shew stones


With Emily C. Thomas.

During the summer of 2018 we visited Glass Butte, one of the world's largest deposits of obsidian (volcanic glass) which lies outside Burns, Oregon. We camped out a few weeks and worked with a local lapidary to produce a family of ‘entangled’ obsidian tablets. The Shew Stone of the 16th century alchemist John Dee, an obsidian mirror of Aztec origin, is an important reference.

The obsidian tablets are intended for experiments at the intersection of parapsychology and art. Scrying session #1, in the context of UrbanArt Commission’s project Bridging the Distance, was the first such experiment, taking place in the summer of 2020.

Even if we are not physically in the midst of one another, we share a collective field of consciousness as a species. This has variously been referred to as telepathy, the collective unconscious, intersubjectivity or, in quantum physics, ‘spooky action at a distance’. We currently see a huge move towards mediation via digital screens, referred to by Charlie Brooker, creator of the sci-fi drama by that name, as ‘black mirrors’. The black mirror surfaces of our obsidian tablets provide an alternative, hopefully unlocking our innate psychic abilities, helping to emancipate us from the hypnotic power of digital tools and the corporate forces behind them.