interview with helen hall
conversation with brian carroll of
sept. 26-27th, 2007, minneapolis, minnesota
recorded & transcribed, published 11/07

/ part 1 / part 2 / part 3 /

Tesla 'luminiferous ether' quote

bc:  we were talking about sound and the aether. now, um, you're making this film and traditionally, in electromagnetism and especially in electricity there's an analogy to water: pipes, flows, current, waves, this sort of thing. {right}

and i've heard you mention that you are interested in vortices, vortex, in water. is that a fair thing to say, or, in relation to the aether? i'm wondering is there any relation between water and the aether in a conceptual sense?

hh:  yes, in the sense that they are both mediums for natural phenomena.

bc:  so what is the relation between water and the aether in terms of a vortex?

hh:  oh, it's the form of the vortice i'm interested in. they occur in air and water but it just happens to be a little easier to try to film vortices in water. vortices for me describe the movement of aetheric energy...

Lord Kelvin modeled the electron as a vortice of energy. [17] and so did Boscovich, an 18th century natural philosopher. [18]

in the film, i'm exploring that kind of whirlpool movement of energy. (which is also true of tornados.)

bc:  my question is this. there's a symbol of a vortex... [20]

hh:  uh-huh

bc:  what is it going from -- is it an issue of going from one layer to another? is it related to scalar energy in some way? [21]

hh:  yes it is.

bc:  what kind of waves, scalar waves? {yes} or standing waves? my question is, if you take a vortex, it would seem to be going from one thing to another thing, as if it is some kind of weird inversion...

hh:  i think it is inter-dimensional...

bc:  and so, for example, when you mention the relation between sound and the aether or electromagnetism and the aether... is it the interaction between these that establishes or forms the vortice?

hh:  i think it probably is. [22]

bc:  and so, when there are electromagnetic waves, or let's just say that there is acupuncture...

hh:  my understanding is that the aether, aetheric energy, in order to tap into it - it has to be destabilized...

bc:  so it is an issue of equilibrium in a medium... [23]

hh:  so the vortices would be the activity of an energetic aether that's been destabilized.

bc:  and so, you've mentioned this previously... it's like sound: sound is going through something or is pushing against something to transmit itself, right? {yes}

and you're saying there's this thing, this stuff...

hh:  this other layer, yes...

bc:  this other layer, okay... so when there is a vortice, vortex, whatever... let's say somebody puts a cup down on a table, like this: (knock) [bc puts cup down on the table]

hh:  um-hum

bc:  so you could say that the sound is occurring in a realm both of electromagnetism and the nervous system hearing that, (i.e. the sound traveling through air, that we're hearing that) - but it also maps into the aether at a fundamental level...

hh:  it disturbs it

bc:  to create that. {yes}

the cup, the sound, and the nervous system. and it all exists in the same medium. (the aether)

hh:  yes.

bc:  i am trying to get at a question that is really difficult to say because i have never thought about it before - it's about this mapping idea, of the concepts involved, you know, there's many different concepts involved... i'm trying to think of an example where something occurs and it might happen on one layer, and then it may fall into the aether... (via the vortex)

i mean, is the aether at the bottom of the vortex, or is it sinking to the vortex?

hh:  i think so.

bc:  it would seem like it would have to, if it were to exist in a realm of this aether. like, in terms of: if it is established there, it would need to find its way there - every event.

and so it would seem that what is being said is that vortices could be, you said it could be related to interdimensionality or something... but this might be a way that one layer maps into another, in a complex topographic or topological relationship... but it might be a different type of vortex than just what you see, visually, -- i mean, it would be a complex flurry of vortices everywhere...

bc:  is that... is there any relation between the vortices and music? have you ever encountered anything, or is that beyond the dimensionality of traditional approaches?

i mean there is a lot of 3D spatialization (of sound) but i'm wondering, compositionally, has a vortex ever been...

hh:  there is at least one composition i can think of, related to the vortice as a natural phenomenon [26] and i've long been inspired by the movement of vortices, and the idea of a vortice which is created by both an inwardly-moving spiral and an outwardly-moving spiral... [27]

bc:  that are simultaneous?

hh:  that are combined, that are simultaneous.

bc:  so that's what is going on?

hh:  yeah.

bc:  so it is counter-revolutions?

hh:  yeah, and it's similar to the yin-yang symbol you've described too. [28] you know it's that inner spiraling, in one sense energy is created by that inner spiraling path and then it dissipates through the outer spiraling...

hh:  and as you know i wrote the piece ~Of Radiant Streams in which the energy dissipates in the end...

bc:  through a Fibonacci spiral... (which attains equilibrium) [30]

hh:  through a Fibonacci spiral. in Infinity Maps, which is the music for my film Pictures of Infinity, i'm exploring a form, and of course i'm doing it through music, not literally but metaphorically, and also to a certain extent with geometry. i'm exploring the notion of an inwardly-moving spiral and an outwardly-moving spiral that are complementary. [31]

bc:  interesting. did you ever relate it to the aether or is it something you just needed to do as a piece by piece working-through of various...

hh:  you mean did i ever think of it that way?

bc:  uh-huh

hh:  no, no i didn't. but i was thinking about music as streams of energy when i wrote Of Radiant Streams (1985) - and radiant energy is considered to be aetheric too... i wasn't consciously thinking of that although it's always inspired me. i think it's connected to music in ways i do not completely understand... and i've always felt this (connection) and wanted to be closer to it, through music.

bc:  how did you get started in music? short answer...

hh:  short answer - the Beatles. (laughs)

how did i get started in music? it was a gradual process... i learned to play guitar when i was twelve. i learned to play by ear and was playing most of the music i heard on the radio... and then as a teenager i wanted to...

bc:  so you had a natural ability and you just picked it up?

hh:  i picked it up by ear, it wasn't unusual at that time. and there was so much great music that, you know, it was natural i think to want to play an instrument. um, and then later in my teens i wanted to learn to read music. and then i became more and more interested in classical music and it was really hard to play by ear, to learn it by ear... so this led to many years of formal study.

bc:  what got you into film, what started you in film? did you have to make a film or did you decide to make a film, or did you decide to enter into filmmaking, i mean, was it some answer, was it some solution to a problem? or, you know, i guess the larger question is this, i have many questions i am thinking of, you can skip any of them...

hh:  no, it's fine...

bc:  the one i am trying to get to is, you define yourself as a composer and a filmmaker, what does it mean to you to do that in terms of categories? and then, how does it influence when you try to get grants or to fit into funding structures for your work?

hh:  i think of myself primarily as a composer. i made a film because i got to a certain point where I thought of writing music as a form of willful autism - because, music is a very particular thing, it's very... you know, when you consider the whole realm of human experience and sound is only one part of that - and for me it's always associated with a very deep internal experience.

i made a film because i reached a point where i really felt limited... i needed to extend my music into different media...

bc:  what has it been like to get funding for your work or what is it like to go through traditional approaches where you are doing something non-traditional?

your work is challenging certain presumptions. does it work against you when you are trying to find funding?

hh:  it can be difficult and challenging.

bc:  and so what has your experience been. have you... any ideas, any issues you want to explore? i don't want to get into politics, but i am just wondering- if you need to say something what would it be?

hh:  i think it's that when i made my first film (Powerlines) it was possible to do this only because at that time there was an openness to funding interdisciplinary work... but at a certain point in the '90's that changed and now it seems as though most of those doors have been closed...

bc:  but they are open for certain projects, aren't they?

hh:  well, if they fit in. i think the whole funding process has become very bureaucratic.

bc:  and categorical?

hh:  yeah, it's very narrowly-defined categories and anything that doesn't fit into those categories either simply isn't understood or can be considered to be of lesser importance than whatever it is that defines the category. at the same time, though, there are individuals working within organizations who are actively challenging these limitations and are committed to making it possible for unique interdisciplinary projects to move forward.

bc:  who's the audience for your film, Pictures of Infinity? who are you looking to communicate about these ideas with?

hh:  i'd like to say everyone or anyone. i really don't like to define my audience.

bc:  do you need a Ph.D. to understand?

hh:  absolutely not, of course not. (laughs)

bc:  are you saying that there is a basic issue of literacy here, that people can be aware of these things, (i.e. the aether) and that it is part of... that it is as apprehendable as sound yet as abstract?

hh:  i believe it is, and i think that it's very intuitive. and i really don't think of it as a scientific subject, i think it is a subject that has to do with everything we experience in our everyday life.

bc:  so what do you think when people categorize this phenomena in terms of, let's say, mediate this in terms of physics -- you know, and then they might say: "well, we can only talk about this in terms of an orthodox physics-based approach", to talk about energy in terms of numbers and things like that.

also, there are a lot of issues of fringe science involved with investigating the aether, experiments of perpetual energy or free energy. and what is the threshold for, um, you know... experimentation, like Tesla said, that this was the approach - that it is through experiment that knowledge is gained. but what happens when science is (pursued) in a post-modern realm where everything is relative... what you are trying to get at is bigger than 'science'...

hh:  exactly, yes it is.

bc:  and so, what you seem to be saying is that it's actually an issue of culture and energy, it's not just science and energy...

hh:  very much.

bc:  it's a larger thing. and so this goes back to, you said, for example, you referenced language. what did you say about that in terms of energy systems...

hh:  i referenced in my talk (at the Bakken Library) a linguistic text that influenced me many years ago called Language, Thought, and Reality, a collection of essays by Benjamin Lee Whorf. in one of his essays he describes how the Hopi language has many different words for different kinds of vibration. it reveals an understanding of energy which is very subtle and refined. and then Whorf went on to say that their language describes natural phenomena in a way that is more true to our current understanding than our own language is...

bc:  than the English language,

hh:  than Western European language is, yes.

bc:  and potentially even science...

hh:  and, through his collection of essays, he's basically saying that our language does not map to our present understanding of the world, that it's inaccurate - and that it's in fact false, in many ways it's false. [32]

bc:  so what do you think of the issue of fringe science and the aether? what do you, how do you deal with traditional scientists who may view this as a fringe science, the people who explore the aether?

hh:  well, it's easy to consider it a fringe science because, of course, most of the people who are exploring this are doing it without funding and it's usually out of an absolute passion for the subject and a drive - you know, a lot of people are absolutely convinced that this exists, and this is their life's work in many ways; their inventions and their explorations.

on the other hand, a lot of these people have day jobs and often they are electrical engineers or they are working within the academic structures or whatever.

but then of course there's the people who believe Tesla was from another planet and that he was sent from another civilization, to impart this knowledge to other people. Tesla's legacy attracts a large contingent of fringe activity, that's for sure.

bc:  and it seems like a lot of energy research is shrouded in mystery... energy research is shrouded in a type of mystery... [33]

hh:  science fiction.

bc:  well, that there is danger involved and there's an edge to this type of research, and so do you think this is going on whether or not it's, via governments and things, whether or not it's 'public' - that people may be pursuing this research behind a shroud or something...

hh:  i'm not quite sure what you mean by 'behind a shroud', could you be more specific?

bc:  i mean, this is a central question for everybody, and yet it is only mediated publicly via...

hh:  in very mysterious ways?

bc:  what i am trying to get at is, uh, it seems that Tesla and the aether are central questions and yet they're perceived of as irrelevant in the popular approach. and so that seems to set up a kind of odd situation to question something that's supposedly so central and yet it has no place in the current order - so it seems shrouded in mystery in a way.

and also, that there's a lot of drama in these areas where people lose their jobs, or they don't get funding, or their funding gets cut, or whatever it might be...

hh:  i think it goes to the heart of many many issues, and i think wherever there's an issue of energy that all of those dynamics exist... when there's an issue of one system or even a system of knowledge that - if it were to become accepted would completely throw / discredit a whole other system, that's very much a part of it.

bc:  and so that's the danger.

hh:  of course it is, yes.

bc:  and that's been throughout the story of energy, i mean, in the 20th century with Westinghouse, Tesla... [34]

hh:  very much, very much... it's all been politics, and science, and history... there's so many different forces at play. but at the heart of any energy issue it seems there's issues of power and politics and control. the use and abuse of power.


hh:  so - what i'm trying to do in the film is to take this concept of the aether that comes from Tesla's understanding, it comes from a lot of different cultures... and i'm trying to compile a sort of common understanding, and to interpret it through music and sound and visual images...

– notes, part 2 –

[16]  vortex

[17]  On Vortex Atoms
By Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson)

[18]  Roger Joseph Boscovich

[19]  the tornado in the Wizard of Oz which transports Dorothy and Toto between different worlds could be considered symbolic of an aetheric vortex.

[20]  2D spiral symbol

[21]  'scalar' refers to longitudinal/standing waves and also the 'scalar electromagnetics' of Tom Bearden's and others' work. for more information, see:

What is "Scalar Electromagnetics"? - Rick Andersen

[22]  hh note:  in this interpretation, the negative charge of the earth and the positive charge of the ionosphere interact to create rotating positron-electron vortices. Tesla thought of the electron as a self-sustaining vortice of aether. electron charges form longitudinal standing waves. sound waves are also longitudinal, and form standing waves.

[23]  Transmission medium

[24]  bc note:  'sinking' as it may relate to grounding.

[25]  in other words, there is not one giant vortex and instead many little vortices, potentially occupying every point in space (e.g. every 'atom').

[26]  'Vortex Temporum' - Gérard Grisey

[27]  bc note:  the singular use of the plural of 'vortices' has been used in this text as a more accurate description of this dual nature of 'spirals' inside a single 'vortex'. this interview was transcribed from recorded speech, whereby it sounds more natural and correct to use the singular 'vortice' than the word vortex, which is then reflected in this written text. the concept described at this footnote should provide clarity as to the technical reason the decision was made to retain its original use.

[28]  yin and yang

[29]  Of Radiant Streams, composition, Helen Hall

[30]  Fibonacci spiral

[31]  Infinity Maps, composition, Helen Hall
(music for the film ~Pictures of Infinity)

[32]  Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

[33]  for instance, how energy research is depicted in Hollywood movies, especially in terms of government secrets and conspiracy theories.

[34]  War of the Currents

Wardenclyffe Tower