29th March 2017
Dear Nina, we have a surprising amount of connections. I don’t know which to start with …For many years I have been interested in the power of images to change things. Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad is a portal to another state of consciousness in its Neo-Platonist aspirations. When I was making those photographs in my mouth, which you mentioned, the act, the ritual, the chemistry, and the image didn’t feel so far from alchemy – and as for photographs – they write history. More than that. They are probably much more formative on us than we can comprehend. People are imprisoned or even executed for their photographic collections, that seems serious. I am always a little baffled when I am told I can not photograph what I am looking at – I can see it – it has been seen – doesn’t that show much more the photograph is deemed to be? I was told I could not photograph a bottle of perfume for sale in an airport duty free in Norway. I took about 300 pictures in UK duty free…
Here is a link below to an image of me photographing a tree with my mouth in the grounds of a church that Dee was rector of. I have to shroud myself in a black body bag to get the paper in my mouth and then the images go red with light passing through the blood in the skin. There were also alchemical carvings scratched on the church porch wall that recall cave drawings – the magical image, an incantation.
30th March 2017
Dear Lindsay, thank you so much for the input and link. It’s amazing and really mesmerizing how your photograph taken from the interior of the body at the exterior, also looks like it’s of the interior -of the flesh. It made me think about an interesting experience I had when I was a child. Having asthma I was in an oxygen tent in hospital for a while. What I can remember from this experience was that it was like being inside a lens looking out. I really enjoyed it! And can’t even remember having a hard time breathing. The tent consisted of a seethrough transparent plastic wrapped around a structure placed around my upper body while I was in bed. It was like being in some sort of space ship. This made me think about a piece by Haus-Rucker –Co and their pneumatic air structures (possible inspired by oxygen tents?) Now I wonder if this experience has influenced me as an artist, and being obsessed researching “the lens” and the origin of photography, camera obscura, claude glass etc.. Here’s some interesting photos
The notion of distorted vision caused by such a mirror can be traced back at least to the second half of the sixth c. in several texts, inspired by an anecdote from Pliny the Elder, a tigress is tricked by a convex mirror set up by a hunter who then takes her cub from her. All these errors turn the convex mirror into a magical and diabolical object… "The devil is the deceptive mirror par excellence, the speculum fallax; he is the father of lies who creates illusions, usurps resemblance, and cause man to turn away from his true model. The devil is sometimes allegorized in iconography through the image of a monkey playing with a mirror, since each one counterfeits the world, for the devil wants to rival his creator by producing simulacra, "Melchior-Bonnet writes…
"Elias Ashmole, author of Theatrum Chemikum: : With the help of this magic stone (of Dr. Dee) , one can see al the persons one wishes to see, no matter what part of the world they are in, and even if they are hidden in the depths of the most inaccessible apartments, or even in caves in the bowels of the earth"
A photo of my first version of Dr Dee mirror from studio in 2010. Later I made one in smoked glass, that was more transparent – referring to the Aztec "smoking mirror" which allowed the sinful god to see into the hearts of men and predict the future . It had to sides… allowing one to see and to be seen. It revealed ones sins and one's destiny
3rd April 2017
I am writing as you are speaking to us in the room at Notam. Connections are arising and coagulating as I write. We have moved through speaking about the Warburg Institute (looking at the images above – how the cave paintings bare some resemblance to Dee's monad and that caused us to think of the whole system of organising images employed by Warburg and how it reflects how artist's think in general – in an associative way).
How we then got to Freud I am unsure but you were speaking of vases and a work you made with them. Do you have an image of that work?
I mentioned a visit I made to the Freud house. In the glass case downstairs in this former house of his was a small address book, it was open and had one address on the page – it was of Arthur Koestler. I used Koestler in my recent work (Mental Matter the one I a find myself turning to as a base for our connections). My film/installation opens with AK's metaphor of slime mould as a model for society.
I felt I could return to my interest in Koestler for Mental Matter, both for his work on coincidence and connections to Neo-Platonism/causality. Also AK is mentioned by AL Rowse in his book on Simon Forman.
Anna Freud brought up Michael Byrne who was playing Simon Forman in my film.
A coincidence then that the address book showed a connection to the Freud's just when I was thinking of Koestler). It was Koestler's book On Coincidence that I opened at random in a bookshop to read Jung's example of the power of coincidence to seem portentous. That I opened the page at Jung's example was in itself a coincidence but it was reinforced by another factor. Just 2 hours before someone had sited this Jungian example to me. Odd to open a book by chance and find that exact fragment about chance that occurred twice that day.
The conversation in the room here now has turned to Jung. I have brought Jung with me – meaning to draw on him here. I will get back on to that.
Some more conversation now on Adam Curtis and his focus on Anna Freud in his work Hyper normality – does Anna Freud deserve this responsibility for the power of analysis and its consequences for capitalism in American culture?
We spoke then of the possibility of us all as a group mind making works that acknowledge a flux between a singular mind and a group one – a specific group mind that we are working on here. I absolutely agree with you we need to start to exchange small artworks rather than writing.
17th April 2017
A list of words
A layer of soil – just a few millimetres that represent an epoch.
The modernist cut into the earth forming cubes that reverse time (archaeological dig)
As seen through a mirror darkly (materiality and image – obsidian)
A more free society – an advanced stone age society.
Dee’s Mirror – the anus of the Devil