Eric William Carroll: Psychokinesis Tests

Between 1979 and 2007, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research group —established by Robert G. Jahn, the University’s Dean of Engineering—studied “psychokinesis” or mind control and possible influences of the human mind on physical reality, engineering systems, and data processing systems. The group’s findings proved controversial, particularly when they proved to be difficult for other scientists to replicate or confirm. Years later, Eric William Carroll learned about this research and, given his interests in science and pseudo-science, devised a project in which voluntary participants were asked to try to control the outcome of events—such as coin tosses and the rolling of dice—through intense concentration. His photographs of them, made at the Minnesota State Fair and at the Walker Art Center, have the “look” of science about them. They show subjects in front of a gridded backdrop that intentionally (and humorously) recall the backgrounds in Eadweard Muybridge’s ground-breaking animal locomotion images. But it is neither visible evidence nor usable data that is documented in or even the subject of Carroll’s photographs, but rather what he calls a “look at the excitement, disappointment, and concentration” of those engaged in the “theater of science.”