ReInState : A Mirror Ritual

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get decent footage of live performances and not ended up with a single usable second. So many one-off pieces have been lost in the sands of time and to say it’s been frustrating is an understatement.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case with ReInState : A Mirror Ritual, conceptualised for Trans-States: The Art of Crossing Over. Cavan McLaughlin, the conference’s organiser, had a brilliant team of student videographers all over the event and the quality of their footage was faultless. Another stroke of luck on my part was that Cavan, a gifted video editor with tastes similar to my own, agreed to edit the footage into this little visual taster, making this our debut collaboration and hopefully the first of many.

For any of you who’ve read my short story Prism – it won’t be difficult to see the themes I was working with personally and magically at the time, the excerpt at the beginning of the film is taken directly from Prism. This performance and the short story were developed in tandem as two complimentary, but fractured, parts of a riddle I was trying to solve.

It begins with the birth / resurrection of a cocooned, almost mummified figure, laid at the base of the mirror inside a magic circle. The ‘new born’ awakes, faceless, androgynous and unsteady on its feet and slowly learns to crawl, stand, walk and then dance, feeling its way into its body through instinct, memory and rhythm.

Photo Credit :: Marco Visconti

As the being develops it becomes aware of its own reflection in an inversion of Lacan’s Mirror Stage in the psychological development of children. The being never identifies with the Other and begins to crave its attention and love, becoming increasingly frustrated when it finds no human warmth. Soon, the dancer seeks to seduce the Other, beautifying and ‘humanising’ itself and gender to win the reflection’s affection.

It draws on exaggerated facial features, cuts off the gauze fabric that has been a veil between it and manifest reality, and eventually reveals a human face underneath. When the being realises it will never receive the love it craves it becomes frenzied, desperate and manic, and destroys the object of it’s attention by smashing the mirror with a hammer.

The threshold is obliterated.

From the carnage of the broken shards, with a new calmness and sense of self-control, the being creates a third face; a divine visitor or angelic messenger, then steps out of the magic circle and moves into the world. The whole piece lasted just over an hr and had a killer soundtrack featuring bands and musicians that have formed the soundtrack to my life for many years (see below).

I was also invited to perform this again at Instigate Art’s evening of live performance art at Manchester Art Gallery in March the following year, in front of William Etty’s imposing and recently restored masterpiece The Sirens and Ulysses.

Etty, William, The Sirens and Ulysses 1837

I hope you enjoy the video.

Camera: Ceri Greenwell
Postproduction: Cavan McLaughlin
Additional sound design by Thom Powell
Music: Victim To The Charms Of Radio by Pentaphobe

 

 

SOUNDTRACK::

As the Sea Melts the Sun – Tribes of Medusa

Victim to the Charms of Radio – Pentaphobe

Feral Love – Chelsea Wolfe

Death Disco (Remastered) – PiL

Beauty Beats – Beats Antique

Crush No.1 – Garbage

Fodderstompf – PiL

Hell Broke Loose – Tom Waits

Are the Songs My Disease? – Queen Adreena

Counting Bodies Like Sheep – A Perfect Circle

Yesterday’s Hymn – Queen Adreena

Ancestors, The Ancients – Chelsea Wolfe

For Everything a Reason – Carina Round

Book of Angels – Jim White

 

 

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Prism Published in Apex Magazine’s Zodiac Issued Guest Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

I’m pretty proud and excited that a piece of short fiction I’ve been working on for quite some time has been published in Apex Magazine‘s Zodiac issue guest edited by Sheree Renée Thomas.

Sheree is the author of Sleeping Under the Tree of Life and her work is spun through with silver threads of magic, transformation and a kind of ‘lost knowing’, memories, dreams and instincts simmering just behind our eyes.

I genuinely couldn’t be happier that she chose to include Prism in the edition as the Gemini entry, and it can’t be denied that greater forces than mere luck were at work to make this happen. Not only was Apex the very first publication I submitted Prism to, but when Sheree got back in touch to ask for some structural tweaking before deciding whether or not it would get published, I discovered one of my favourite authors Cody Goodfellow had just announced his proof-reading services via Fiverr.

I literally had a window of a week to swallow my pride, submit the story for some “ruthless proof-reading” then delve back in and make the necessary changes. Having someone who knows the weird fiction industry inside out like Cody was an invaluable help. His feedback was indeed thorough, insightful and spot on. I think I actually squeaked in delight when he sent me some feedback and said there was “a bright pulsing vein” in my work.

PRISM is essentially a story about finding yourself (aren’t they all though?) and without wanting to give too much away I began writing it on the Hawkwind tour bus one twilight hour many moons ago. I wanted to translate some of the experiences I had whilst performing onstage and push it a step beyond. I feel like the gig scene in Prism is one of the most powerful I written and I’m really really proud of it. The story also started as a kind of homage to Caitlin R. Kiernan, one of my other all-time favourite authors as I wanted to work with an unreliable narrator in an abstract fantasy dreamscape.

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Onstage with Hawkwind during the “Warriors on the Edge of Time” tour

 

Read PRISM for yourself, let me know what you think or listen the audio version which the Apex team have done an amazing job of producing.

And here’s a piece of artwork by the incredible Marta Nael that I obsessed over for a while whilst writing it, I’m sure you can see  why.

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