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Adam Stennett. Potato Gun with Video Demo. 2008. Pvc pipe, krylon fusion paint, bbq igniter, aqua net hair spray, potato, stickball bat ramrod, custom rack with 58 second demonstration video 56 x 14.5 x 8"

collaboration with Matthew Creighton Stennett

 

The sculptural/installation works below represent MK-ULTRA and Millbrook as two opposing soccer teams. In the 1950s and 60s the two groups came to the field of psychedelic research from opposite angles, the covert CIA program exploring mind control and manipulation and Timothy Leary and Millbrook exploring the possibilities of mind-expansion. Such research has provided fodder for conspiracy theorists while generally revealing more about the ideologies of those who formulated the studies than about altered consciousness itself.

Adam Stennett. MK-Ultra. 2008. Screenprint and spray-paint on US Army issue t-shirts, pvc pipe, astro turf, carrying case, 36 x 22 x 86 inches. Accompanied by signed, first edition, Hardcover Mk-Ultra Handbook.

PROJECT MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert CIA mind-control and chemical interrogation research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence, that began in the early 1950s and continued at least through the late 1960s. There is much published evidence that the project involved the surreptitious use of many types of drugs especially LSD, as well as other methodology, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function. The MKULTRA director was granted six percent of the CIA operating budget in 1953, without oversight or accounting. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject's knowledge and informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code that the U.S. agreed to follow after WWII.

Considerable evidence supports the contention that Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski participated in CIA-sponsored MKULTRA experiments conducted at Harvard University by Henry A. Murray, a professor in Social Relations, from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962. Kaczynski was subjected to "a disturbing and what would now be seen as ethically indefensible experiment on twenty-two undergraduates." Kaczynski was a precocious, though impressionable, sixteen-year-old when he began his participation; his assigned code name was "Lawful." He emerged, years later, as a terrorist and has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

MKULTRA, perhaps predictably, plays a part in many conspiracy theories given its nature and the destruction of most records. Some claim the MKULTRA project was linked with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. They have argued that there is evidence that the assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, had been subjected to mind control.
Project MK-ULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973.

Although the CIA insists that MKULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MKULTRA was abandoned a 'cover story.'.

44 American colleges or universities, 15 research foundations or chemical or pharmaceutical companies and the like, 12 hospitals or clinics (in addition to those associated with universities), and 3 prisons are known to have participated in MKULTRA.

 

Adam Stennett. Millbrook. 2008. Spray-paint on Brooks Brothers t-shirts, pvc pipe, astro turf, military footlocker, 36 x 22 x 86 inches assembled. Accompanied by signed, first edition, Hardcover Millbrook Handbook.

MILLBROOK is a village in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 1,429 at the 2000 census. It is considered one of the wealthiest towns in the State of New York and is often thought of as a rural and more low-key version of The Hamptons.

A large estate in Millbrook became the headquarters and psychedelic research commune for Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) after they were both fired from their positions as respected professors at Harvard for their expanding research into psychedelics. Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an icon of 1960s counterculture, Leary is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD.

Leary's activities interested siblings Peggy, Billy and Tommy Hitchcock, heirs to the Mellon fortune, who in 1963 helped Leary and his associates acquire the use of a rambling mansion on an estate in the town of Millbrook (near Poughkeepsie, New York), where they continued their experiments. Leary later wrote: "We saw ourselves as anthropologists from the twenty-first century inhabiting a time module set somewhere in the dark ages of the 1960s. On this space colony we were attempting to create a new paganism and a new dedication to life as art." (Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream (1998) by Jay Stevens, p. 208)

Later, the Millbrook estate was described as "the headquarters of Leary and gang for the better part of five years, a period filled with endless parties, epiphanies and breakdowns, emotional dramas of all sizes, and numerous raids and arrests, many of them led by the local assistant district attorney, G. Gordon Liddy. Others contest this characterization of the Millbrook estate; for instance, in his book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe portrays Leary as only interested in research, and not using psychedelics merely for recreational purposes. According to "The Crypt Trip" chapter of Wolfe's book, when Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters visited the residence, the Pranksters did not even see Leary, who was engaged in a three-day trip. According to Wolfe, Leary's group even refused to give the Pranksters acid.

 

Adam Stennett. If You Can Read This You Are Already Dead. 2004. Clear pvc pipe, rubber, stainless steel, electric fans, 20-30 live mice, dimensions variable

 

Adam Stennett. If Lethal Reduce Dose. 2002. Wood, glass, mouse-chewed paper, plexi, syringe, boutlinum toxin type A, live mouse/taxidermied mouse, 15 3/16 x 11 7/8 inches

 

 

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