Project: HipGnosis

What It Does

HipGnosis demonstrates several audio and visual techniques of inducing trance and altered states of consciousness:

  • a 220 bpm click track mixed with the hissing and popping of a record player (for atmosphere)
  • a rotating, black-and-white spiral that ultimately results in a motion aftereffect
  • subliminal stimuli
  • a repeating mantra
  • a sigil

How It Works

HipGnosis has five sprites and uses a global variable named hipgnotizing and the message hipgnotize to communicate and coordinate the sprites’ actions.

  • Controller — This sprite displays the instructions at the beginning, waits for you to click on the screen to begin, then changes the variable hipgnotizing from 0 to 1 and broadcasts the message hipgnotize to the other sprites. Then Controller plays the audio file clickTrack for one minute (you may increase or decrease this time by editing the argument in the wait () seconds block, but n.b. the clickTrack audio is only two minutes long in total), after which it switches the hipgnotizing variable back to 0, plays the electricity audio file until it is done, then stops the entire project.
  • Sigil — Displays the sigil.
  • Mantra — When this sprite receives the hipgnotize message from Controller, it begins playing two mantra audio files (one 0.3 seconds behind the other) over and again with a one-second delay between plays. This repeats until the Controller changes the hipgnotizing variable back to 0.
  • Spiral — When this sprite receives the hipgnotize message from Controller, it rotates slowly until the hipgnotizing variable changes to 0, at which point it hides to reveal the sigil.
  • SubMssg (subliminal message) — Randomly flashes a red image of the Bowl of Hygieia. You can make the image appear more or less often by editing the second argument in the pick random (1) to (50) block.

The mantra is XIQUAL INGOZH PHA LA, which is Ouranian-Barbaric for “phenomenizing trance.” The audio was generated with a text-to-speech synthesizer and a technique used to make the weird speech of the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks:1 I had the synthesizer pronounce the mantra backward (ALL OFF ZOGNI LAW-KEYS), and then I reversed the audio in the Scratch sound editor.

Make It Better

There are countless ways you could change up this project with different sigils, mantras, or other mind-bending sounds or images. Experiment with various tones and frequencies, colors, &c.


The following third-party media were used in making this project:

  1. See this tutorial for more about how to do that.