The IntegratronGeroge Van Tassel (1910-1978)
About the Artist/Site
In the late 1940s, George Van Tassel left the aircraft industry and moved his family to live in the remote California desert beside a large boulder, Giant Rock, near Joshua Tree. Here he operated an airfield and a small café, and hosted group meditations in an underground room constructed by the rock’s previous tenant. In 1953, Van Tassel reported being visited by a group of benevolent Venusians who instructed him to build the Integratron, a two-story wooden dome designed to function as a multipurpose healing machine. Construction began a year later, funded by members of Van Tassel’s Ministry of Universal Wisdom, Inc., and revenue from an annual Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention.
The Integratron is conceived not as architecture but as a functional “high-voltage electrostatic generator,” drawing inspiration from sources including Nikola Tesla and the book of Exodus. This “21st century version of the tabernacle” is constructed entirely of wood and fiberglass, without the use of any nails or screws. A donut of cement functions as a weight at the apex of the dome, forming a small oculus. The structure is ringed by a rotating wheel of metal spikes, while what resembles scaffolding curves down the rear. Entering the Integratron, a spiral of wiring hangs overhead on the dark ground floor, while the spacious second story provides a 360-degree view of the high desert from fifteen windows. Van Tassel’s equipment and other furnishings do not remain. As a construction that supposes a useful connection between electrical energy and spirituality, the Integratron has much in common with Emery Blagdon’s Healing Machine, as well as New Age products such as energy pyramids and “orgone accumulators.”
George Van Tassel died in 1978, with work on the Integratron still incomplete. His epitaph, said to be channeled from an extraterrestrial, reads, “Birth through Induction . . . Death through Short Circuit.” He is remembered today as a key figure of the Contactee movement, an early wave of self-identified UFO abductees who promoted various utopian philosophies. Ownership of the Integratron changed hands several times through the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the building was consistently maintained. Now privately owned, the Integratron promotes public “sound baths” in its “acoustically perfect wooden dome,” and can be rented for events and spiritual retreats.
Curran, Douglas. In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space. New York: Abbeville, 2001.
Map & Site Information
2477 Belfield Boulevard, 92285
Latitude/Longitude: 34.2934907 / -116.4039769
Joshua Tree, California
Yucca Valley, California
Yucca Valley, California
Twentynine Palms, California
Palm Springs, California