The Artwork of


Substate Reactor
IMPACT: Sonoran Desert, Arizona
Field report fragment
May 10, 2013
8:32 PM, Saturday
As I looked up at the huge silver screen ahead of me all I could see was a barrage of white noise mixed with partially outlines images. The sounds were just as undistinguishable. The squawking and squelching of some weak signal just barely making it through. As the image became clearer I could make out what looked like a technician sitting inside a small housing. He (or she) was twisting knobs and flipping switches in front of a large wall of electronics filled with TV screens, dials and control equipment. Soon after, the noises emanating from the screen became coherent and sounded like airport communications. –Ä just a few more degrees to the leftÄ ok goodÄ bring up the com link to the stageÄ increase to twenty thousand feetÄ forty minutes to impact target perimeterÄ”
Impact target perimeter? What the hell was that? I guess that must be technical jargon for crash site. At first, when I read about the event, I thought is was just a joke but seeing this occurring on that screen made me think these guys were really going to do it. It was even a little disturbing. I meanÄ diving it straight into the ground! That was just a little bit crazy.
It said on the program distributed to the viewing group that the event we were about to witness had been organized by a corporation known as Negasonic Research and Development or NRAD (enàrad) for short. It said the event was to be considered a •performance art pieceê. It seemed more like a giant out door rock concert if you asked me, only this concert had a definite sense of mechanization about it. Equipment everywhere and not the usual sort of stuff one expects for a concert. A communication tower, antennas and trucks full of electronic gear manned by paramilitary looking staff.
We were told that there was going to be musical component to this display. A strange picture depicting unfamiliar symbology represented what I gather was the •bandê on the cover of the hand out. They called themselves Substate Reactor. In the brief summary of the pages to follow, it described Substate Reactor as pioneers in the genre of Atomic Music. What was that supposed to mean? Iêd never heard the term before but I guess I was about to find out.
The event was taking place in one of the most remote places I have ever been to the Sonoran Desert in the southwest part of Arizona. Dry, desolate plains as far as the eye could see except three distinct locations. The viewing area, where I and about forty others were, a huge stage in front of us with the screen and far in the distance a large flat surface that I assume was the •impact perimeterê. This was all laid out very neatly in a technical drawing of the site provided with the program. It was starting to get dark and I could see the sun setting off to the west. The show was to take place sometime around dusk.
Suddenly, without warning, all the lights in the area went out. This was unnerving and others around me were grumbling about what was going on. We were located in an enclosed building about two stories high with windows surrounding all four walls and television monitors everywhere. They said the room was a safety precaution. Was it really necessary?
After about thirty seconds in the dark the giant stage in front of us was lit up with three symbols. They were not recognizable and I quickly remembered the translation table at the back of the program for decoding the symbology around us. According to the table, the symbols represented each member of the band and the driving forces behind them. FORCEÄ LOGICÄ EMOTION.
A low rumble began soon after the symbols came into view. A kind of low frequency bass emitted from the stage. I could feel it everywhere. Suddenly three huge rectangular images came into view, one in front of each symbol. Again the distorted, snowy images of partially received signal were coming through on each one. A loud crash of sound struck as the images came into focus. Each one contained a human figure surrounded by more electronic equipment. Wires hung all around them attached to parts of their bodies and to other devices I could not recognize. A soft green and blue glow illuminated them as the one on the right addressed the audience. –WelcomeÄ” A long pause as the figures on the screen looked around. I guess this was a two- way transmission. They acted as though they could see our surroundings and us as clearly as we could see them. –Ä We have just arrived into orbitÄ Forgive the poor signal quality earlierÄ solar flares are interfering with the transmissionsÄ” Solar flares? Orbit? These guys were in space?!
I immediately got out my headcorder and strapped it to my head, tilted the view locator across my right eye and started recording. This was definitely no regular performance piece Iêd ever seen. –Ä Feel free to use any recording devices you wish during the performanceÄ We will be feeding live images of the impact as they happen to the monitors inside your viewing areaÄ” They obviously wanted us to see every bit of this!
Without any warning, the low rumble of sound that started earlier turned into a thunderous beat. The three members of Substate Reactor began moving at a feverish pace adjusting knobs and switches. I guess whatever we were hearing was now directly controlled by them. As the •musicê progressed I could start to understand the term •Atomic Musicê. It was like a modern version of Tchaikovskyês famous 1812 overture. Crashing base pulses shook the ground beneath us like cannon fire. Everything in the viewing room was shaking and rocking about. I was now beginning to appreciate the •safety precautionsê. Somehow I felt safer in this concrete building than out there. The music came in waves with soft melodic sections and hard crescendos. Strange alien warbles followed by gut wrenching thumps of low frequency bass. It was starting to make me feel a little queasy. Images of strange textures and colors flashed across the screen superimposed on the musicianês outlines. Mathematical objects and equations with odd archeological archive photographs were melted into the visual display. A definite theme was beginning to take shape. Regeneration.
During one of the less active parts of the progression, the tone of the music trailed off and was replaced by that same signal we had heard right at the beginning. –Ä Two minutes to impact perimeterÄ engaging auto-pilotÄall readings indicate a go conditionÄswitching video feed to ground controlÄ” Was this it? It sounded like they were ready. A signal started to come through on the monitors inside our viewing room. The same signal appeared on the large screen in front of us outside the building. I could see a small shape in an otherwise black screen. That has to be it! I told myself. All of itês landing lights came into view. Each corner of the big screen was suddenly cropped off and replaced with four other video feeds. Two of them looked like the impact site and another two onboard the craft. One was an interior view of a jumbo jet cockpit and the other at the top of the planeês tail section. I could see the long body with the wings protruding out on either side. Nobody seemed to be onboard. I hope not! I assume the pilot ejected.
A low beating drum was playing over top of the video feed now. The aircraftês progress toward the site was being tracked by one of the monitors. It was positioning itself overtop of the impact point. Slowly, it started to tilt forward. The tilting continued until the impact point could be seen as a tiny dot of light dead in front of the nose. This thing was heading straight for the ground! –Ä twenty thousandÄ fifteen thousandÄ ten thousandÄ” As the aircraft reached higher speeds, the onboard cameras started to shake. Obviously stresses on the craft were taking their toll. The impact point was growing at an exponential rate. Everything onboard began to shake violently. I could no longer make out the images. –Ä five thousandÄ two thousandÄ five hundredÄ IMPACT!”
It was the loudest thing I ever heard. The ground beneath us jerked like an over-enthusiastic tremor. The screen in front of us had switched to a full view of the impact site moments before it collided. I was able to see the craft from four different angles as it hit the ground. The air speed was displayed on one of the cameraês left corner along with other information from instrument gauges. The last reading I could make out displayed –1.38 kmps”.
My God! They actually did it!
Personal Note:
Dr. Lôtz Werner, a representative of the research division at NRAD, was quoted in the program: –Not only is this event a first in the art community but is also makes for a very useful kinetic experiment. NASA and Boeing have already committed financial support to this project in exchange for sharing the impact data.” It went on to explain Dr. Wernerês involvement in the frequency experiments conducted by his department. It all seems a little too ominous for me. I suspect some of this financial support was coming directly from the Defense department.

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