Engineering for the Human Spirit:
From Gentle Wind Project to I Ching Systems, 1983-2022
Theta, New York
January 11—February 11, 2023
Press Release | Checklist | Theta | CAD | ICS

New York Times, February 2, 2023
Artforum, January 30, 2023
Manhattan Art Review, February 10, 2023

I Think of a Mustard Seed as a Battery:
From Gentle Wind Project to I Ching Systems, 1983-2022

Song Cycle no. 6

10 ¼ × 6 ¾ inches, 16 pages, with color plates
Essay by Nick Irvin
Edition of 200

The Gentle Wind Project was established in 1983 as a not-for-profit research center dedicated to the development of “healing instruments” drawing from its founders’ idiosyncratic system of beliefs. Incorporating elements of traditional Chinese medicine, electromagnetism, particle physics, color theory, homeopathy, and the I Ching, the healing instruments were intended to go beyond the banal insufficiency of mainstream therapies, and to heal the body and spirit on a material, “structural” level.

Through regular use, Gentle Wind Project's colorful and elaborately designed rods, pucks, consoles, and cards were meant to repair and realign the body’s electromagnetic field. Their designs, however, are not mere decoration: color, line, and shape are as essential to the tools’ operation as the homeopathic materials embedded in them. According to founder Mary Miller, colors are “three-dimensional formations of subatomic particles,” and thus material. The instruments’ filigrees of vector, gradient, and curve are, by some secret language, transitive.

In the early 2000s, the group was subject to a fraud investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, as well as a slew of internet campaigns devoted to debunking the instruments and the group. Since then, the Gentle Wind Project has been commonly referred to as a “cult”.

In 2007 the State of Maine forced the Gentle Wind Project to disincorporate and leave the state. They quickly reformed as Family Systems Research Group, and later became I Ching Systems and Artworks, the name by which they are known today.

But it was in this middle phase, after the dissolution of their non-profit status and before incorporating the category of “Artwork” into their name, that the group had a moment of contact with the art world. In 2007 they had an exhibition at Feature Inc., the pioneering, independent-spirited commercial gallery owned and operated by the gallerist Hudson (1950-2014), who had early showings of artists such as Charles Ray, Richard Prince, Vincent Fecteau, B. Wurtz, and Takashi Murakami, among others. Holland Cotter reviewed the show favorably for the Times.

Looking at the materials from the Feature show, what has always struck me is that this presentation of the group seemed entirely *sincere*. At no point is there any wink, any suggestion of bad faith on the gallery’s part. This became all the more striking when I learned that the group’s courtroom dramas had concluded, unfavorably for the group and in public, the year before the show. Hudson's decision to show these works, even then, seemed to convey his faith — if not in the tenets of Gentle Wind outright, at least a faith in those who seek some kind of otherwise. Utopia and art have a long, fabled history — so do art and cults — but to show this material in New York, already so secular and commercialized by 2007, seemingly in complete earnest, is to my mind remarkable.

It would be easy to insert our own sneer here, with the distance of time and non-affiliation. In fact, I think we’re conditioned to it in this golden age of cult documentaries and true crime podcasts, which ask so little of their subjects, sensationalizing their stories with sociopathic glee. Their makers see themselves as too safely removed, too comfortable. This exhibition, along with the publication we’ve made for it, are an attempt at a more imbricated portrait, an attempt to do something other than plain advocacy or snide derision. I think of the attempt as “ambivalent” — not in the sense of indifference, but in the sense of dual valences. On the one hand, there's Hudson’s sincerity — his belief in belief, and its relation to art — which I hope to hold in view, in tension, with the other, less rosy aspects of telling the history of this organization.

At bottom, this project is about art, belief, and law.

— Nick Irvin

Thanks to Jordan Barse, Madeline Olson, Becca Abbe (Cdxs L.L.C.), Amalia Ulman, Peter Currie, Dennis Witkin, Stephen Faught, Cora Walters, Emma Burke, The Earl of Sandwich Motel, Sandwich, MA; The Palmer House Inn, Falmouth, MA; and Lee and Shelley of I Ching Systems and Artworks.

I Ching Artworks
Personal Balanced Space Ver 5.3.3, 2022
Laminated paper, magnets
35 ½ × 23 ¼ inches

I Ching Artworks
A Personal Hexagram, 2013
Acrylic on printed canvas
18 × 14 inches

Gentle Wind Project
Photon Health Accelerator Ver 3.1, 2002
Laminated wood, delrin, acrylic, laminated symbols, magnets, herbal formulas
5 ¼ × 15 ¼ × 3 ¾ inches

Gentle Wind Project
Universal Healing Cube, 2001
Clear lexan, PVC pipe, laminated symbols, magnets & herbal formulas
10 × 10 × 10 inches

I Ching Systems
Personal Alignment Pack II Ver. 0.10, 2015
Laminated card
11 × 17 inches

Family Systems Research Group
Soft Sleep Ver 8.2, 2008
Laminated card, copper strip
5 ½ × 7 ½ inches

Family Systems Research Group
Trauma Card 4 + Combat Fatigue, Ver 0.003, 2007
Laminated card, aluminum and copper tape
5 ⅝ × 7 ⅝ inches

Gentle Wind Project
Trauma Card 2 + Combat Fatigue Ver 17.0, 2006
Laminated card
4 ½ × 6 ½ inches

Gentle Wind Project
System 10.51, ca. 2006
Delrin, acrylic, laminated symbols, herbal formulas, tuning forks
8 × 10 × 6 inches

From left to right:
I Ching Systems, Advanced Rod, 1990, acrylic with laminated symbols, copper band, herbal formula, 11 ⅞ × 1 ¼ inches
I Ching Systems, Rod of Light, 1989, acrylic with laminated symbols, herbal formula, 9 ½ × 1 ¼ inches
Gentle Wind Project, Rod of Light, 1988, acrylic, copper, herbal formula, 7 ½ × 1 ¼ inches

I Ching Artworks
The Rainbow Bridge, Ver. 1.2, 2016
PVC, laminated symbols with herbal formulas & magnets
12 × 8 × 8 inches

I Ching Systems
The Pizza, 2017
Laminated cards, wooden color panels
3 × 10 ½ × 10 ½ inches

Gentle Wind Project
Physical Alignment Set 2, ca. 2000 (pictured in use)
Delrin, colored acrylic, laminated symbols, herbal formulas & magnets, metal handles
2 parts, each 2 ½ 12 × 8 inches

From left to right:
I Ching Artworks
Little Woodie Wonder, 2016, laminated cards, wood, 3 ¾ × 2 ¼ × ⅝ inches
Super Woodie Wonder 2, 2016, laminated cards, wood & delrin layers, 4 × 2 ¼ × 1 ⅛ inches
Super Woodie Wonder 3, 2017, laminated cards, wood & delrin layers, 4 × 2 ¼; × 1 ⅛ inches
Woodie Time Gate, 2016, laminated cards, wood and delrin layers, aluminum and copper tape, 4 × 2 ¼ × 1 ⅜ inches
Super Woodie Wonder 4, 2018, laminated cards, wood layers, magnet, 4 × 2 ¼ × 1 ⅛ inches

Family Systems Research Group
Rainbow Bridge Ver 2.0, 2007
Delrin, black acrylic, laminated symbol, herbal formula
3 ⅞ × 3 ⅞ × ⅝ inches

Gentle Wind Project
Rainbow Puck 9.1, ca. 2005
Delrin, colored acrylic, laminated symbol, herbal formula
2 × 4 × 4 inches

Gentle Wind Project
Super Puck, 2001
Delrin, laminated symbol, colored acrylic, herbal formulas
1 ¾ × 4 × 4 inches

Gentle Wind Project
Puck-Puck, 2001
Plastic, paper, sand, homeopathic compounds, tuning forks, hardware
8 × 3 ½ × 3 ½ inches

From left to right:
Review of Gentle Wind Project’s exhibition at Feature Inc. by Holland Cotter in the New York Times, October 26, 2007
Feature Inc. exhibition documentation, printed press release and show postcard, 2007

I Ching Artworks
PDST* Blok Stack Version 2.1, 2019
*Personal Disaster Stress Technology
Laminated card with aluminum and copper strips
7 ⅝ × 4 ⅞ inches

I Ching Systems
A Combat Soldiers Journey Ver 1.212, 2014
(Free for veterans)
Laminated card
7 ¼ × 4 ⅝ inches

I Ching Systems
Advanced Color Cord System, 2017 (pictured in use)
Colored ropes, colored acrylic rods with coils & herbal formulas sealed inside, laminated cards
Dimensions variable

Gentle Wind Project
Advanced Rod, ca. 2004
Delrin, epoxy colors, herbal formulas
1 ¾ × 12 × 1 ¾ inches

I Ching Artworks
Fibonacci Life Path for “Erika Newton”, 2022
Laminated paper
34 ½ × 52 ¾ inches

The Women’s Connection with Barrie-Louise Swintzen
Broadcast 8/7/2001: Gentle Wind Project (link)

The Women’s Connection with Barrie-Louise Swintzen
Broadcast 8/7/2001: Gentle Wind Project

I Ching Artworks
Advanced Alignment & Balancing Rods, 2013
Wooden rods, plastic puck, two wooden blocks, and photo of use
Dimensions variable