The Mysterious Integratron, Joshua Tree & Desert Christ Park, 6 November 2010
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Elizabeth decided to celebrate her birthday - two months after her actual birthday - by getting a fun group of people together and spending the entire evening making music in the Integratron, out in the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park.

I got there a little early, wandered the park, and laid against a warm rock and read a book.

I left the Joshua Tree National Park after a few hours, thinking that Desert Christ Park in nearby Yucca Valley would be a great place to catch the golden sunset of the desert.  And somehow it seemed a fitting thing to do before going to the Integratron.

But just what is Desert Christ Park?

It's a park featuring the work of Antone Martin and his concrete tribute to Jesus.  Desert Christ Park features forty white concrete statues and images portraying scenes of Christ's life and teachings, sculpted in the 1950s, and dedicated on Easter 1951. For the next ten years, the former aircraft worker sculpted these statues and reliefs.

The Lord watches over his flock, which in this case includes Joshua Trees, sand, and over 40 larger-than-life concrete sculptures of himself depicted in various scenes from The Good Book.

The larger-than-lifesize groups and individual figures express Antone Martinís dedication to the concept of peace and good will on earth, and his hope that his works may bring mankind together in peace and love for one another and for Christ.

Desert Christ Park bathed in the golden rays of the setting son, Yucca Valley, near Joshua Tree National Park...and the Integratron, where I'd be going in just a short while to meet up with friends.

A one-armed Jesus with children as the sun begins melting into the horizon.

This was the first statue erected by Antone Martin, a 10-foot statue of Jesus Christ with his arms out-stretched, weighing three tons.  As with all the statues, this statue is made of steel-reinforced concrete, hand-finished with a white paint/plaster mixture.

Unfortunately, as I was enjoying the golden hues of the sunset, the sun hid behind some clouds.  I patiently waited, camera in hand, for a break in the clouds so I could get this golden hue on the statue.  The sun peaked out again for about ten seconds, and I managed to get this last shot of the Jesus statue.

I realized I was starving.  No matter.  I had some homemade pizza from the night before, which I devoured in the Evangelical Church parking lot before driving back down the hill and up the 247 toward Landers...and the mysterious Integratron.


I drove up the 247 toward Landers, arriving at the Integratron, about 15 miles from Route 62. 

The Integratron.  For over 20 years, I had always wanted to have a sound bath in the Integratron.  And now, I was not only about to have one, I was about to stay overnight and play music with some friends!

But just what is the Integratron? 

The Integratron was created by George Van Tassel, an aeronautical engineer and test pilot who worked for Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft, and alongside Howard Hughes at Hughes Aviation.  He also held annual Spacecraft Conventions and meditation sessions by Giant Rock for 25 years, claiming that this led to channeling to information psychically transmitted to him from UFOs.  This psychic information, as well as ideas from Nikola Tesla, influenced the unique architecture of the Integratron, which took 18 years to construct.

Van Tassel claimed that his Giant Rock meditations also led to an encounter with extraterrestrials in August 1953, when a saucer from the planet Venus landed and whisked him up in their ship.  There, the aliens shared with him a technique for rejuvenating living cell tissues.  Shortly after this, Van Tassel and his family began constructing the Integratron to perform this rejuvenation.  George describes the Integratron as "a machine, a high-voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies to recharge the cell structure."

In 1947, after a career in aviation, Van Tassel moved his family to Giant Rock in the Mojave Desert near Landers, California and opened Giant Rock Airport and a cafe called The Come On Inn. He leased four square miles of land from the government, including Giant Rock, a 7-story high, freestanding boulder formerly sacred to the Native Americans who lived in the area.


The photo is of quartz bowls, specially created for the Integratron, which are played for the sound bath. New owners now operate the Integratron, and expose people to the harmonic frequencies of the bowls being played during a sound bath. The unique acoustical properties of the domed Integratron - their website claims "it is the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S." - created a beautiful experience for us, as we laid on the comfortable padding and blankets and absorbed the sound.  The quartz bowls are played in a similar manner to how one would play Tibetan singing bowls.

I laid near the bowls.  However, because of the acoustical properties of the dome, the bowls sounded like they were emanating from everywhere, not simply next to where I was laying.  The frequency beating of the various bowls was extremely pronounced.  The person said to fill yourself with gratitude.  Thinking this was a good idea, I did just that, and to my surprise, I stayed with it for most of the time.  Toward the end, much of what I was grateful for unfolded quickly, often in unexpected ways, continually unfolding without me having to really focus as much on the feeling of gratitude. All in all, the sound bath seemed to pass quickly.  I could not tell if my cell tissue was rejuvenated, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole sound bath experience.

Shortly after the sound bath, we began setting up our equipment, including a small PA system loaned to us by Dublab.

Like many domes, someone could be on the other side of the dome and speak, and it would sound as if they were right next to you.  A smaller dome on the property, which served as an eating place, was even more pronounced in this quality.

Since I was in the desert for a few hours before arriving at the Integratron, I brought things that wouldn't be affected by the heat in the car, bringing instead some Tibetan bowls and a Korg MS-20 analog synthesizer.  To my surprise, someone else brought a Korg MS-10.


Continuing on with the story of the Integratron...

The Van Tassel family hosted their UFO conventions at Giant Rock for almost 20 years to raise money for constructing The Integratron and asked supporters for donations. In 1959, 11,000 people attended the spacecraft convention, and Van Tassel continued to work on the Integratron while writing a number of books on time travel and rejuvenation. Van Tassel died suddenly in 1978, after which the buildings at Giant Rock were vacated and gradually vandalized until the Bureau of Land Management found it necesary to bulldoze the remains.

After Van Tassel's death, there was a proposal to turn the Integratron into a disco, but this never materialized.  New owners offer sound baths, and you can, as we did, rent the Integratron overnight.  I have an interest to record Linda Perhacs or others in the Integratron and get out of Blueberry Buddha studios for a weekend.

But we did record this time.  I believe it was John who brought a laptop, recording much of our improvisations on Logic with a combination of microphones some of us brought.  I am excited to hear this soon!

Laptops and unique controllers and the sonic fun that they can produce.

Mitch Brown manipulating one of his many tape loops.

Someone I hadn't seen in years, Sara, also took part in the festivities.  She told me about her fascinating trip to Tibet, circumambulating Mt. Kailash.  This is one of my dream trips.  She also impressed me with her ability to sleep through all manner of racket that we created, even snoozing through much of the sound bath.

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Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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The Integratron, Joshua Tree, Desert Christ Park, 6 November 2010
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