The Photic Wave: Cosmic Rivulet

Media Environment


The Photic Wave is a multimedia environment using video and 3D structures to create an immersive installation that describes The Photic Wave: an ideological organization invented by Nightmare City as a vessel for their research on new spiritualist movements. This work presupposes the invention of a sect whose beliefs reside at the center of a metaphorical and metaphysical prism between visionary social architectural frameworks, interspecies communication between humans and dolphins, and the unrealized Utopian promise of broadcast television. Indoctrination videos in conjunction with ritual-depicting video sculptures and a mysteriously iconic 35mm slide projection are the parenthetical brackets, the beginning and end, the alpha and omega of the sect’s meta-program of infinite awareness.


The Photic Wave: California Consciousness

Media Environment


Revisiting THE PHOTIC WAVE: Rich Evidence, Nightmare City has produced a large inflatable bubble, inside of which audiences are invited to encounter the transcendent theta frequencies as they bathe amongst the projected light and sound that fills the inner space. Videos and photographs shot on location at sacred spectral sites such as Giant Rock, The Integratron, and Pfeiffer Beach depict the duo performing ceremonial gestures with a diaphanous inflatable form. As a continuation of Nightmare City’s work with homage and quotation, these inflatable forms reference 1960s and 70s Californian counterculture projects such as the collectives Ant Farm and USCO.



Experience the presence of the eternal envelope. Know the lightness and weight of eons. Embrace the fluid freedom of perfect polyethylene. Vibrate with us at the THETA frequency: the origin point for THE PHOTIC WAVE’s meta-program of infinite awareness.


komische Nachbarn



Battery-powered LEDs, Emergency Blankets, Hydroponic Mylar, Plants foraged from San Francisco’s Financial District,




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Media Environment & Screening


The car radio, tuned to kfwb, was playing the doors’ “people are strange (When you’re a stranger)” as she injected herself into the slow lane of the eastbound freeway and settled in, hating to let any of it go, Banning, the dinosaurs, the Palm Springs turnoff, indio, across Mojave, to be dreamed in colors pale but intense, with unnaturally fine sand blowing in plumes across the sun, baby blue shadows in the folds of the dunes, a pinkish sky-- holding on, letting go, redreaming each night stop the less easterly places she’d been in all day, coming slowly unstuck, leaving for the united states, trying not to get emotional, but still hanging on the rearview mirror’s single tale of recedings and vanishing points as we hang on to looks our lovers give. (1) Grafted onto the historical figure of the American cowboy, this new "Cowboy Nomad" is part Marshall McLuhan and part Ken Kesey. He roams, but he takes his electronic (and psychedelic) technology with him. He can't bear the commercial American landscape or the middle class, and yet he lives off the bounty they have produced. And he is a "he"-there are no women in sight.” The first portapak system, the Sony Video Rover was introduced to the market in 1967. It was a two-piece set consisting of a black-and-whitecomposite video video camera and a separate record-only helical scan ½" video tape recorder (VTR) unit. It required a Sony CV series VTR to play back the video.  Numerous other manufacturers sold their own versions of Portapak technology. Although it was light enough for a single person to carry and use, it was usually operated by a crew of two: one carrying and controlling the camera, and one carrying and operating the VTR. (2)

The Photic Wave: Rich Evidence






THE PHOTIC WAVE resides at the heart of a metaphorical and metaphysical prism.


In this triangular intersection between

(1) visionary social architectural frameworks


(2) interspecies communication between humans and dolphins


(3) the utopian promise of broadcast television


THE PHOTIC WAVE vibrates from the molecular to the celestial level at THETA frequency.


In this dream state between sleep and wakefulness, THETA brainwaves are associated with  increased creativity, dolphin encounters, meditative and trance states, Structuralist filmmaking and states of euphoria.


THETA is the origin point for THE PHOTIC WAVE’s meta-program of infinite awareness



20 YouTube Videos  and

1 set of seventeen 12-minute BetaMax Video Cassettes


A remake of an episode of the late 70s/early 80s British sci-fi/fantasy cult show “Sapphire and Steel.” Looking backwards and forwards through time, this remake layers a range of video technologies and means of reproduction from an analogue 1960s-era broadcast tv camera to to obsolete BetaMax cassettes to the currently ubiquitous YouTube UI that, over the past decade, has shaped our expectations for both streaming video and user-generated content.


The narrative is re-enacted by a group amateur actors who interchangeably represent the titular characters: two inter-dimensional time detectives. NIGHTMARE CITY portrays the remaining two characters simultaneously through a composite identity created in post-production.


Layering footage of each of the Nightmares, ill-formed chimeric characters depict quixotic notions and misuse of time, space, technology, spiritualism and the supernatural  — all while the re-made footage stutters, struggling to remain in-sync with the original audio track from the show.

Modelwalk Retrograde

Single Channel Digital Video


Quasi-structural and aestheticized counterpart to MODELWALK, describing a dual-simultaneous recording each other posing, shooting and strutting towards and away from one another for the duration of 1 mini-dv tape.


Two Channel Digital Video


Considering our collaborative practice as a performance for the camera this loop describes a dual-simultaneous recording of each other posing, shooting and strutting towards and away from one another for the duration of 1 mini-dv tape.



Single Channel Digital Video Projection


"Everything's going bad in this world!"


But hasn't it already? In this real-time loop, performing dialogue lifted from the first minute of Vera Chytilova's 1966 film "Daisies," Nightmare City locates themselves in the moment when Chitylova's protagonists willfully decide to "go bad" and enjoy a cathartic placebo in a world where action is rendered a meaningless or idle gesture through endless repetition.



Media Environment


In collaboration with Copy Lake (Alex S. Lukas,), NIGHTMARE CITY COPY LAKE THE HORDE explored the process by which 1960s counter-culture, despite its former political and cultural potency, has become a flaccid caricature of its own values in popular culture. The performance reinterpreted the songs "A House is Not a Motel" (Love), "Hotel California" (The Eagles), "California Dreamin’" (The Mamas & the Papas), and "Dreams" (Fleetwood Mac.)


Seamlessly merged, the songs are performed with lyrics intact but accompanied by and filtered though mangled amusical tape loops and washes of noise. The performance was punctuated by psychedelic projections in which retro aesthetics and form are mediated by digital interventions such as consumer-grade transitional edits and pixelization as well as vibrant dashiki costumes spray-painted dull beige; hand-made "pan-ethnic" prop-like "totems" of multi-dimensional occult-based dream-catchers adorned with strings of Tibetan bells.


The performance was recorded at sites historically significant to the 1960s counterculture movement in California, including Altamont Speedway (San Joaquin Valley), People’s Park (Berkeley), Golden Gate Park (San Francisco), and Monterey Fairgrounds (Montery) and served as footage for four simultaneously and conintuously screening music videos of the reinterpreted songs.

To Valie Export with Love and Kisses

Dyptic, 36"x 50" Plotter Prints


Inhabiting  VALIE EXPORT's photographic performance works "Body Configurations" with chopped and screwed results.



The Pixie Troll Witch Hour:

Into the 3 AM Void with Carol Anne & Keturah

Digital Video and Unlimited Edition DVDs


Nightmare City's variety show, "The Pixie Troll Witch Hour," takes its cue from Jon Moritsugu's short, "Mommy, Mommy Where's My Brain?", "Wayne's World", "The Uncle Floyd Show", and Glenn O'Brien's "TV Party", but veers toward the silently incoherent. Available to view on DVDs distributed through the Nightmare City Publications website as well as occasionally screened on public access channels across the US, "The Pixie Troll Witch Hour," toys with notions of doubling, visual tropes of cable-access video editing, questionable production values and densely layered reference.


Synopsis: Hosts Keturah and Carol Anne toy with time and space in this episode of the public access show that features mystical interventions with Princess Diana's spirit. Also, youtube artist Myles Cooper gives a rousing performance, Dad Fag, WORK and Schlitz Claiborne prove that you don't have to tune those things to play 'em, and all-around-general-muse Johnny Grindstaff attempts to transform from a barfly into a butterfly. This installment originally aired on June 14, 1996.

© NIGHTMARE CITY 2008-2016