shot on a daily basis in total freestyle, for fun. It is the freedom of this new generation of creations that inspired Harmony Korine to radically question his cinema, and which is moreover only the symptom of a much broader phenomenon.


To do this, Harmony Korine created EDGLRD (“edgelord”, editor’s note), a “creative factory” focused on innovation and experimentation, installed in a house in Miami. There are 3D animators, skateboarders, fashion designers, video game creators, 3D printers, and a whole bunch of hyper-progressive minds plugged into Tiktok. EDGLRD’s first project, Aggro Dr1ft, is a film resembling a digital LSD trip, which left no one indifferent at the Venice Film Festival. Shot with a thermal camera, the film is visually thought of like a painting, in the sense that the image is ultra-modified and composed of a multitude of digital layers, 3D, AI, etc. We follow the story of Bo, the “best assassin in the world” – a descendant of Georges Abitbol? – in a Miami that has become a tropical dystopia in infrared. Travis Scott plays Bo’s protégé, and speaks like an NPC (a video game automaton), repeating his lines in a robotic manner. Some people talk about it as a genre of ambient cinema, or one that can be compared to the vaporwave genre. “Vibe is almost everything,” says Korine, who speaks of an “aesthetic drug,” and explains that “the visuals and sounds are as if caught between two worlds.” We find this liminal side, between two realities, on the threshold, even in the name of the collective, Edgelord, translated “the lord of the limit”. But what do Harmony Korine and EDGLRD have in store for us next? “One of the ideas of the next film is that it won’t have any particular order, it will constantly remix itself, and allow people to remix it (…) A film that has no ending, which we enter, where we choose a character, skins, etc. “, he explained recently about Baby Invasion, an interactive thriller which will be EDGLRD’s second project. Will films soon have extensions like video games? Fascinated by the intense and direct connection that exists between the creators of Tiktok or GTA with their audience, Korine dreams of an experiential, gamified cinema, where the spectator takes part in the story and makes it evolve. He also uses a new word for this type of creation which goes beyond cinema, “blinxs”. “The blinx is its own medium, and can last a second or a year,” he says. If he wants to break the barriers of what is done in cinema, Harmony Korine is also tackling technological innovation, since EDGLRD is working on a “dream box”. A machine allowing you to “think and have a result in images, without prompting. Thoughts translated into images. Basically an illustrator of dreams.” If there is currently a creative and intellectual fascination around liminality and transmedia storytelling, we can clearly see the influence of certain pioneers who have experimented with reality, “active”, infinite, and collective works. But the liminal spaces imagined in the 1980s have since been metastasized by social networks, to become the norm of a post-reality world where our daily existences become art.


“I tried to create a living book, a kind of ritual theater, where the spectator momentarily becomes an actor, and where the actor momentarily becomes a spectator,” explains American writer and transmedia artist Joseph Matheny. We then cross an invisible barrier which is located between the audience and the performer, and the narration becomes more fluid. But today, the Internet has psychologically broken this barrier, and everyone wants to be part of the performance, and plays their character all the time.” He created Ong’s Hat in the 1980s, the first alternate reality game, a work of fiction inserted in reality (“liminal fiction”) which was so successful that it turned into a conspiracy theory, becoming out of control.


The story revolves around Ong’s Hat, an abandoned town in the USA – which exists – where researchers are gathered and conduct experiments on reality, then end up finding and settling in another dimension. To accentuate the immersion of his liminal fiction, Matheny uses different delivery mediums: “To create a story that lasts, you must make it accessible to all media, and with several entry points.” But when the Internet enters the equation of this transmedia narration designed for immersion, Internet users become interested in it, develop theories, enter the game, and end up believing in it. Some will investigate on site or even create sectarian groups based on the Ong’s Hat “conspiracy”. If Ong’s Hat and its blurring of the lines between fiction and reality was the beginning of conspiracy movements like Qanon, it also generated many positive things, which are currently re-emerging in progressive artistic circles – like Harmony Korine with EDGLRD. But how does this ambient liminality manifest, and why does it attract us so much?


“Liminality is a bit like the white space of The Matrix. It is the space of the possible, where things have not yet happened, where they could happen, it is the space of pure poetry, which gives us the possibility of conceiving everything, of imagining everything,” explains Mohamed Megdoul, founder of the Immersion magazine. On Tiktok or YouTube, tons of content are created around so-called liminal spaces: empty video game maps, offices, shopping centers, play areas, in short, places of transition that are both empty and strangely familiar. Spaces from dreams, basically. In this vein, we were able to follow the adventures of the tiktoker @unicosobreviviente, who claims to live in 2027 and to be alone on the planet. We follow his wanderings in a Tiktok remake of Eric and Ramzy’s Seul Two, fragmented, distilled every day and followed by millions of intrigued people, caught up in the game, in the story – as with Ong’s Hat. LES BACKROOMS_ These empty offices called backrooms are an internet mythology, used as the basis for various narratives, and have popularized liminal spaces in recent years. The Kane Pixels video, from which this image is taken, has 14 million views… The big entertainment capital companies took a while, but are starting to understand that there is something going on with this taste for imitation reality. Netflix or Apple have therefore recently played with the codes of ARG and liminal spaces in the series The Missing and Severance. The Succession series transformed Silicon Valley into a living Loro Piana ad, and the lore – imaginary world – of Barbie brought the cultural mega-wave of Barbiecore to our iPhones this summer. It is now possible to rent a life-size Barbie house in Malibu, and it is accepted to pretend to be Barbie on a daily basis – and that’s very good. Because the whole idea of ​​liminality is being who you want to be. And to do this, we can either create our own universe, or graft ourselves onto an existing lore, a bit like we would choose the imaginary setting of a theater of self-pressionism. In any case, the mind becomes the medium.


“I see social networks, Instagram, as a stage. Choose who you want to play, look whatever you want. Create a persona of your own, because everyone online is fake anyway. (…) people think we’re not real,” one of the two members of 2girls1bottl3, a Tiktok account at the forefront of new-weird, which mixes comedy, mysterious storytelling, Y2K fashion, and cosplay – you will soon see them posing for your favorite brand. We can also make a link between liminality and the fashion which consists of undermining oneself like a teenager from the 2000s, immersing oneself in a period of transition where everything was possible. We find this idea in the SS24 fashion show by the Barràgan brand, organized in an airport – the liminal space par excellence –, or even at Heaven by Marc Jacobs. But as with Ong’s Hat, it’s a question of not falling too deep into fiction, as Joseph Matheny reminds us, “if you play all the time, you’re never sincere.” It is here that a new generation of cinema – driven by the success of Everything Evrywere All At Once – and described as metamodernist, finally re-establishes a more natural link between our real people and our cultural references. In metamodernism, we finally reconnect with a certain sincerity, because unlike Pulp Fiction, although full of references, those found here have a direct emotional link with the viewer, since they are Internet memes. “In the virality of memes, there is an unknown factor, which comes from something very deep, from a collective unconscious which makes us what we are, and which we ignore. When someone does something instinctively, unconsciously, and everyone else reacts just as unconsciously, we have put our finger on a theme,” explains Joseph Matheny. In the age of ultra-connection fueled by algorithms, the community movements of our unconscious interests therefore seem to shape new cultural playgrounds, new common imaginary spaces which are self-nourishing, and located in a world between two . Are we collectively breaking the fifth wall? By Jean-Baptiste Chiara