Lecture from last week: David Haines 2007.
My body sings in every nerve ending as it glides towards a singing body.This singing body lives up to Spinoza’s expectation that “we don’t even know what a body is capable of “nor can “we know what a body is”.Since it was at once uncategorizable, without a proper name and yet undeniably there; Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?
This “Singing body” would call and I would levitate towards its sublime soundings by passing through bands of light and hovering motifs that resembled Japanese kites, – mind and body stretched on a rising polyphonic wave of motor-cross derived music.
Suburban creek and bush cave explorer, zones of intensity unfolded amongst wild fennel. Enfolded in balloon vine and touching the earth, grounding out a circuit that hurled each and every atom towards a deep and mysterious tidal pool at great-speed.It was brackish. For some moments I became the Martian landscapes of Daniel Paul Schreber.
The singing body – a plant being, animated geometry at the head and a non distinct mass at the base before me. Forming from a kind of image-light – a thin film of non- photons that appears not from daylight but from behind the eyes in the darkness of the skull. It was at once both a two dimensional and a three dimensional figure.
Light and colour manifest at the level of perception, the product of electrical energy. Receptors are stimulated & produce a change of state in the brain, in this case from a molecule that crosses the dermis via the lungs. What I was seeing was the light and colour of dreams during wakefulness. Perhaps a form of Anti- light and colour, like the place known as Antikythera (the opposite other) – a tiny island in the Ionian Sea, that sits next to the main island. Is this not then, the light and colour that sits to the side of sunlight,- a subteranean image field that manifests occasionally when awake, from the pockets and folds of the productive body and the chemical signals it produces. We are image factories. What is it about the molecule that allows one to produce everything internally – images and sounds ?
Generally, light and colour which hasn’t derived from the sun is considered to be artificial, an abberation. We know the common meaning of artificial “man made” but if we look back further we see it comes from the Latin “of or belonging to art,” from artificium. This is light derived inside the body at the level of perception. Some animals emit chemical light, producing bio-luminescance, but my feeling is that the images of perception that are lit up in dreams might be being formed at the sub-atomic level.
This notion of internalised light and colour, becomes an interesting, when we consider the role of the virtual camera in the production of images. This technology is central to many of the images we see today in cinema and photography – the camera doesn’t exist physically in the usual way. The camera is made up of binary code that acts as a data processor algorithmically working on sets of coordinates expressed as shaded values on a screen.
What is remarkable is that this is an image system that is beyond glass optics. A method of representation known as ray tracing, partially made possible and used by Descartes, in his analysis of rainbows.4. These images generated by computer are simulations that can seem so real as to easily convince the viewer that what they are seeing has been photographed conventionally. Raytracing uses a collection of formula of physical laws in a Cartesian coordinate space, to draw a picture. In short, ray-tracing is a system of virtual – photography. Technology occults, it de-conceals. Insistently, images are born out of the darkness of this mathematical universe. It’s like a miracle. The function of a wave.
Video art works are hallucinatory & luminous apparitions, cast as light on the wall of a gallery. A surface without substance – smooth space of the image, turned on and then off, in the same way a vision in the mind appears and disappears. This is dematerialised art as opposed to the fattiness of impasto, the heaviness of stone or the immobility of a stuffed cat, wrapped in sticky tape and melted plastic.
I discovered early on, that the actions of molecules produced events. In my current exploration of the molecular affects of the aromatic molecules of perfumery (and there role in the production of new types Post Object Art) we find ourselves swept up in another, (thankfully) far safer form of intoxication – one that is a powerful trigger of thoughts, sensations, memories and feelings.
Perfumes seem like intoxicants, far more benign than the aromatic – hydrocarbons that are central to the act of sniffing glue. Aromatic molecules enter the body and go very quickly to the brain. The mechanism of smell is not yet entirely understood. Some of the chemicals behind common perfumes are the starting materials of psychedelic tryptamines that have been thoroughly explored in organic chemistry and consumed throughout the twentieth century and explored for millennia as part of traditional religious rituals.5. Many of these precursors, are also found in food and knowledge of the interaction of some of the more challenging odorant molecules has helped inform the radical and fascinating food movement known as Molecular Gastronomy. A field that amounts to in some ways as the “high art” branch of the experimental culinary arts. Other aromatic molecules are known attractors in the world of animals.
Take a molecule like Indole, it is found in lots of places, in nature – Indole is an important perfumery molecule and is also a close relative to Serotonin, it also forms the central ring of LSD. It is said, that serotonin doesn’t smell like Indole because apparently it is non – volatile. Serotonin doesn’t fly like Indole. Its use in perfumery is because it is found in Orange Blossom and Jasmine and I suspect because it has a strong boosting effect, in the same way that your shit has a density to its odorousness. Its certainly has a feacal character.
Indole is found in pig’s liver, truffles and white chocolate and many other desirable foods. Once you know its bottom of grandma’s closet (napthalene – when in full concentration) you can smell it everywhere. Indole, in high concentrations (as a synthesised molecule) is downright faecal and with good reason, you would know it from the smell of your own shit which along with Scatol, the methylated version, is loaded with it. In extreme dilution it is rather pleasent. In spring, I can smell it in our garden and spring is that fragrant happy time when our mood lifts.
There are many examples of close resemblances to active molecules in perfumery. Calone, a synthetic ozonic, sea watery smelling molecule discovered by Pfizer in 1966, is used in large quantities in Issey Mayake and occurs in Brown Algae in nature, looks very close to its molecular relative Valium. Luca Turin entertainingly writes about this, in one of his perfume reviews in a Zurich magazine. Perfumery may be giving us homeopathic doses of these molecules and our bodies maybe doing things with them. This could be part of the mystery and allure of perfume.
Glue was a kind of perfume as well. It was a highly dangerous experimental perfume, that allowed interaction with another being in another time and space. It opened up the possibility of knowing a new language – instantly. This being and I experienced a form of empathogenic communication that existed in lines of coded melody. A record of these conversations where housed as zig-zagged golden amber needles, that where twisted into filigree constructions (like a pile of tossed yarrow stalks made of light, that then bent into a tangle of shapes) with tiny offshoot tendrils, forming an intricate open weaved and chaotic blanket hanging in space. A kind of wire-frame architectonics, something I would come to know later as resembling the wire frame sub-structure of 3d models. When the need arose, to recall some aspect of our dialogue, we would simply “draw from a kind of quiver thing” and the melodic phrase would sound and we would simultaneously listen, acknowledge the meaning of the melodic phrase and move on to the next stage of the conversation.
The dialogue no matter how far “out there,” always had the sense that there where levels and tasks to be undertaken. This gave a feeling of order and hierarchy to the situation. I also experienced this “order and hierarchy,” in a very different way in the “machines of delirium” that occurred as a child when affected by bouts of fever during illness. The “regime of power” that existed in that experience was a diabolical form of torture that conjured extreme terror and was anything but an encounter with an em pathogenic being, more like an encounter with “pure evil” and this tells me, we are a multiplicity of beings in a fleshy body. And Spinoza tells us that we are “An infinite number of attributes for any one substance”.
This “angel of the vines” communicated to me in a way that could only be described as completely compelling; an encounter with a powerful spiritual form. Through out my meetings with this unstable poly-morphology there was the constancy of a melodic refrain that functioned as a beacon, as a powerful lure through the blackness that reached out towards desire – desire to be in its aura.
Non organic life form – a gift in fading light. Substance less body into being – no skeletal structure required. You are high octane spirit – catalytic conversion from coal tar earth to “Hydrocarbon Angel”.
Projecting a field of radiance, a sensation permeated that I was meeting with a deeply feminine presence, that is very difficult to put into words. Representational signifiers had collapsed to be replaced by an almost total affective experience. This being, was wider at the base than at the top (figuration)- the perception of defined organs, body parts and structural elements that make up a sensible figure seemed almost redundant. The being was mostly a field of vibrational energy that had become like a living work of modern art albeit, one that exists in the virtual of the hallucination, rather than crossing over into the organic plane of the real.
Where the body is liberated from the things that hold it together;it confirms its extra – dimensionality.
This siren lived in the “smooth deeps” of a dark and unlimited mental void, always waiting just around the corner in a space beyond the terrestrial, inhabiting the celestial and infernal realms.
All the familiar features of flesh and blood had long departed into the outer reaches of time and space, to leave in its wake an afterimage, of what years later would become familiar when I saw the works of Duchamp & Brancusi. The realisation that they gave us the gift of images and objects of human forms, that had crossed the borders of the possible into new non-organic life forms. Always in motion, the idea of a body that surpasses meat and flesh, for one of light and space, a hyper criss-crossing of lines of pure pigment and shiny metal armour interlocking fragments that remained part of the whole. A construction of composites and fragmented crystalline hybrids that ultimately produce the authentic characters of art, in order to open up the possibility for the world of creatures to come; the creatures of anime, the horror film, photography and science fiction.
The work we make is filled to the brim with occulted inhabitations and haunting(s).
I grew up in a house that was said to be filled with spirits. I clearly remember my parents and their friends gathered around the Ouiji board talking to “people from the other side”. I remember the sounds of summer infused with Swedenbourg’s recordings of people speaking from the dead, crackling away on the record player between bursts of the soundtrack from Apocalypse Now, which interestingly for a cinema soundtrack is not just the musical parts, but the dialogue and sound effects as well. I enjoyed the arguments and debates that would take place with family members around the table that was a constant in the days before the internet appeared and colour television arrived making everyone silent. It’s from this background I guess, that a work like “The Door” becomes possible.
The synopsis of the work hinges on the combination of a number of seemingly unlikely events, that bring together the sounds of battle and deep thudding artillery.We hear the distant pulse of a dub reggae rave party with its voodoo call to the libido; poltergeists fly through the space from one speaker to the other. Logging trucks rumble and an opium induced voiceover whispers, recalling the arrival of “earth’s daughter” from the “other side.” She has finally come back to the community of tree dwellers, after ejecting from a time travelling space ship to meet with her boyfriend. Along the way, we learn of a green star that appeared above the horizon that brought great misfortune. We learn of some of the farming practices that take place within this so called “sustainable community,” all of this via the spooky intoxicated mumblings and slurring of some one who is under the influence.It’s a kind of junkie hippy narrative, meets a set from Nicholas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. Despite all of this, I simply wanted to make a luminous green work.
The characterisation solely takes place within the sound track of the work, making all of these events invisible to the eye, but alive to the ear.I wanted to make a work where the images of the characters appeared in the viewers head, rather than being seen on screen. I wanted the process of characterisation to be internalised, rather than external and I wanted to conjure ghosts. It was like a radio play in a strange and exotic setting. The sounds because of the audio technology of surround sound filled the space 3 dimensionally.
We see a two screen projection of an empty forest glowing in green luminous light. Bugs flitter in the air – the shadows move in the breeze. The forest is filled with sound.
The whole enterprise of cinema art is like a hallucinatory art – the art of assemblage, of sound colour and light that is projected. The computer is a machine that allows one to bring all of these thing together, it’s a kind of factory where a multiplicity of technologies exist, side by side, to produce these remarkable assemblages. When a work is successful, a great variety of elements come together to form a harmony, no matter how far away from each other in type, the elements seem to be. This potential for “difference” and synthesis to co-exist in a work of Art,is at the heart of novelty and for me is one of the most exciting aspects of the process of making art. Its like a new form of gymnastics – to make the body hold itself up in space in some interesting contorted positions, thus far unseen. The same thing then for ideas or materials, to make everything drunken and askew, frozen in time and space – a painting, a leap, a suspended white horse in the sky, a naked women fucks a cloud. (see fig 3.) Artists are human synthesisers.
Perfumery, in its history has paralleled cultural shifts and mood changes in society. It has had its modernity and within that certain styles have emerged that parallel what has occurred within contemporary art. The world of perfume composition is a highly developed field of knowledge and also a highly secretive and exclusive world. Part Art & Design & part organic chemistry as art, its commitment to discover new worlds for the senses through a remarkable compositional process & with an incredible palette of materials & commitment to conceptual ideas around the senses, surely makes this activity both an unofficial artform and a world of exciting future possibilities. Of course context is everything. The art of perfumery has been both strengthened & weakened by the forces of capitalism. There is “functional perfumery” that fills our world with smells and there is “fine fragrance” that manages to escape mass market imperatives.
Sniffing glue certainly “opened the doors of perception” but it is not recommended to anyone. It is a highly dangerous activity regardless of the magical gifts that it brings; it can easily end in tragedy.
fig 3. Jupiter & Io, 1531
Pasted from <http://www.twentyfirstcenturyholograms.blogspot.com/>