Arts of Darkness: A Banal Apocalypse, text for Yason Banal 2014


Gustave Courbet’s monumental ‘Painting of Human Figures, the History of a Burial at Ornans’ was begun in 1849. It was shown at the 1851 Paris Salon and became the centre of an ‘explosive reaction’, bringing scandalous fame to the artist. Needless to say ‘Burial at Ornans’, as the title suggests, depicts the ritual act of burial. Courbet paints a hole or pit in the central foreground of the image, around which mourners and priests congregate. The hole has been dug. It is ready to receive its nourishment. A palpable sense of imminent entombment may be seen in the surrounding figures; the chief priest figure to the left of the hole seems to be preparing a recitation; the kneeling man gazes to the priest, his right arm posed on his thigh in a patrician-like manner; someone wipes their face with a white hankerchief; a boy looks up at one of the coffin bearers; the cross bearer gazes suspiciously out at us, as if he knew that everything was simply a play, a theatre of no lasting import; the dog seems to tilt his nose slightly upwards, sniffing the faint whiff of urine or food.

The Biological Abyss - death.
The Historical Abyss - apocalypse myths, catastrophe etc.
The Psychological Abyss - psychedelic, shamanic experience, dream states, aesthetic experiences. 
The Cosmic Abyss - awareness of outer space darkness.
All of the above are subsets of the Language Abyss - that grapples with our ideas about the above via language.

Stroboscopic effect. The cinema, disco and fire are intimately linked. William Grey Walter studied flickering lights and hallucination from the late 1940s. Brion Gysin and William Burroughs read him and invented the Dreamachine. Cut out card on a rotating record platter at 78rpm initiates 8-13 pulses per second triggering alpha waves in the brain. There is convincing speculation that the hallucinations ‘seen’ under these circumstances may lie at the roots of human art-making. Mind Machine flicker only happens within the human range of between 7hz - 30hz - slower or faster and our brains cannot cope with it. But in this range, it begins to create interference waves and interruptions, and hence ‘noise’, or hallucination.

Playmates in the Jungle
Redux. A muddy, wet medevac base in the jungle: "Captain, are you giving away our fuel for a Playmate of the Month?" He continues: "In their way, the girls are the corresponding characters of those young boys on the boat, except they're being exploited in sexual ways. But it's the same thing, you know how they're being consumed, used up by a society that calls itself moral and yet isn't."

Lord, Have Mercy
"We're on an uninhabited island. We shall have to look after ourselves. But it's a good island; there's lots of fruit, water, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any dangerous animals. So things aren't so bad. None of us are hurt. There isn't any danger and we can build shelters and be comfortable. So if we're sensible, if we do things properly, if we don't loose our heads, it will be all right."

War Paint
1. An overabundance of cosmetics applied to a woman's face for the purpose of hiding what lies beneath.
2. White - White kaolin clays, limestone, ground gypsum, eggshells or sea shells.
Ceremonies, Dances and Rituals: Specific colors and patterns were applied

Zombie Beacon – Japanese convenience stores, sleep deprivation and new public spaces.
Research on links between 2000 lux lighting and decreases in melatonin level secretion – which inhibits sleep.The convenience store as a social space for night time youths like a library. Cycle of sleeplessness which leads to sleeping on public transport, at school. Convenience store as new zombie drug salons – for quick fixes. See Guattari’s machine junkies? Energy drinks, caffeine, carbohydrates, sugar, tobacco, porn – no fresh produce. All pre packaged and made for increased work, wakefulness.

"The Disease of the Moon: The Linguistic and Pathological Evolution of the English Term “Lunatic”". Journal of the History of the Neurosciences.
“Of unsound mind” or non compos mentis are alternatives to lunatic.

“For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind...For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him; when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.”

"Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal."

The Studio
The recording studio and recording is closer to painting than music - its about duration and layering. Classical music did not understand recording until Glenn Gould - recording was different to performance. Pop music did understand this - Phil Spector’s panoramas of sound, George Martin’s collaging of different musics etc. Studio recording model uses a very different model. More of a field of possibility - many collaborators, large group involved in making. Cinema also uses this model. Brian Eno calls this model: A Scenius. An invented world meaning collective intelligence.This contrasts to the classical model of the genius.

Lagerfeld 1977
Totally black tragic dress required.

Fragments, ideas and quotations from the following sources:
Terence McKenna, Francis Ford Coppola, Guy Debord, Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook), Plato, Brian Eno, the internet.