文 | LEWIS GESNER美國多媒材實驗藝術家，近四十年聚焦在聲響發展的可能性，作品常以行為藝術、音樂/樂音與寫作呈現，擁有視覺藝術與英國文學碩士文憑。多元經驗與高度實驗性作品經常走在藝術的前端。現居高雄。 Lewis Gesner is an artist, writer and performer who uses a variety of mediums in his work, in keeping with his philosophy. He is from America but now lives in Taiwan with his wife and children. He has exhibited broadly, including venues in Taiwan.
在藝術及相關領域中，每個人都用「藝術媒材」這個詞彙或其他語言的相似詞彙。它代表你可以預期從隨便一家藝術商店中找到製造藝術的貨品，意味著你可以預期一件藝術品的組成。以前就有企圖處理這類預期侷限的藝術運動，例如 1970 年代義大利的「貧窮藝術（Arte Povera）」，藝術家用簡陋或類建材的貨品做藝術。但這些所有作為，仍只是強調貨品的侷限及非關係性。從這個角度來看，這場藝術運動其實不怎麼基進，它只是擴展藝術能接受的貨品範疇，然而形式與物質的斷裂問題仍在。
自從脫離教會和貴族的資助後，西方藝術一直在空虛中掙扎。這種掙扎已傳播至全球且持續存在。為了將藝術救回生存軌道上，有一項簡單的補救措施，即我們應該思考用「物質」（matter）及其同義詞取代「素材」（material）作為所有藝術語言的詞彙及原則。Matter 涵括所有 substances 以及所有具物理性質及量體的事物，且 matter 亦有題目或問題之意，在藝術脈絡中它代表 substance 及其運用是一種不可分割的整體。它將消滅轉譯（rendering），把轉譯留給教會和貴族的聖像畫和肖像畫；它代表了你可以藉由允許它們採取的形式，去探索你的 substances。它將解放 matter、藝術以及藝術家。再加上「低等意識（無計畫、忘卻所學、無技能）」的配套方案，直接處理最浩瀚範圍的 substance，而不去在你的概念中強加一條應導引至未來藝術的路。
（fiona cheng 譯）
這個網站採用 Akismet 服務減少垃圾留言。進一步了解 Akismet 如何處理網站訪客的留言資料。
Material and Matter
文 | LEWIS GESNER美國多媒材實驗藝術家，近四十年聚焦在聲響發展的可能性，作品常以行為藝術、音樂/樂音與寫作呈現，擁有視覺藝術與英國文學碩士文憑。多元經驗與高度實驗性作品經常走在藝術的前端。現居高雄。 Lewis Gesner is an artist, writer and performer who uses a variety of mediums in his work, in keeping with his philosophy. He is from America but now lives in Taiwan with his wife and children. He has exhibited broadly, including venues in Taiwan.
The word “material” is used a lot in the field of art, both to narrow down the description of the medium (which is itself used to mean something passed through, like a spirit brought by a channeler or shaman), and more simply, the physical substance an item is made from. Trying to identify what something is made from should be a simple task truly, but we are also always describing a kind of relationship, and suggested potentials. “Manifest”, how something is made to appear in the world and the form it takes suggests an inseparable connection between the form and the substance that composes. And in that case, our world becomes the medium by which it appears, our dimension. To manifest can also mean to merely appear. But material suggests “make-up,” or chemical composition. There is a complication here also. That is the fact that for every literal or actual (concrete) meaning, there is a figurative one, the meaning by which we further our understanding by comparing one thing to another which is similar in some way. “Love is a rose” comes to mind. A rose is an object, love is not. But they share some imagined nature of delicacy and beauty, and perhaps other qualities we can infer from our individual experiences. So, this non-concrete meaning isn’t even necessarily precise or reliable. If we define the material or medium of an art object as wood, are we to imagine all of the qualities of the substance “wood” is being explored and commented on in the artwork? Of course not. The choice of wood may have been for no other reason than that it was what the artist was used to using. For me, this is a crucial breakdown that interferes with the integrity that art should be able to claim; basically, that it is the result of a cause, uninterrupted by a corrupting third party, the artist. In a sense, the artist should be the medium by which creation passes. A choice of materials (substance) to use for an artwork’s composition risks being a kind of contamination of the art object.
Everyone in or around the art field uses the term “art materials” or its equivalent in any language. It means the supplies for making art that you can expect to find in any art store, and you can expect art works to be composed of. There have been art movements in the past that tried to address the limiting aspect of this expectation. The Italian “Arte Povera” movement of the 1970s comes to mind, in which artists used rough or construction-like supplies for art. Yet, all this did was address the limited range of supplies, and not relationships. In that, it was not really radical. It just broadened the range of supplies that were acceptable to use in art. The problem of a disconnection between form and substance remains. Western art has been struggling in a void ever since it detached itself from the patronage of church and nobility. The struggle has spread and remains globally. There would be a simple remedy to putting art on a survival track. Instead of “material” as a word and principle, we should think “matter”, and its equivalents in all art languages. Matter encompasses all substances, and anything with a physical aspect and mass. But it also means the subject or issue. In the art context, it would mean that substance and its use would be an inseparable entity. It would eliminate rendering and leave it behind with the church and the nobility, with their icons and portraits. It would mean you explore your substances by allowing them the forms they want to take. It would free matter, art, and artist. Coupled with a Lower Consciousness (unplanned, unlearned, unskilled) approach, the direct address of substance of the widest range without the intention of forcing into your conception of it should lead the way to future art. (published in Art Observer Field)
The Name Game
Traditions of names and naming is common through the range of human rearing abroad and broadly. Celestial bodies, ancestors, and the spirit world can all take part in the selection. While it might be tempting to name a child to forecast their success in life or their beauty, some cultures assess the risk of this practice as it makes them valuable for kidnap, or to be shuttled early into death by desirous spirits, local gods, and demons that would have the attractive child for themselves. For instance, grandfather’s name means dirty rag. So it is a practical and reasonable matter to give a child an unattractive name, in attempts to stem their early departure or capture from this realm. As you may find many self-proclaimed experts who can choose your child’s name by the horoscope or from list of historic names, one might establish themselves as the purveyor of greatly undesirable names (or brands). It could after all be the key to long life on earth! Here are some samples of my wares.
Calcified Soft Tissues, Constipated then Loose Entrails, Parasite Filled Offal, Incessant Chatterer, Gagging Gurgle, Convulsive Dripper, Concentrated Stench, Squeezed Ejaculate, Rotting Straw, Disemboweled Excessively Lubricating Fornicator, Bodily Waste Smear, Anemic Pooler, Fecal Pocket, Fermented Nose Run, Pin Worm Tape Worm Ring Worm Platter, Perpetual Nausea and Vomit, Grated Elder’s Flesh For Pancake, Emergent Coils From Cyst Pits, Evacuating Sores, Leper Sandwich Meat, Infection Fume Censer, Cancerous Depletions, Stump Tarred Burning Hair, Finger Snipper, Genital Liquid Nitrogen Dip, Entire Human Species Puke Register and Unabridged Sampler, Pustules and Oozing Stitch Holes, Bile Squirts, Exsanguinating Torso, Sewage Porridge, Spontaneous Dismemberer, Organ Puncture, Gland Secrete and Industrial Vacuum Suckage, Jaundiced Reproductive Tissue Bath, Head Compacter, Exploding Eye in a Glass Container, Lactating Corpse, Septic Guts, Cesspool Dry Heave, and Jimmy.
One might also provide unattractive business names, to assure similarly that the company is not cursed in the spirit world by its desirability. Here are some examples.
The Smashed Testicles Group, Putrid Milk and Co., Asthma Phlegm and Associates, Moldy Butter and Unwashed Asses Ltd., Stool Eaters and Dirty Mouth Rings Syndicated, PASTE Inc. ( Puss, Ascaris Stain, and Tetanus Engorged), Fish Filled Dumpster Hot Summer Bros., Invasive Probing Orifice Blockage Release Incorp., and Jimmy and Sons.
Otis of Otis Pond
Days in fields are long when they span wide and take time to cross. Out near Otis Pond, mostly lengths are long. You can skirt for a bit across some solid flat ground with high grass, but expect to get bogged down in the wet sods, and avoiding water snakes, and after you’ve navigated the wide flats, enter into wooded and be-shrubbed terrain as nearing creeks and steep banked shoulders, and suddenly emerging caves from stone, and sink holes, sun bleached rustic foot bridges, distractions, like remains of native made clam mounds, and the glint of, tools and hunting implements fashioned from flint, or even semiprecious gems. In the small acreage, you may find yourself exhausted from the hike, or even lost in the endless challenge. As this is so, most think it likely or true that there is an Otis Pond hermit, and that it is likely Otis Pond is named after him, and not the opposite. You could evade discovery, and indeed, rescue were you out here with enough sense, or not enough, as the case may be. Some think it was a boy name Guptill who have been so given up on he had given up on too, and found his way while wandering out to starve, and didn’t die, but grew like the moss and lichen on the rocks without change. Elders recalled how they would see Guptill, when they and Guptill were both children, hanging from the back of his father’s carriage desperately waving and screaming “Hi” when he would see another child, so needy was he to be seen and recognized. Yet this boy’s father kept him to the yard and farm without affection or contact of his fellow humans, like a beast of burden. This boy had even been taken from school to work, when reaching legal age to so remove. Escaping seemed reasoned, even suicide, and rather than to seek him out, everyone assumed him dead in the wilderness and let it seem the case. Or it might have been Timmy Height, whose ugly appearance made him shunned, who yet was thought a deep genius who scratched numbers and symbols on fences rocks and stone along the riverbanks until some day when he had disappeared and thought to have drown. This case too, some child had been thought to have found a semblance of a home or tranquility in a torturous existence. Some think it might be Butch, the town strongman who famously took a chainsaw and cut down the biggest tree at one end of a field. It was rumored to be a massive beehive inside. When Butch had circled the tree with the chainsaw, it had fallen over abruptly, and was clearly seen to be hollow, and packed with massive slabs of honeycomb. The citizens of the town cheered from a distance. But the celebration was short lived. A black cloud emerged from the hollow and covered Butch, who appeared as a growing black ball. There must have been millions of angry bees that covered him, and yet he didn’t fall on the spot, but rather lurched and ran, this growing mass, emitting a cacophonous buzz that exceeded his chainsaw’s sounding by many time, and indeed, nearby, the spectators to this horror had to cover their ears. Butch ran out of the field through the tree-line and into the untamed reaches beyond the town, and was never seen again, or, was he Otis, whose pain remained, whose form was so twisted and reshapen by the incident that it had made him mad, who lived there still?
What evidence or harm if so, does an Otis Pond hermit represent? Some hikers first reported seeing an abundance of frogs in the area that were missing their hind legs. This begs the question, who has gone frogging there so regularly to make this noticeable impact in the population of frogs, and, who could account for the cruelty, of leaving the frogs without their legs, the way the fin of a shark is harvested, and the shark is released to suffer as it may? Perhaps, another sufferer who cares not for inflicting pain. Some years passing, it was noticed that the situation remained, but, with a difference. A specimen of the two legged frog was caught, and because of its strangeness, was sent to the university in the closest city. It was discovered that this specimen had never had hind legs. It was a mutated frog. Had they been hunted so long and so well that the frog born without legs had a reproductive and survival advantage? Think of the new strain of elephant born without tusk, and how that previous advantage now represented a liability at the hand of poachers. Another sign of a mysterious presence was the rigging of dangers along the paths and ruins of the past habitations. Along the footpaths appear some sharpened sticks that one might step on. Sun bleached wooden bridges, built ages ago and falling down by natural course, seem provoked to fall in places, seeming wood supports where passing over flowing water have been freshly broke and carefully pushed together again to hide the recent break. If walking over, one were not taking care, and the hidden break letting go under an average person’s weight, it would send them down into rock strewn streams and rivers to their injuries or deaths. And it seems like thistles and briers are in over abundance, thorns seemingly cultivated to discourage perceived trespass. How, and why? A mystery. I’ve pondered before, if every place and every moment of our time might have a haunting. I think it better however not to know.
The Hobo Mutant
Raymond sat in a corner of the restaurant, slowly eating a Reuben sandwich and watching others. He was king of voyeurism. He sweated out the conversations, had his villains and heroes. Raymond thought about his childhood train transformer. It had a sixty watt output. Put that on the end of a spoon. An electric meal! Raymond went to light a cigarette but could find no matches. This seemed to always happen. Nothing was ever in synchronization. Raymond swings open hand at a fly circling his plate. The fly escapes. It’s a bloater, a fat mother ready to let go. She buzzes into a fan above the grill in the kitchen, fan blade whacks her foolish, her blobs of eggs are grated through the screen and some land on a customer’s omelette below. Raymond flinches, yards away. He squirms a bit, then settles to eat the last bite of his sandwich. He drinks down a pitcher of iced coffee. He thinks about his recent experiences, his meeting in Wyoming with a man who had seen the most vile of legends face to face. As the story goes, as told to Raymond by a grainy truck driver, there was once a hobo who was so adept at hopping freights that he traveled with his young son, grabbing onto train cars with one hand and holding his boy against his body with the other. Sad but true, that one night, Hobo Joe, as he was called, became blind drunk on some bad liquor, and still dragging his five year old son with one hand, bravely tried to tackle a high speeding train. Hobo Joe was cut clean in half. Little son falls by the rails and reaches for Dad. Train wheels— right over little arms, just above the wrists. The boy crawled away, just barely alive— but still alive. He stumbled into a crevice between two rocks, surrounded by a thicket of bushes, and like an animal, he licked his wounds. His hands, miraculously, were still attached to his arms. Attached now not by bone, but tendons, a few surviving veins, and thin strands of muscle tissue. The little boy was strong. He ate foliage around his little hole in the ground. He had a deep understanding of what had happened to him, and was determined to make his mutilation work for him. For hours on end he practiced trying to move his little fingers. Soon he was able to hold objects. In not much longer time, he could throw. But a strange adaptation was taking place. The strands that connected his hands to his arms were constantly becoming longer, stretching out, and as he redeveloped his coordination and muscles, they became thicker and rugged as steelcables. Flexible, threaded— a new kind of man he was becoming! He developed his skills and control in isolation. He stayed on this stretch of deserted railroad track, sleeping in the thickets by day and working his body by night. By the time he was thirteen years ofage he was able to coil the strands of tissue like a length of rope, his hands dangling from the ends. He fixed these lassos on his sides, on the leather belt he had salvaged from his father’s body. He could throw his hands a good thirty feet distance on the ends of these cables and grasp objects with hydraulic strength. Itwas at this point that he began to crave meat, and found he could quite easily capture small animals, thinking the were safe at such distances. He would rope his victim, throwing his hands out, wrapping them around the animal like octopus tendrils and reeling them in with spastic jerking motions of his arms and contractions of his cable extensions. One year in Wyoming, there was a horrible drought. Most of the small animals died and our Hobo Mutant was a hungry twenty-five years old. His fuel intake was decreasing drastically as time passed, and he felt the pangs of starvation coming on. Hobo Mutant woke dizzily one day, hearing the sounds of human voices in the distance. Crawling from his thicket cave, he observed two ‘bos, sitting on a rock next to the railroad tracks, passing a bottle of clear fluid between them. Mutant’s throat was parched raw like sandpaper. But he waited still, like the sly predator he had become. In not too long, one ‘bo dropped on his back in the dirt. The other leaned over him, his head turning in slow circles. Hobo Mutant acted. His hands flew high and accurate, wrapping firm about the seated ‘bo’s throat. The bottle flew in the air as the ‘bo went to the ground. The bottle smashed on a rock. Hobo Mutant squeezed tight and felt something snap beneath his hands. The ‘bo went limp. Hobo Mutant rushed to the scene and devoured the dead ‘bo like a hungryanimal. When there was nothing left, he wiped his chin. The other ‘bo groaned, laying in the dirt. Mutant dragged the remains of his lunch into the bushes and covered it with shrubs. He lay on his belly out of sight and watched the other ‘bo come to. The ‘bo got up on his knees, put one hand to his head and sighed loud. Seeing the splotch of blood in the dirt, he scuttled to his feet and staggered screaming along the tracks, out of sight, his holler like a train whistle fading into distance and heat waves. Hobo Mutant scuffed away the bloodstain on the dirt and pulled the dead ‘bo’s remains into his hidden dwelling. Then he slept until dark. Mutant woke to the sound of voices. This time, there were more than two. Hobo Mutant crawled up to a viewpoint and observed.
“So you said it was here, huh?”
“Yeah, it was right here, see, here’s the rock.”
“There’s a rock like this every twenty feet.”
“But I know it was here. And the blood was right there, a big patch of it.”
“Well, I don’t see nothin’.”
“I tell ya, someone killed Jesse and left a big patch of blood, right here.”
“Well, there’s nothin’ here now.”
“It was here. Something happened.”
One man stood, nodding his head as one pleaded, occasionally saying, “Yup, yup.”
A man in uniform continued. “I think you was just drunk. I think your buddy wandered off. Or caught a freight while you was passed out. Nothing happened here. Now why don’t you just go back to your friends in the jungle and tell your story to them. I ain’t got the time.” He stormed off along the tracks, the others following him. “Yup… yup… yup….” train whistle, gone again. Mutant waited until they were out of sight and pursued them. As he neared the hobo jungle, he began to recognize the landscape— an oil drum, rusted out and abandoned over there, just as it had been twenty years earlier. A railroad switch, an unusual rock formation, and the voices of people, many people. Off of the tracks, over in a gully between two sloping hills, he could see the light of a fire rising up and giving off an orange glow. Mutant got close enough to watch the ‘bos eating and laughing, seated around the fire, some drinking, some sleeping, huddled together like a pack of wolves. Mutant went back to his lair and gnawed on bones. Then he slept. The following night was the stuff that folklore is made of. Hobo Mutant was hungry again. He ground his front teeth to a fine viperous point on a rusty section of track. There was a full moon this night, it hung low over the hills and dirt like a giant porthole into another world. Hobo Mutant headed out toward the jungle, drooling lasciviously. He waited on the hillside, overlooking the gathering of ‘bos. One of them would be his meal. Blood pumped hard in his veins. Capillaries burst in his eyes. ‘Bos toasted eggs and strips of smelly meat over the fire. There was no talking this night. The ‘bos were grave and afraid. Hobo sense told them that this was not a good night. One ‘bo nodded, swaying back and forth sitting cross-legged, moving to a silent rhythm as if listening to a railroad song in his head. He stood, hobbled over a hill and began to relieve himself. He was alone, on the other side, out of sight of the others. Hobo Mutant scurried around the periphery of the camp to the other side and snuck behind the pissing ‘bo. His Mutant arms lashed out from twenty feet. A finger went through the thorax, but still it screamed. The throat, out in seconds, but not before the camp heard that last painful sound. Mutant pulled the corpse toward him and devoured. A voice rose from the camp.
Hobo Mutant dragged the body to the top of the hill and pushed it over the edge towards them. Silhouetted against the moon, he howled with the voice of a man cut in half— his father’s legacy. He raised his stubs to the sky and swung his attached hands in circles whose ropes cut the moon at every angle. He howled once more and ran for his cave, miles away.
Raymond shivered thinking about the story. He ordered another sandwich and swatted at a fly. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10227427725622767&id=1351285956
Excerpt from book in progress, Pink Heat Black Heart – from chapter on Indonesia Lewis Gesner
As the dictates plummet from the ornamented and wired rooftop, the flow of rain and electricity and the bursting chant proclaims the difficulty and precise spiraling of the shell, is here a reasonable guide and as much as the plastic and discharged muck at easy reach there is little especially tragic or heroic the mere null set necessity glosses much the hours and supplies from kitchen to table from meal to anticipated digestion.
The log went rolling through it which is the eon, and therein gathered jelly sand and coral on its skin, the penultimate of natural grace and majesty to be shielded by what you endure.
Have it more and never a particular time and quell waiting on air signals and dissonance.
If all more brick and terracotta and the steel gate with a useless latch greets the wanderer beside the speckles of rain as the array, make note quantity, step or increment looped, graph and chart evasion.
Sandal squashed, wear, striped bucket, puddle danglers unspecified touch cataloged color pared.
Primed to worry packed and packaged, hot stilt with its fiber tip, hesitates despite the skill approaching cobblestone and pit holes challenge function, auctioned moments to the generic placement of destination store or mosque, halted.
Itch on the stinger’s penetration practice chord is practical model, sided and accompanied, leading and to push away and more complexify that each announces or wans the direction of its spin.
Calcified nettles climate to survive rampant, to specify.
Walls of nuts and dry husk twice patient to the fore a calm blink suffice to accommodate associated emotion glitch.
Bunched in gobs voluptuous cold blossoms spent.
The striving for compact cold with flawless ending on melt street, wavers faintly a hawker.
And an early clamp of sap, the giant ferns dripping during burn off half a face equated to the malingering beast, brown as raisins and after constipation can be breathed in with the will, the fiber clutching to secure implant status to embrace overt and the premise lux wanting for a place to crease at the middle, in the morning lurking, foraging beasts.
Liken it to a row of depress able shoes on a board, a brunt is waiting.
Bought and sold for plugs inspired officers trim cut, tied smart blank stage mask signified neutral authority or emotionless punishment, slow lurk cane hats and drag the plow knee deep, foster, swim as water flooded gilled.
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Invent “spaddle” to describe one slight ancient the other robust and pregnant reach of score shaped plastic jib, helmets and dust crane roads convivial dredge “slatter” pups feast corpse ruts there patter to secure a sufficiently dense date that not bleeds through nor tears, tile, tile and crumbles, tile moss and giant fern paled cheeked too fancy parts inglorious offers equal rolling uneven wheels trunks mingle matter coagulated to pin heads fear toppled ages gods not requiring much new grinding simplex, blades are broader, breeches more penetrating.
Protective crust against surge, pearl meets ebony black forest spill set in cataloged arrays with stepper motor from crude to cut in increments the extent of pot filled dirt fiddles at the loosest establishes as a stapled multi-purpose mat holes of stations until completion, two modes in breakout busted sight rhetorical wards knuckled, spread across mass composed.
A field of stake tried pungent spore oppressed, hopeful stippling heavy from permanent steeping wide set, pagination to consider, and compression, and shrinkage, extremes acted out fails the vision test so cannot curate, much less conspire sputters a word cramps a variant, strongly fudged urged but there’s a dumping sieve sure to map, normal oscillation sucked for the bead of control pearls bud, mouths change rings as much as we touch for para the bleat and a chirp on a crank fertilization in step if you can fashion mere poles with emerald hook bristle terror silence overlays hidden gross anticipate eruption and await the ash there is a pallid hot snap outwardly adroit and prurient, sitting where the window casts wooden bars but you can saw, shutters, but a level split to pieces mortal wrestle plucked from four graves to greatness a stately worm fattening and dividing or a voice gone bad.
Tomb to temple prayer to rap prongs resonate alert abrupt appeal and shavings in fraction form over jealous love resounding penetrator sprig flavored obstruction principle circled the camp and violators were towed renounce and watch the spiral out reward and chambering slack grow taut.
We had crop cakes after storms and the burn off utter mow and thistle moist shift wave collaborative whittle slow class ruts over woods eliminated holes throughout by fermentation gas pockets, sour bulge.
The banister is gummy as the stickers have all peeled apart the years provide though for some image heightened grip opened up on food receptors instantly vagrant congratulations, beef spread, clam snapping shut insults worlds receiving notes from space, even in far reaches descendent muffle suspended mid-drift supervisor of moons and metal sparkles bamboo cluster crimping exercises, diverting the course exercises and degrees of discursive investigation and riddle evasive to discomfort.
Chaste roosters and abundant disk advancing into horns abundant and sumptuous on the slate pay reversal prime lawn urges mortals flushing through a grape stem incontinent fixture it’s good to see the common display well, it seems so unlikely a still night reaching inward look for spots most worn from ogling.
Cave samples, the square within the pattern on each the vegetable within the fruit then in fear to scurry with an incisor and a pastry fish (such as veneer) have to lose the principle to gain the satellite last of grunts founds a father, and a supplemental trill over pattern, one cool breeze over humid steam release body.
Insert, rust spending edible whiteness orange slur nibble elemental stroke everyone provokes as an animal vast and traveled over grump stokes stainless steel trains mass comes mass spending smoke author speaks preservation dip in the early proportions throbbing and intransitive spider button has the native touch in proposed escort salt block latent gall over-established read, results snotty congestion a waxy free phoneme many carp gather residentially described as a capstone to efficiency and answered ringers and alarms with noncommittal greetings.
While the bleeding pen it’s not a blur but it is discreet something arrives in a vermillion sling sobbing the chicken in skinny on the bone but is from their own farm raised on tightened cereal it can’t again the field swell block the bumper of the native foreigner fossilized nostril paint, stay in the calm pared off the bowel forms the extend in the dextrose limb capable to precise deposit the strains are still and chrome carried in silks pockets para-lingually convivial in the form of station masters cement room comforts radiant meter reading, lilting voice in any language according to the population this house makes mushrooms but no steeples to be found here other were the glyphs of perpetration cans for loading sparks of wait-out nascent grey puddles fresh to spire into wealthy spectrums whirls a pool like got off early fair smacked puds the pinky nail the want for pure product stencil and spurts in drums slap a vegetable cork from clouds teamed pill compliment phony drips on a screen blackout of controlled some expert knowledge but pray to the stone unseated observers disappear lace breaker wings for waves duplication in forwarding sleep to claps of sound trills evaporation sanction pain sap, earthly stamen krill forming from infection instruction forming opinion from diuretic evacuation a question of reason poor labeled scraps the strike of glowing the mind at eleven percent.
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The Toothless Lady, or, The BBQ Witch
She walked across parking lots and tar driveways with her feet pointing outward. In a great feat of the imagination, one could speculate she had been a ballerina once, but the likelihood was she suffered from some form of hip displacement that gave her this measured, crab-like walk. Her clothes hung from her frame, and seemed to swing and sway backward and forward almost magically in a simulation of a body endowed with mass and subject to the airborne wind. On the top of her head were large white curls the likes you would see on painted iron fenced gates, and not protruding from someone’s scalp. As she made her way, a small cloud followed her closely from behind, a remnant of her drying skin she found more convenient to flake away than to shed at once. Her eyes were dark and nondescript, the kind of thing that she would plan that way. In such a village, she could walk along. She didn’t attract company, and indeed, many hid inside away from her as she passed by their habitats. One might imagine these features would be enough for one person to suffer or wield, but there was one more aspect that was incontrovertibly more impressive. And that was her mouth.
Some existent things are said to not be describable by human means; heaven, hell, dying -.This mouth, this orifice, this pucker from the rue of defective, corrupted creation stood alone at the pinnacle of the undefined. A flock of one thousand in lab coats with all of the instruments of examination could not draw a single conclusion. Such is the village oddity. Some referred to her as the toothless lady. That described her mouth in the most superficial, but perhaps bearable way. She had no teeth, that was true. I will attempt a vain characterization. Where teeth might have been, there were gaps and craters that seemed filled with the darkest black, and of a size that meant her teeth would have barely fit in her head. If one were to venture close to this horrible hole, one might imagine some creeping essence housed in these caves, catch the smell from their own lurid mouths, or glimpse the blinking of a lone and oozing eye at the parapet defenses of some unearthly chthonian dwelling worm. The grounds surrounding these pits were anemic and washed out as to offend pink, and attested to an overall ancientness and erosion. Old indeed, yet God had clearly not taken her for a myriad of reasons, stemming from the unpleasantness of her nearness. The outer rim of the mouth fell into the void like from a powerful suction that suggested she would be the epicenter of our earth’s final implosion at the end of time.
What’s more, she wandered here and there on a regular circuit each day. She seemed to search for cats to curse and children to frighten. Passersby were subject to comment on their dress weight or other appearance that might not be in their hands. After these walks, she’d go back to her house, a cement block building with no windows which may have been used for a supply shed during the Japanese occupation. People pictured her solitary life behind those thick cold walls. A few felt sorry for her. Most thought she was a witch. That also made her feared. On the many occasions for BBQ, such as on national days and Chinese New Year, and in this village, more frequently, the toothless lady would become sociable, though not talkative. She would travel around the village, following her nose for BBQ until she found its source. The revelers would fall silent at her sight. Without hesitating, should go straight to the grill and take a rib, gobbling it down quickly and eating another, and another, the bloody juice running down her chin, and you could almost hear her bony jaws gnashing together, sans teeth. When she had eaten all of the ribs on the grill, she would wander away, on to the next BBQ. This was the way it was, year after year. If a cousin or uncle from another village asked about this horrible presence at everyone’s BBQ who seemed to invite herself and take with impunity, they were quickly shushed. It hadn’t always been like this, they were told. Once, it had been much worse. And, if they were insistent, they were told the story.
Maybe it was a generations ago, maybe more. None could really provide facts, but there was no lack of details. The toothless lady seemed ageless, and by all accounts, had always been old. Parents, grandparents, and great grandparents told of growing up with her cursing them. And, it was rumored that the Japanese soldiers gave her a wide berth, which was not their usual way with villagers. Most people were poor back then. It’s why of cuisine of today is so varied. No food matter of plant or animal was every wasted. The blood of pigs or chickens was gathered up and rice was soaked in it for cakes. Offal of every kind of animal was commonly eaten. Brains went in soup. Snakes and frogs went into the stew pot. With such efficient consumption of all food stuffs, it was remarkable that stray cats still abound, in most areas, with the exception of one, and that would be the vicinity around the toothless lady’s abode. It was also on some occasion that one might chance to see a scattering of little ribs around this locale along paths and roadside. It was even rumored that one year, villagers had expended all of their earnings to buy a small whole pig, to offer to their local guardian god as blot for his favor. And an unthinkable thing had happened. As the pig lay splayed in the protective shelter of the temple, someone took it. Robbing god! All eyes were on the toothless lady, it was said. Yet she walked the streets unconcerned, with a callous smile. What ill luck she would bring this village, no one could imagine.
So it began. At first, there were small packages outside of her doorstep, of food that some could spare, and other gifts, such as little carved statues, or bits of cloth. But it became clear what the toothless lady cared for, as villagers found their offerings dumped in local’s fishponds and thrown over stone walls. The only thing that the toothless lady kept were gifts of BBQ, specifically, ribs. As the tributes became more satisfying for her, it was observed that the weather grew milder, earning opportunities increased among villagers, and wealth began to build. Through this connection, she became more broadly known as the BBQ witch. Her status had been raised to a local, living god. Yet this is not the end of the story. With surging confidence and pride, it only took a generation for the village to feel its prosperity was from its own excellence and efforts, and that the beliefs of the past were a hindrance of their parents. The BBQ witch began to return to her oddball status as the village hermit and wanderer, and the gifts lain at her door to appease became less, and then ceased. Lessons in the realm of supernatural influence are hard earned. There was then a price to be paid. A drought came, food became more scares, and farms failed. And then there was a bad typhoon season, in which there was flooding, widespread property damage, and loss of life. Life returned to struggling, and people wondered what they had done wrong. While some attributed these events to chance and luck, there was one more blight that no one could deny was an unnatural curse on their village. It was thought to have begun during a typhoon. A young family had battened down their house as the wind and rain beat hard against door and window in the night. A young boy in his bed cried out. He said the howling storm outside of his window was calling his name in a horrible cackling voice. Inconsolable, his parents let him sleep between them that night. And in the morning, he was gone.
With no sign of forced entry, it could only be assumed the boy had left the house on his own. Searches followed, to no avail. Rumors spread, the parents told of how the boy heard a voice calling him the night he disappeared. After a week, a lone thin bone was paraded about the town by a black dog that was never seen again. Other disappearances followed. A child walking to school, a mere kilometer stroll, never arrived. Twins riding their bicycles together down a lane never emerge from a wooded grove. And all this while, it seemed, black smoke seeped in little puffs from beneath the BBQ witch’s front door. With sadness and surrender, the village pooled their money and roasted an oversized pig, leaving it at the BBQ witch’s door. No one saw it taken in, but it seemed to immediately vanish. Within days, the luck of the village returned. Crops seemed to leap in size overnight, and businesses had landfalls. The new-found wealth brought celebration and feasting. Traditional BBQs of national days and Chinese New Year increased to several times a week. Outdoor cooking on a grill, ribs of pig and cow were sumptuously consumed, and the BBQ witch made her rounds, inviting herself to every house patio and sidewalk with a grill and ribs. Though not greeted, she was tolerated as everyone knew the cost of shunning her. The black smoke filled the air, and the village became famously known as Black Sky Township.
Today, our restless and troublesome children squirm themselves to quiet sleep at night under the threat of being wisked away by the hungry BBQ witch who hears the sounds of noisy children or those tardy for their beds at night. “Beware” they are warned, “or the BBQ witch will hear you, and come to steal you away. She’ll BBQ your ribs and spit out your bones in the street!”
The Mosquito Queen
A museum display, corded off with a yellow velveteen sash in a corner, poorly lit, as if a janitor’s tool closet rather than a presentation : a fifty gallon steel drum, dented on one side and painted a turquoise blue, with streaks and gashes of orange rust showing through, a cement cast cauldron that might accommodate goldfish in a back yard garden, some varied colored plastic buckets of different sizes, some cracked down their sides, a brick façade wall painted over grey, accentuating the dimness of the room’s iridescent illumination, with a high rectangular window lit through from the other side to simulate sunlight the entire scene being damp and containers filled to their brims and leaking with water, churning with brown and white speckled mosquito larva constituting a farming of them – is what you can expect to see on entering the Old House, as it had been known before, prior to historicizing the objects and events of its exhibition. Now, it was The Museum of the Mosquito Queen. As before, they tried to retain its setting and surroundings. It still perched slightly on a hill of a long and broad furrowed field at the outskirts of town.
Another room you’ll find is full of mature females, and a complicated gulfing of air from circulatory vents assures that they always give the impression of swarming in massive, purposeful blankets as black as the darkest storm cloud, and numbering in the millions of individuals. You risk a death from anemia or any number of viral contractions from entering in here, so the culture monger must sign multiple releases and waivers. Be warned. Now you know.
Outside the door and on the grounds, visitors are accompanied by a simulation of her voice, intoning, “I am the Mosquito Queen and you do what I say,” affected with various echoes and cheap movie effects, rings in cheap crackling electric spark of broken speakers across the dilapidated grasslands and meadows of the dilapidated shire. It was thought she suffered from emphysema, so, the curator made the recorded voice rough and phlegmatic. For something at the level of the fairground thrill, it was effectively chilling, and, much what it must have been like to be oppressed by her presence in those darker times. These managed terrors seemed all too authentic, and perhaps so much, that it might be worried they would conjure her dreaded spirit once again, like the grotto where you row a canoe out into a swamp to relive the primitive horrors of early era dwellers, and find the allegators are all too real, or the cat ghost beneath the thick blanket at night during a storm, impossible to ignore, “meow, meow, meow.”
If anymore was from these environs or had roots here they would surely know of the Mosquito plague famed simply as Sour Gash. It takes little imagination to deduce why this name was chosen as its moniker. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, the victim would find their flesh opening up randomly in long broad wounds that would not bleed, but rather become opalescent in color and reek out a smell so bad that you could almost see its thick fumes. Hysterical madness and death followed, and not soon enough. To suffer this was inhuman. And who or what brought such horror to the land? It was that queen!
In nature, rarified matters form variously as forces and pressures act on them, be they mineral or vegetable. Coal forms into diamond, stalagmites form from eons of dripping, and oil distills from plant-life under pressure and long decay. Witches and gods may be more of the same, their natures exaggerated and refined in the forge of the deep earth, sky, or ocean. The teemings of the beasts and worldly pests, and itching of pleasure and discomfort serve to complement in traits that differentiate the witch or god from granite, fossil, oils or precious gems. They are imbued with a purposefulness and motive that animates them, as another force does living things. The witch or the god is dead, but, they seem not so. And that is what makes them the most frightening, this mocking disguise.
Whenever in a crowd, someone has ordered you. It may be silent, spoken, a command or something felt, but you were influenced as were the others to have gathered there. So witches have instructed their familiars under their control, as gods have driven followers toward the edge of cliffs. The Mosquito Queen was fashioned from the rarities of earth, as I have just described. And as such, took no nourishment as living bodies might but rather sucked a kind of feeling that was in her power to compel. The prick of pain at being stung by the mosquito stinger, amplified a million fold was what she longed for in her lifeless depravity. Infliction! And in her power, she could drive the million stinger in a swarming black fog engulfing victims in the horrible shroud of bloodsucking and viral infusions.
In the cold of winter, all her pets were harbored in old wartime cement pillboxes and underground in caves of mountain troops’ retreats from detection. She would check them daily and they would greet her with a buzzy good morning as their hunger grew. Their lifecycles were suspended in her care, a spell she cast commuted their sentence of short life, and their numbers accumulated geometrically by the day. And then, when temperatures warmed, and stagnant water sat, the black clouds were released into the open spaces of the world! A farmer is engulfed as he shouldered his basket of corn, stings drained him as he folded deflated in a pile of arid parts. You are there. One mosquito is enjoined to raid a marketplace, and finds a victim leaning over bread. One sting is all it takes. It drinks the blood, and in exchange, it lets the virus slip into the host. It isn’t long, before the victim leaves the store, the body ripples into gasping purple lipped vents, the Sour Gash has struck! Afar, evil joy churns and overflows. The Mosquito Queen basks.
The beauty of these island havens never pales, like the old growth of the northern hemisphere, yet some other lurking makes bucolic environs insidious and amassing in dangers. You’ve seen it all before! Cute faced with a toxic quill, flights of color likened to a dabbling artist with their paints but touch of the skin that sends admirers wreathing in spasms of pain. It is so with all of earth, with its menagerie of deadlys.
The Ghost Cat
Everywhere a cat can squeeze its body through a crack can be their haunt. Are we then surrounded by their spirits? Maybe, and maybe some, more than others, hold a magic key for transporting from world to world. Something earned or learned of in their life. Some cats are special.
I the author have some personal memories of cats.
A blanket is a second cover of darkness in the night. Any streetlight or the lamps of passing cars that filter through a window become doubly barred by a blanket pulled up over heads. The double darkness makes the lock that fits the special ghost cat’s magic key. Mystery solved! The cat comes to the bed of children, hiding from the things that move in the night. ‘Meow.” Almost silent, an echo as if through a long corridor. Approaches through an empty vacuumed expanse. “Meow.” More emphatic, plaintive, and chilling by the addition of a wobble in its pitch, perhaps the cat has intention of being frightening. “We should give it ghost cat food,” a voice reasons, from one of three disembodied speakers engulfed within the blanket, perhaps this is a parent. (sounds of opening an imaginary can, the tinkle of a little spoon, the sound of wet imaginary cat food landing in a bowl) (cat licks, tongue sounds, maybe a purr while eating) Suddenly it is completely silent again. “The cat went away!” yes, it had. Blanket thrown off, laughter. When the ghost cat comes, you must feed it ghost cat food. Then it will go away until the next night. Cats come and go. The average lifespan of a stray cat is two years. In Bandung in Indonesia, staying overnight in a house painted black inside and out, only rivaled by the former Church of Satan in Amsterdam, which had been transformed into a strip club called Bananas, cats began to howl at midnight. From a third-floor window that looked down over most rooftops, I could see scores of cats leaping from roof to roof, caterwauling in the heat, fighting, mating in droves on the terracotta. They tired by three, and by four, the call to worship began from loudspeakers mounted on the spires of mosques. In Taiwan is a village for old soldiers who have now all passed away, which has been taken over by cats. Some kindly types consider it a holy place, and come daily to feed the ever growing community of felines.
While studying music composition in college, it was recommended that I buy a pet to help me stay at home at night, to help further my studies by making me a homebody. It was a reasonable idea, and I purchased a white mouse. After some initial introductions of forms and concepts, the composition students were finally required to compose a piece of music for a small orchestra, to be performed in class. I had a few days to complete the assignment, but by the night before, I was still drawing a blank. I looked at the music paper on my table, and then I looked at my mouse. And then I had an idea. I found a bottle of India ink and poured some into a saucer. Then I took my mouse out of his cage, wet his feet in the ink, and let him run around on my tabletop covered with music paper. After a little jaunt, I cleaned off his feet and put him back in his cage. The ink spots he created were unusual but surprisingly patterned, and easy to transcribe, and arrange for eight instruments. What I thought would be an all-nighter turned out to be an early night in. The composition went over very well in class. The performance left students and musicians initially silent. And then came a very deep discussion of the content, and the form. I took all of the credit. A work of some genius the teacher said. Subsequent compositions got only better as I learned how to collaborate with my partner. And I was being heralded as the next new thing. Being a young man, I still visited my family on national days. This time, I traveled with my new friend the mouse. Over dinner, my family found my new partnership amusing. Their crazy son and brother, making good at school with his foolish ways! At some time during the activities that day, the family cat managed to sneak its way into the room unnoticed, slip open the door to the mouse cage and remove the mouse. When I saw he was missing, I knew exactly what had happened. My mind flashed to ten years before, to my first pet ever. It was a pretty blue parrot, which we kept in a cage hanging from a freestanding pole to the side of the television in the living room. After only a day in our home, the parrot was missing from his cage. How had he escaped, I wondered. No amount of searching turned him up. He was gone. A week later, I was playing in our basement, where I often liked to roll on top of the potatoes in their bins, they felt so comfortable and cool. Underneath the stairs, I came across a single blue feather. So, that was my poor pet’s fate, eaten by the cat. I went there now. Sure enough, a single tiny bone and a spot of blood was all I found of my gifted mouse. I tried to simulate our compositional inventions, but there was no repeating the chemistry we had. In my mind, the family cat had destroyed the future of western music. Long gone now, but does this cat still wander the earth, cursed for his sins? Does he seek out beloved or useful pets to slaughter to satisfy his malignant hungers? Or is it simply a contempt for beauty in response to him own mundane and talentless embodiment?
For some months, my wife took up a practice of rescuing cats. That sometimes involved a difficult capture of a stray, or taking in a litter of abandoned kittens. At any given time, we housed twelve or more cats in our rooms. She found homes for many, but some, which arrived in poor condition, died in her care. Perhaps their spirits lingered in this only home they had ever know, or, they sent out a beacon-like signal to the cats that passed and didn’t know their way. This was a safehouse. Our children still play the “ghost cat” game of hiding in bed under a blanket and feeding a ghost cat ghost cat food. But the truth is, it is not uncommon to hear a meow around our game. If we sleep with the window open, it is not surprising to hear them in our stray infested neighborhood. Yet it is possible, and sounds to be, that the spirit of one on occasion enters our rooms and finds its way beneath the blanket to be fed by our innocent though sometimes morbidly obsessed children.
Four ARTSPEECH members Petra Dankova, Emma F. Kohoutova, Michael Tyrrell and Milan Kohout participate in this collective show at Midway Gallery in Boston.
( http://www.midwaygallery.org/#/new-page-5/. )
“Waking up from a Covid Nightmare into Global Climatic Collapse Nightmare”
Curated by Milan Kohout.
Midway Studios Gallery15 Channel Ctr St., Boston, MA ,USA
Open from September 15 till November 15, 2021every day from 8Am till 8PM
Michael Tyrrell: “Face the Nation”
Emma F. Kohoutova: “An Issue of Domestication”
Petra Dankova: “Some Things Fall Apart”
Milan Kohout, Petra Dankova: “Yves Klein’s Family Drowning”(Real bodies size imprints on a glass)
Milan Kohout:( three pieces)
“Checking the Blood Pressure of rivers, the Veins of our Collapsing Eco-System”
“Flood of Death”
This document, in Czech, is a history of performance.