Displayed on three Pioneer plasmas are videos that demand an oscillating cross examination of different spaces and instances.
Searching for clues and conclusions is what permeates the experience of the artwork.
Taking the viewer through a series of different registers.
Some of the key registers I have identified are:
Firstly, in the realm of local gothic fiction.
A retelling of the text that uses scientism to ‘reason’ with why these fictional realms are coincidentally local and how they might have come about.
The fictional bleeds into an investigation of the artists intentions and how the artwork came into being in front of the viewer.
The way the viewer views the screen, and subsequently ruminates about the video.
The voices utilise various forms of phantasmagoria and ventriloquism, guiding and misguiding through the apparatus of each video. They create moments that merge fiction and theory with the interpretation of the work itself.
The video allows this movement by charting hazy mediums: ether, electromagnetism, gas, ions, electrons explained both with a guise of contemporary scientism and fiction to ‘perform’ thinking in the viewer. I will expand on a selection of assertions, feelings and ruminations that arise throughout the encounter with the work.
A video is situated at Robert Louis Stevenson’s house ‘Skerryvore’. A voice speaks over empty sites in statements that are recognisably quotes from the gothic genre. The text mixes the gothic with wellbeing articles about negative ions, creating an account of something between a body and a phenomena. Shots of a Puremate™negative ion emitter go with a piercing frequency that associates with the image of the ioniser. These shots brood like the machine interacts with the account of the narrator - either acting as the narrator or exerting some influence over the narrator. The voice leaves narrative sign-posts recounting a hazy, dissociated experience of waking up in an unknown surrounding.
Steven Connor refers to the capacity of the voice not only to be produced by a body but, to produce a body. The body associated with the voice in this video morphs between a definable white male/ female subject to a human voice speaking for/ as various electric phenomena: ’nonetheless I felt a great ardour for that species’. This plays with the image of the body as something non-human or a medium channeling something beyond itself, as if the air was a spiritual medium into the past.
The uncharted science undertaken in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde plays off the ‘Pioneer’ display. A pioneers being an approach to the unknown or the other with a colonial connotation. The materiality of the screen becomes more apparent on the TV displaying a picture of itself. The taming of plasma into image is accompanied by another kind of ‘pioneering’ scientific research. Humphrey Davey’s discoveries about the intoxicating effects of Nitros Oxide are read out among the electromagnetic noises of the television.
The passage slowly describes inhaling gas and the sudden inebriating effect of thoughts that appear to climax into a kind of ‘becoming gassy’:
Nothing exists but thoughts! - the universe is composed of impressions, ideas, pleasures and pains!”.
This epiphany could even act as a conclusion or prelude to the rest of the narrative. At the same time, this moment is made ridiculous by the subject matter and the retrospective account of the epiphany recalled in a distanced and detached tone. Nonetheless, the statement proposes a hazy relationship with matter itself.
The statement anticipates the double slit experiment that revealed a ‘glitch’ about the scientific concept of matter. The experiment found that when electromagnetic particles are fired at two slits they behave both as a particle and a wave. When each prediction was observed, they both held true, concluding that photons where found to hold a superposition of two states at once. It is the act of observation that collapses photons into either a particle or a wave, as if the photons where somehow ‘aware’ of the observer.
‘Are they aware of colonial western scientism?’
Part of the double slit experiment is demonstrated on another screen with a shot of two laser pointers shakily pointing off screen. The viewer is left viewing the ribbed patterns of the light sources resonating waves spilling out from focal point of the laser. This occurs while a robotic voice reads a passage from a pop psychology article about being indecisive. It is as if the voice embodies the two dots as they become a stand in for the the couple referenced in the article, attempting to form a stable coherent whole. This occurs against another theoretical consideration between the double slit imitation and indecisiveness, which is that maybe our capacity to hold two completely different states of mind is something to do with the quantum effect. Deciding actively ‘collapses’ the matter of thoughts into a single state.
A.K.A OrchOR. - a contemporary scientific gateway to parapsychology through quantum physics.
A ‘you’ voice makes this thinking performative. The words in an educational font are didactic, describing ways in which the viewers experience is radiating. An MRI scan comes to mind when thinking these words. They point at the leaky materiality of thinking itself.