Four years after releasing my documentary Reality and the Extended Mind, and 350 thousand views later, I recently reflected on the life-changing story of how it all came about…
I made Reality and the Extended Mind (featured below) back in 2010. It is a film about mysterious extended characteristics of consciousness that researchers call psi. I never expected my film to gain the attention it did. When I set out to make it I think I just wanted an excuse to meet and ask questions of the scientists exploring the nature of consciousness and its place in reality. I was fascinated by the implications of these controversial effects.
The opportunity came when I was contacted via my YouTube channel by a guy around my age in the US. He had worked alongside some of the leading scientists in the field of consciousness research. Adam had been a researcher at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory, known as the PEAR lab. These scientists were testing the apparent influence of participants’ intention on the statistical outputs of a quantum random system. This mysterious effect directly challenged the prevailing assumption in the mind sciences – that consciousness is an illusion confined to the brain. The PEAR experiments suggested that the origins of consciousness are rooted in a deeper order of nature. This was a conclusion that mainstream science was yet to accept.
Had it not been for Adam Curry’s generosity and friendship, the film would never have been made. He invited me stay with him and meet some of his colleagues and friends involved in psi research. Flying from London, I took two extended trips to the US over two years, where Adam and I embarked on several ambitious road trips. Through the course of conducting interviews at research labs and conferences I met many fascinating people. I found myself in the presence of pioneers in consciousness research. Thinking back to the first time I interviewed IONS researcher Dean Radin, or Global Consciousness Project director Roger Nelson, seems curiously like a dream. Our accommodations ranged from crashing on student’s couches in Boulder, Colorado, to the surreal extravagance of the Luxor in Las Vegas, where we’d stayed during a remote viewing conference. As well as sharing a fascination with consciousness and the nature of reality, Adam and I discovered that we had a lot in common, and quickly became fast friends. Our road trips between destinations took us through changing landscapes of mountains, pine forests and desert. These we my first experiences in the US and the distances seemed vast. Our conversations ranged from the potentials of biofeedback technology, to the farther reaches of human consciousness. Late one night we pulled over, deep in the Nevada desert to look up at the Milky Way stretching across the night sky. I’d never seen stars like that before. These were magical, worldview-expanding times for me. The great mystery of the universe had never felt so imminent.
When I finally returned to England with the footage, the reality of actually making the film gradually began to set in. I was broke at the time and had no choice but to edit the footage on an ancient dusty laptop which, several years earlier, had survived a four-month backpacking trip around India. During editing, which I was essentially learning as I went along, I had to use the laptop speakers for sound because the aux was broken and irreparable. Every minor edit to the timeline began an excruciating epoch of loading during which the computer was essentially frozen. I would wait as the fan buzzed furiously in the computer’s sand-filled interior. Sometimes it would relinquish control to me after 10 minutes or so, frequently it would simply crash. The CPU often got so hot I worried it was going to melt. For the duration of the editing process I balanced the laptop on sealed ice packs. I expected the old machine to give out at any time, losing months of editing. Miraculously it didn’t. The result of my efforts is the modest film you see before you.
Reality and the Extended Mind is ultimately a collage of images, music and information I hoped would be an interesting introduction to psi research. A product of the remix culture I grew up with, it was an entirely non profit film produced for the purpose of journalism and public interest.
Adrian Nelson is a psychologist and film maker from the UK, currently interning at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, helping to bring IONS to the next generation. Adrian’s new book – Origins of Consciousness – is now available on Amazon.