Experimentum Crucis – a cold cell

Experimentum crucis – the decisive experience, literally “the experience of the cross”, sometimes called “critical experiment” – an experiment which outcome uniquely determines whether a particular theory or hypothesis is correct. This experiment should give a predicted result, that can’t be withdrawn from the other common hypotheses and theories.

1646_AthanasiusKircher-Camera-Obscura-frArsMagnusLucisEtUmbrae-OFFICIALAthanasius Kircher depicts a practical camera obscura in Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (The Great Art of Light and Shadow)

“Experimentum Crucis” was filmed in 1995 and took place on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan in a children colony. It was documented by a man who spent more than 10 years working at this institution.
Transcriptions were made by Ivgheny Kosthin.

” …I worked in the colony from 1983 till 1995 as a psychiatrist. This position was introduced in 1983, in connection with the anti-alcohol campaign in the Soviet Union, and increased suicidal tendencies in the institutions of this type…
…At the end of 80s the so called humanization process started. Colonies began to exchange some positive experiences. I offered our heads to buy some photo and video equipment to share our achievements. We bought a “Krasnogorsk” 16mm camera, tapes, photo cameras and slide projectors…
…We were making movies, slides and traveled to various conferences. What were we demonstrating? “Proper” events: prisoners visiting the city, working in collective farms, building of rehab areas, patronage after the release and so on. In parallel I was filming the hidden prisoner’s life: tattoos, relationships – the so-called negative colony phenomena. As for me personally, this subculture was much more interesting than soviet propaganda…
…In 1993 a friend of mine gifted me a Panasonic 9000, the videocamera with capabilities of which stunned me much. I no longer needed to sit in the darkroom for days! So with this camera the whole process started … ”

Taras Popov (writer and director)


What happened?
Sore throat.
I swallowed the cross.
How did you do it?
At first I sharpened it from the metal wire. Then we went to the zona, i found a string. Then I took a piece of bread from dinner, the inner side (“myakushka”). I overlaid the cross with bread, shook it and swallowed. And it stuck. I hoped that it will reveal in the stomach, but it stuck. And revealed here.
Why did you do that ?
In the zona it was unbearable. I was tired.

(00:20 – 1:20)

You can watch the entire video below.