gabrielle stichweh

Hello. I’m Gabrielle. I am an artisan, designer, teacher, and learner. I work as the Prototyping Technician at UC’s Ground Floor Makerspace, which fosters my passion for fabrication, skill sharing, and learning new things.







Vast Active Living Intelligence System

VALIS stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, a concept discovered by the science fiction author Philip K. Dick. In Dick's works, VALIS is a metaphysical force that manifests itself in various forms, including as a beam of pink light that transmits divine knowledge into his own mind, and to the protagonist of his story.

VALIS is often interpreted as representing the quest for truth and meaning in life, and the idea that there is a higher intelligence or consciousness that transcends the mundane world. The concept has been explored in various forms of art and literature, and has inspired philosophical and religious discussions about the nature of reality.

“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn't we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it's as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can't explain his to us, and we can't explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication ... and there is the real illness.”

“The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides taught that the only things that are real are things which never change... and the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught that everything changes. If you superimpose their two views, you get this result: Nothing is real.”
“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

Jung’s Collective Unconscious

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, proposed the concept of the collective unconscious, which refers to the deepest and most inaccessible layer of the unconscious mind shared by all human beings.

According to Jung, the collective unconscious is made up of archetypes, which are universal symbols, patterns, and motifs that are present in the myths, stories, and religions of all cultures. Archetypes are inherited potentials or predispositions for certain ways of experiencing and responding to the world, and they influence our behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

Jung believed that the collective unconscious is not a personal or individual experience, but a shared and transpersonal one that connects us to the larger human experience. He also believed that accessing and integrating the archetypes and symbols of the collective unconscious could help individuals achieve greater self-awareness and personal growth.


Philip K. Dick's VALIS concept is often seen as having similarities with Carl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious. Both concepts propose that there is a layer of consciousness that is beyond the individual or personal experience, and that is shared by all human beings.

Jung's collective unconscious is made up of archetypes that are inherited potentials or predispositions for certain ways of experiencing and responding to the world, while Dick's VALIS is a metaphysical force that manifests itself in various forms, including as a beam of pink light that transmits divine knowledge to the protagonist of the story.

Both concepts also suggest that accessing this deeper layer of consciousness can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth. However, while Jung's collective unconscious is based on a psychological understanding of the human mind, Dick's VALIS is more explicitly spiritual or religious in nature.

Joseph Cornell’s Christian Science

Joseph Cornell, the American artist known for his box constructions and collages retained a spiritual and metaphysical outlook throughout his life. He was interested in a wide range of mystical and esoteric traditions, including Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, and Sufism, and he saw his art as a way of connecting with a higher spiritual reality.

Cornell believed in the power of the mind and imagination to shape reality. He saw his box constructions as portals or gateways to other worlds, where the laws of physics and logic could be suspended and new possibilities could emerge. He also believed in the transformative power of art, and saw his works as vehicles for spiritual transcendence and healing.

Cornell’s work was a way to organize the sensual (material) world into the conceptual realm advocated by Christian Science.

collage = reality


Christian Scientists believe that the physical world is an illusion and that true reality is spiritual, while also emphasizing the importance of prayer and the understanding of God's nature in achieving spiritual healing. Similarly, the concept of the collective unconscious and the VALIS experience both suggest that there may be deeper, more fundamental levels of reality beyond the physical world, and that accessing or understanding these levels can have transformative effects on consciousness and experience.

In Christian Science, there is a belief in an all-knowing, all-loving God who is constantly present and active in the world. In the concept of the collective unconscious, this might be interpreted as a kind of universal intelligence or wisdom that is accessible to all individuals. Similarly, in the VALIS experience, Philip K. Dick suggests that he has come into contact with a higher intelligence that has revealed to him deep truths about the nature of reality.

Dick’s Religious Truth

In his early writings, Dick expressed a belief in a Christian God and a divine plan for the universe, but he also questioned traditional Christian teachings and became interested in Gnosticism, a mystical tradition that emphasizes direct personal experience of the divine. He believed that there was a hidden reality beyond the everyday world, and that humans could access this reality through mystical experiences and altered states of consciousness.

Dick’s VALIS trilogy is based on a schizophrenic experience he had in his own life, where the presence of a woman wearing a gold fish necklace preceded a beam of pink light which allowed him to gain impossible knowledge about himself and those around him. He believed, at least in part, that this light had allowed him to transcend time, and granted him access to some universal and spiritual truths. 


In "VALIS," Dick explores the idea of a divine intelligence that communicates with humanity, which some have read as a modern-day interpretation of the Christian concept of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, Dick's interest in Gnostic Christianity, which is based on the idea of secret knowledge or gnosis, is reflected in his works, including "VALIS" and "The Divine Invasion."

In "VALIS," the protagonist experiences a series of mystical revelations that suggest that his own mind is responsible for creating the reality he experiences, and that he can use his mind to transform that reality. At the same time, there is an aknowledgment of a greater truth beyond the protagonist or the self- a truth that can only be accessed by humans through very specific experiences or tools. If those tools are used or if a transcendent power chooses to grant a person access, the truth of the universe and human experience may begin to show itself to any man.

Part 1: Boxes

Anagogical Transcendence Through Strange Tools

The aim of this project is to explore the formation of strange tools, as discussed by philosopher Alva Noe. The project will involve the creation of six physical artifacts that incorporate elements of Cornell's Christian Scientist beliefs, Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, and imagery and themes inspired by Philip K Dick's VALIS concept.

Through this approach, I hope to explore the ways in which strange tools can be used to create works of art that challenge our assumptions and invite us to think more deeply about the world around us. By connecting Dick’s bold ideas and tendency toward the spectacular to the philosophical and religious ideas of the other influencers, I aim to create artifacts that are visually engaging, intellectually challenging, and confounding.

Each artifact will be designed to evoke a sense of mystery and wonder, drawing the viewer in and encouraging them to explore the intricate details of the ideas in the work. Through this project, I hope to offer viewers a new perspective on the concept of strange tools, what a tool is, and where the boundaries of our credulity could lie.

The Shadow
The shadow exists in the collective unconscious, which is the repository of shared human experiences and memories. Jung believed that confronting and integrating the shadow is an important aspect of psychological growth and individuation. Failure to do so can lead to psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, and addiction, as well as social and political conflicts.

When the shadow is projected onto others or onto social groups, it can become a source of fear and intolerance, leading to prejudice, discrimination, and violence. The shadow can also be associated with evil or malevolence in mythologies and horror stories, representing the darker aspects of human nature that threaten our sense of safety and security. This association with fear and trauma can make us push the shadow to the side, accepting its manifestations only in forms that we are able to categorize as completely ‘other’ than ourselves.

Morphed Hand
A constant image in all variety of horror-based media, a disfigured body can represent the darker aspects of humanity that we try to push away or ignore. It can be a physical embodiment of the horrors that humans are capable of, such as violence, abuse, and neglect. By seeing the disfigured body, we are forced to associate the alien and disgusting with our own bodies, and consider the possibilities our psyche may prefer to deny or avoid.

The Hero
The hero archetype represents the idealized image of a brave, strong, and virtuous individual who embarks on a journey or quest to overcome challenges, confront obstacles, and ultimately achieve a great goal or victory. The hero archetype is often associated with courage, determination, self-sacrifice, and an unwavering commitment to a higher cause or purpose.

The hero archetype involves a journey or quest, which can be a source of awe-inspiring experiences. The hero's journey often involves encountering unfamiliar and often dangerous territories, facing daunting challenges and obstacles, and overcoming them through courage, skill, and perseverance. These experiences can elicit a sense of awe and wonder, as we witness the hero's remarkable feats and see the power of the human spirit in action.

Shinji Ikari
By following the hero's journey and overcoming obstacles, the hero can inspire a sense of reverence and wonder in the face of the unknown, and a sense of connection with something larger than oneself. While this transition can further the hero’s understanding of himself and his place in a larger context, grappling with that journey and arrival at the ‘end’ may be both awful and terrible.

The Persona
The persona is the mask or social façade an individual presents to the world. It's the way a person wants to be seen by others and how they choose to present themselves to the outside world. According to Jung, the persona is a necessary aspect of the psyche, allowing individuals to interact with society and present themselves in a socially acceptable manner. However, he also believed that an over-identification with the persona could lead to a loss of connection with one's true self and the development of a false sense of identity.

The persona serves an important function in helping individuals adapt to social situations and interact with others in a way that is socially acceptable. By putting on a persona, we can feel more confident and secure in our interactions with others, as we have a pre-established way of presenting ourselves that is accepted and expected by society. This can help us avoid feeling vulnerable or exposed, as we can maintain a sense of control over how we are perceived by others. However, the persona can also be a source of stress and tension, as individuals may feel pressure to maintain a certain image or identity that is not in line with their true selves.

Protected Egg
The egg contains the potential for new life and development, but it requires the right conditions (the warmth of the nest, the care of the parent bird) to fully hatch and grow. The egg is like the potential of the individual's true self, which is waiting to hatch and grow, while the nest represents the external influences that shape the development of the persona. Each persona that one may adopt in a different situation is only one section of a whole identity and is never a permanent status.

The Self
The self is the most comprehensive and complex of the archetypes, representing the wholeness and completeness of the human psyche. It is often represented symbolically as a mandala or a circle. The self is what we hope to integrate, or individuate, through careful contemplation and work on our own psyche.

In the context of the self-archetype, reflection involves a process of examining and integrating the various archetypes within the psyche, including the shadow, persona, anima/animus, and others. Through reflection, an individual can gain insight into their own motivations, desires, and behaviors, which can help them to achieve greater self-awareness and personal growth.

Framed Lens
This frame with the curved lens allows users to examine and compare subjects through it closely, looking at parts of themselves through a new perspective, and hopefully a different kind of criticality. Reflection can also help an individual to connect with the deeper aspects of the self, including their spiritual and creative potential. By examining their own experiences and exploring their inner world, an individual can tap into the transformative power of the self archetype, which can help them to move towards greater wholeness and integration of their personality.

The Anima/Animus
The anima (masc.) or animus (fem.) is the archetype that represents the unconscious feminine or masculine aspects of the psyche. It can manifest as qualities such as intuition, sensitivity, or aggressiveness. This is a reminder of the duality and conflict in us all

The integration of the anima archetype can be seen as a resolution of duality or conflict within the psyche, as the opposing qualities are no longer seen as mutually exclusive, but rather as complementary aspects of the self. By achieving this integration, people can achieve greater psychological wholeness and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Chi-Rho / Mark of Sacrifice
The Chi-Rho is an ancient Christian symbol meant to represent the sacrifice of Jesus christ, and his victory over evil. The Mark of Sacrifice is a modern pop culture reference to a brand put on the skin of those who will be killed by the God Hand. Both symbols represent sacrifice and the struggle against evil. They also both signify a commitment to a higher power and a willingness to endure suffering for a greater purpose. While the specific meanings and contexts of these symbols differ, they both share a deep significance and have been used to represent important ideas and values in their respective contexts.

The Trickster
The trickster archetype is a symbol that represents a mischievous or devious character who challenges social norms and conventions, often using humor or cleverness to do so. Tricksters are often associated with chaos and uncertainty, but they can also serve as agents of transformation and change. In many mythologies and cultures, tricksters are seen as catalysts for change and growth, pushing individuals and societies beyond their comfort zones and forcing them to confront their limitations and biases.

This archetype is often associated with playfulness, humor, and the unexpected. Tricksters are known for their ability to disrupt and challenge social norms and expectations and can be seen as agents of change and transformation, pushing individuals and societies beyond their comfort zones and forcing them to confront their limitations and biases.

They often use their wit and cleverness to subvert authority and create new possibilities. The fish in a box is surprising, and in some ways shocking- it does not fit exactly into the pattern established by the other tools. The fish is often associated with qualities such as playfulness, spontaneity, and unconventional thinking. It can move quickly and fluidly through its environment, often in unexpected ways. The moment a viewer opens the box to find this tool inside is a powerful experience of surprise, delight, and even shock. This is the most powerful experience imparted by the current suite of tools.

Use Of The Objects

These tools are an extension of the original manifestation of VALIS experienced and documented by Philip K Dick. They are a new, albiet imperfect, extension of the energy that he discovered.

When viewers interact with these pieces, the first moments of contact are the most important. Upon opening the boxes, a focus on the initial impression is vital. Once sense is made of the form inside, a brief meditation on the meaning of the object is encouraged- what does this look like? What does it make me think of? What broader cultural or emotional symbols may it be a reference to?

Once this first interaction is complete, viewers should close the box and latch it. Any impact should be recorded and referenced later.

These VALIS manifestations will not have the same effect on everyone. They may not even find the person in whom they could awaken a true VALIS experience.

This mission must be continued. We will keep experimenting in this realm of art, philosophy, and spirituality until such time as our ends are met.


“Just tell me why; why the fucking why?" To which the universe would hollowly respond, "My ways cannot be known, oh man." Which is to say, "My ways do not make sense, nor do the ways of those who dwell in me.”