The House of Cannabis (THC NYC) has officially opened  its doors in New York.

Ten mind-bending, immersive experiences created by filmmakers as well as local and international artists transport guests through the many dimensions of cannabis culture.

THC is the first-ever, permanent home celebrating “high culture” and its enormous influence on music, art, fashion, social reform and agriculture. Housed in a 30,000 square foot, historic cast iron building, the new destination sits at the iconic intersection of Howard and Broadway in SoHo, New York.

Benjamin Gordon, a visual artist, composer and programmer, part of MATTE Talent network Originators, has created a sonic-visual installation now on show at the museum.

MATTE: In your own words, how do you describe “Higher Self”,  your installation at TheHouse of Cannabis (THC)?

BG: You view it laying down and if you have ever done a plant medicine ceremony it will feel very familiar.

Higher Self is a sonic/visual guided hypnosis that lives in The House of Cannabis (THC). It’s a purpose built room with a 40ft LED wave that wraps from the floor over your head with infinity mirrors on each side and speakers behind you.

MATTE: In which way you use AI and how this tool is impacting  your creative process?

AI has always interested me conceptually but it wasn’t until NVIDA introduced Progressive GAN that I really saw tactical value in the now.

BG: My background is in programming, I started making websites in the late 90’s and have been living on the edge of the internet growing with it since. I started experimenting with its public version (StyleGAN) in early2019 and has been a part of my process since

MATTE: As an artist,  have you always been investigating the connection between psychedelics and consciousness in your practice?

My whole world changed the first time I did a hero dose.

BG: There is no way to verbally articulate that experience, but I saw what is now my work for the first time in ultra ultra high definition. I had already been developing a software stack to help me with commercial work for many years and directly after the trip I started intuitively breaking it.

The broken code started generating bizarre results that reflected my psychedelic experience - A gift from god. Since then I've been using psychedelics regularly to access these dimensions - the art is a direct reflection of this.

MATTE: Can you share more about your creative process and how you create visuals? Is AI a recurring tool?

BG: Everything is vibration. The beginning of my process is fundamentally audio. Sound waves are converted to color spectrums, I have custom algorithms mostly based off sacred geometric principles that will distort the color spectrums. From here I have a stack of tools to merge these seeds with other data, AI is a part of this. I have been capturing and cataloging my life for around 5 years. I have servers filled with footage, conversations, audio,journals, screenshots, personal biometric data etc. This network of capture devices is always with me and always recording. All this data is fed into algorithms.

MATTE: You are nomadic, how much is this a part of your process?

BG: Comfort is a drug. I'm also hyper aware and sensitive to energy. Every part of the planet holds different energy to extract from. The work that manifests out of Greece is very different from the work that manifests from New York for example. I'm also not traveling light, All my equipment moves with me - this is extremely tedious. This tension is essential (at least for now), you can feel it in the work.

Then I’ve been using plants regularly to access these dimensions - the art is a direct reflection of this. My role as an artist is to catch the moments that make me feel the most. It’s a dance with the machine. I do this in real time - manipulating everything via physical audio and video equipment. I believe tension is necessary to create. Not having a nest has allowed me to push past my comfort zone.

MATTE: Is this the first installation that has been commissioned by a Museum? Can you share any  previous collaborations, installations or performances that you’ve been involved in and you consider relevant for your career?

BG: Last year I did an installation for MATTE Black 2022 in New York accompanied with a live performance of my process. That piece was sold and lives forever in this dope restaurant Stellas Cucina in Boulder Colorado. Another piece is currently featured in 2 songs on The Weeknd's global stadium tour. Various works were in Ye’s DONDA stadium listening parties. More recently we attached a heart rate monitor to Ye and plugged it directly into the algorithms - displaying it live across streaming platforms, IMAX theaters and a stadium in Miami.

MATTE: Are there any future collaborations that you want to share with us?

BG: None that I can speak about explicitly, but the first body of works for sale is in final stages.I have another large public physical installation in New York later in 2023 and things happening in Europe.

About the artist:

Benjamin Gordon (b. 1988, Sydney, Australia) is a visual artist, composer and programmer exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence, psychedelics and consciousness. Combining eastern knowledge and tradition with western technology, Gordon's work explores the duality of the human psyche — challenging modern conditioning, religion, the human perception of reality and the machines' connection with nature and humanity. Employing diverse medium combinations — including machine learning, coding, language, textiles, sound and light — he interpolates and captures the lapses in-between technology and the observer.


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Images Courtesy of Benjamin Gordon and THC NYC
Interview by Francesca Valente – Talent Director Originators by MATTE