Psychic TV

Houghton Library Blog 2016-07-14

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.



On Easter Sunday in 1984, English experimental video art and music group Psychic TV conducted a performance at the Massachusetts College of Art. Physic TV members Genesis P-Orridge and John Gosling were interviewed after this performance, an interview in which they were questioned about the various influences for their art, which included a focus on occultism, serial killers, and bondage, and body modification/mutilation. The performance in Boston included “a tape loop of Aleister Crowley chanting to evoke demons,” backing video featuring PTV members having their genitalia pierced, and “other assorted bondage and discipline films,” along with footage of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Roman Polanski. It was paired with a sister event in Reykjavik, Iceland on Good Friday, and Physic TV members hoped that there would be a noted “psychick” influence between the two.



Genesis P-Orridge would continue Psychic TV through the present day, with some breaks in-between. Born in Manchester, Genesis founded the music and performance collective COUM Transmissions in 1969, which evolved into industrial band Throbbing Gristle in 1976. As with the Psychic TV performance previously described, Throbbing Gristle used disturbing and controversial imagery in their performances, including photographs of Nazi concentration camps. Their hope to provoke the audience into extracting themselves from the mainstream and thinking individually earned them an association with the rising anarchist punk scene. Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981, with Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson moving on to form Psychic TV. It has since had two revivals, from 2004-2010, and from 2011 to the present day.


The pamphlet pictured here includes the transcription of the post-Massachusetts College of Art Easter Sunday performance interview with Genesis P-Orridge and John Gosling, in which the pair discuss their goals for their performance group, the often controversial influences upon their art, and the way the English government has attempted to silence dissenting voices. Accompanying the pamphlet is an audio cassette tape containing audio from the interview.


To learn more about Physic TV and Genesis P-Orridge’s other projects, visit their website here. The Psychic TV interview pamphlet and accompanying audio cassette can be found in Widener’s collection: Boston: John Ze’Wizz, 1984.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.