Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review of Hostings 6

Thanks to Andy Sharp for this fantastic write-up about Hostings 6

Sarah Sparkes' highly stimulating creative research project GHost returned to Senate House on leap day for its 6th event. The first of two complementary hostings to explore the relationship between landscape and manifestation, it featured contributions from Sharon Kivland, Laura Ellen Joyce, Hayley Lock, and the first outing for Eerie Anglia. Sharon's contribution was a set of imagined holiday photographs from Freud's brother's collection. Laura presented her work in progress – a discourse on the perverse collision of idyllic landscape and violence in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Hayley's piece was a mixed media performance taking readings from the rather disturbing letters of a pathologically infantilised John Ruskin. Eerie Anglia (Mark Fisher and I) screened a documentary based on Mark's essay “Bleak and Solemn: the hauntological landscapes of M R James”.

Particularly interesting for me, as the event progressed, was the emergence of intriguing imaginal correspondences between each of the presentations. It's actually a testament to the intelligence and depth of the GHost project that the night was able to project this poetic layering of meaning. Also inspiring was the post presentation question and answer session - brimming with passionate discourse.
"Reisen - the Snow on Alpine Peaks" Sharon Kivland

Sharon's postcards were witty and ambiguous souvenirs of Freudian neurosis and the phantoms of false memories that plague regression therapy. We were told that Sigmund suffered an irrational fear of steam trains. Through analysis he was able to overcome this phobia, eventually able to enjoy railway holidays. Were the photos a fabricated remembrance of things that were not – I enjoyed the fantasy they were fictions. The archetypal psychologist James Hillman famously rebranded the careers of Jung, Freud and Adler as fiction writers in the genre of healing. Sharon's photographs were a testament to Hillman's assertion.

"Reisen - the Smoke of Steam Trains" Sharon Kivland
The steam train itself becomes a psychosexual ghost, emerging like a night demon from melodramatic plumes. But more than this, Sharon's slides elucidated the railway station as an archetype of haunted landscape. During the making our documentary and the construction of the essay Mark and I visited Sheringham railway station, which was used in Peter Clarke's version of a Warning To The Curious. The station is a heritage show station – lovingly preserved as a museum, a simulacra of a 1930s world, but also a dream station, one waiting to be inhabited by the alabaster succubi of a Delvaux painting. James' neurotic bedsheet spectres become classical statues.

Andy Sharp and Mark Fisher "reactivate haunted landscapes" of M.R. James
Indeed there was an interesting post-presentation discussion on artistic use of the fairground ghost train. The analogy that came to mind for me during these discussions is that our desire to revisit and in a sense reactivate haunted landscapes serves up the same wonky thrill as clattering through the creaking doors of the ghost train ride. It's not a flashy augmented reality, but one in which reality is deconstructed in an uncanny yet sobering way – such that we can at least glimpse the clapboard facades that make up our already augmented realities. It's a meditative ritual to strip away the thrills and actively experience loneliness.

This is particularly true when visiting film locations – we obtain an insight into the magic of the cinematic framing of a scene, and this gives us a very real temporal and spatial jolt. I suspect that jolt is one of recognition: that our reality is as artificially constructed as a film set – what the Buddhists term a Lila, a masque, or play. Visiting film locations has the same effect as hearing the original source of a sample after hearing the sampled song – time plays backwards, but also our cultural appropriations are laid bare.

"time plays backwards..." Andy Sharp and Mark Fisher  Bleak and Solemn

The abundance of web sites and DVD extras dedicated to documenting film and TV locations, often in near forensic detail – like crime scenes in reverse, they are abandoned by their former dramas – I hope is less a nerdish obsession than a pilgrimage. Paul Devereux, in Living Sacred Wisdom, discusses the magical intent of pilgrimage, that moving through various limen, or walking a labyrinth, is designed to induce an altered state of consciousness. I would like to think film location hunting is about a similar drive; drawing us closer to a pop culture Godhead – the projectionist at an inner cinema of our filmic memories. It's a religious impulse, a seeking thing. We want to know how these hyperreal yet false memories were constructed.
Laura Joyce "deliciously morbid investigation into the paradox of beauty and violence"

The crime scene featured heavily in Laura's deliciously morbid investigation into the paradox of beauty and violence. Through a series of provocative annotations her talk revealed the omen of the idyll as a sure sign that something terrible is about to happen. Her case study was Ovid's Metamorphoses – Prosperina is raped while collecting flowers, it's an eternal image and one salaciously put to effect by the mass media – the abandoned bicycle of Genette Tate on a quiet county lane in Devon still haunts the newspaper pages of my childhood memories. Tate as Prosperina, Robert Black her suspected killer, the Plutonic delivery man to the underworld. It struck me that Laura's delineation of Ovid's grim subversion of the locus amoenus was a very necessary and gothic reality check against the contrived naivety of rustic psychogeography. The gothic horror of the rural is a Jamesian trope and there was an interesting correspondence between James and Ovid thrown up by Laura's recounting of Myrrha's transformation into a tree - after having being made pregnant by her father. In James' The Ash Tree the vengeful spectre of an executed witch, Mrs Mothersole, inhabits a tree and wreaks havoc on the nearby hall. If you visit the village of Great Livermere, where James resided as a child, then you will find many Mothersole graves, including one beneath a large tree that leans onto the church roof. I can't help but feel that James' used this arrangement of tree, grave and building as the inspiration for the narrative structure of the story. The subversion of locus amoenus has its decadent counterpart in Octave Mirbeau's Torture Garden. Beautifully manicured lawns become the venue for exquisitely fiendish executions. One prisoner is even tortured in the hollow of a tree.

The Pyramid Builders Hayley Lock 2012

Mark's essay discussed the recurring motif of inorganic demons and xenolithic artefacts in the stories of M R James. A fascinating counterpoint to James' inorganic demons was disturbingly presented by Hayley Lock in her performance of John Ruskin's letters to his cousin Joan. Interspersed with the deeply infantilised love letters of a clearly psychotic Ruskin, the performance also took excerpts from a series of lectures by Ruskin discussing morality - through the metaphor of crystals. In Ruskin's mind, young women and xenoliths fuse to render inorganic angels. I suspect Ruskin's fixation for his young cousin is an example, par excellence, of Stendhal's theory and experience of “crystallisation”. The term crystallisation has become codified in therapeutic parlance as the extreme end point of limerence. There is a wonderful description by Mark, of Parkin, the central character in Oh Whistle, as “a crumbling logical positivist”. Hearing Hayley's performance this would be equally apposite for the creepy Ruskin. His baby talk letters whilst queasy also have the dissociative quality of poltergeist speak. Where James' rural invaders are pursued by the spirits of inorganic demons, Ruskin's limerent Conniston is populated with inorganic angels.
The Valley of the Diamonds Hayley Lock, 2012

To illustrate Ruskin's lectures, Hayley had produced ten collages of landscape metamorphosed through a Claude Glass. Her collages show weird orb like intrusions, renaissance UFOs only seen through the prism of the scrying mirror. Mountain symbolism echoed through the talks. Sharon's holiday photographs showed an absent Freud vacationing in the Alps. Hayley\s performance was annotated by a video loop from Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, a girl by a mountain stream picking flowers. Ovid's crime scene idylls fuse with the romantic pederasty of Conniston's mystic. If the train is a steampunk demon then our destination is at the mountains of madness with John Ruskin.

The inspiration for Hayley's piece came from a residency at Ruskin's lakeside idyll, Brantwood. Staying over in one of the rooms, she was visited by the spectre of Ruskin. Brantwood looks over Conniston water, where Donald Campbell died when his jet powered boat Bluebird somersaulted and disintegrated during an attempt to break the water speed record. Bluebird is an inorganic demon, but also a creature of born of macho hubris against nature, epitomised by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson. I secretly hope Campbell's gelatinous ghost will rise one day from the lake like the false ending in Friday 13th. Stone and man resonate through Ruskin's biography. Brantwood is haunted by the fell, Old Man Conniston, in local lore, a simulacra of Ruskin. The museum at Conniston exhibits a giant xlyophone constructed by the perverse polymath of Brantwood. It is called an harmonicum and is made from singing stone quarried in the fells. There would appear to be sirens in all Ruskin's mineral obsessions.

Brantwood "Ruskin's lakeside idyll" 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hosting 7: Presence - Manifesting Ghosts

GHost invites you to join us for:

Hostings 7: Presence – Manifesting Ghosts
 March 14th 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Still from Last Chance for a Slow Dance by Hollington & Kyprianou, 2007

An evening of interdisciplinary talks and presentations exploring the desire to materialise what is absent.
Venue: The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House South Block, University of London
(An apparition known as 'The Blue Lady' has been reported to haunt the adjoining Senate room)

Hollington & Kyprianou, “Technology & the Uncanny”
Jack Hunter, “Expressions of Spirithood”
John Sabol, “The Forgotten Soldier: Manifestations of the Continuing Presence of Colonel William Holmes (1862-2011)”

This is a free event but places are limited so please email: to reserve your seats

And don't forget to also reserve seats for Hostings 6: Absence - Haunted Landscapes on February 29th. With Sharon Kivland, Mark Fisher and Andy Sharp, Laura Joyce and Hayley Lock.

Hostings 7 Programme
Hollington & Kyprianou -Technology & the Uncanny
Far from empirical science and technological progress dampening the enthusiasm for magical or spiritual readings, the use and improvement of technology trades on the same sense of awe and the uncanny previously provided by mystical phenomena. The symbiotic relationship between technology and the uncanny is not only one of a shared notion of the sublime, but also one of appropriation.
This paper will discuss the relationship between technology and the uncanny through historical and contemporary examples as well as referencing our own collaborative artist practice.
Hollington and Kyprianou are London based artists who have been collaborating for over ten years.
 Their work investigates how competing representations of science and politics shape the boundaries of debate and the locus of the rational. Their materials are drawn from archives of primary objects, scenarios from film and mainstream culture, oral history, interviews and hearsay to create new narrative spaces that are simultaneously funny and un-nerving. Their work as been shown widely in the UK including Tate Modern and ICA London and internationally at The 51st Venice Biennale, as well as in Europe, North and South America and Australia.
 Their latest project, a time travel murder mystery can be seen here:

Jack Hunter - Expressions of Spirithood
The body is the primary tool for the expression of personality. It is our interface with the physical world and our everyday means of communicating with each other, both verbally and non-verbally. The way in which we use our bodies, therefore, is of key importance to the way we are perceived as individual personalities. In trance mediumship, and spirit possession, practices the human body is used for the expression of multiple personalities and non-physical entities. This paper will explore the differing ways in which the human body is utilised as a means for the expression of spirits in a variety of different cultural contexts, from the ecstatic dancing of Afro-Brazilian Candomble mediums to the relatively static demonstrations of Euro-American trance mediums. It will explore the different methods employed by mediums to signify the presence of spirits and will examine the role of performance in making the spirit world tangible. These techniques will be contrasted with the methods of contemporary ghost hunters (i.e. the use of electronic equipment to infer the presence of spirits), and will address the similarities and differences in the ways in which the presence of spirits is recognised during trance demonstrations and modern ghost hunts. All of this will be presented with the aim of furthering our understanding of the nature of spirits and their culturally specified modes of expression in the physical world.
Jack Hunter is a PhD student in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol, UK. His research looks at contemporary trance mediumship in Bristol, and focusses on themes of personhood, personality, altered states of consciousness and anomalous experience. He is the founder and editor of "Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal.” In 2010 he received the Eileen J. Garrett scholarship from the Parapsychology Foundation, and in 2011 was awarded the Gertrude Schmeidler award by the Parapsychological Association.

John Sabol - The Forgotten Soldier: Manifestations of the Continuing Presence of Colonel William Holmes (1862-2011)
What occurs at a location perceived to be haunted, who continues to manifest years, even centuries, after physical death and why? Avery Gordon, in her book Ghostly Matters (1996), states that the ghost is a social figure, and one who manifests as one form by which something lost or forgotten makes itself known. A haunting, according to Gordon, is a very particular way of knowing what has happened and what continues.. So much has already been lost, forgotten or destroyed in the accelerated pace of contemporary life and technological advancement. Yet, it is this same technology that may write that forgotten history and tell, with voices echoing from the past, individual ghost stories.
At the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, the single bloodiest day of combat in American History, Colonel William Holmes of the 2nd Georgia became the last soldier to die in combat at Burnside Bridge. He has become lost to history, his memory forgotten. His burial site near the bridge remained undiscovered until our “ghost excavations” there in 2010/2011. Through contextual scenarios, enacted by our female investigators and RT-EVP audio recordings, the postscript to his death emerges. This becomes not another ghost story, but rather auditory manifestations of a plea to “go home” to Georgia and be properly buried. His voiced responses, on numerous occasions, still haunts us today, 150 years after his remains were lost to history.
John Sabol is an archaeologist, cultural anthropologist, actor, and “ghost excavator”. He has a M.A. in Anthropology/archaeology (University of Tennessee), and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology (Bloomsburg University). As an archaeologist, he has worked on excavations and site surveys in England, Mexico, and at various sites in the United States. His anthropological fieldwork includes the studies of “ghosts” and native religious beliefs in the afterlife among various groups in Mexico . His acting career includes “ghosting” performances of various characters and scenarios in more than 35 movies, TV shows, and documentaries. He has conducted “ghost excavations” (an archaeological-ethnographic-theatrical approach embodied in the P.O.P. Theory) in the USA and Europe. He has appeared in the A&E TV series, Paranormal State as an investigative consultant. He has published 13 books including: Ghost Excavator (2007), Ghost Culture (2007), Digging Up Ghosts (2011), and the Haunted Theatre (2011).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hostings 6: Absence - Haunted Landscapes

GHost requests the pleasure of your company at:

Hostings 6: Absence – Haunted Landscapes
 February 29th 2012 (leap day), 6.30pm – 9.00pm

we are hanging by our teeth, Hayley Lock 2011,
digitally manipulated print, ink and glitter

An evening of interdisciplinary talks and presentations exploring the desire to materialise what is absent through the medium of haunted landscapes.
Venue: The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House South Block, University of London
(An apparition known as 'The Blue Lady' has been reported to haunt the adjoining
Senate room)

Sharon Kivland, Reisen: The limpid Waters of Mountain Lakes, The Snow on Alpine Peaks, The Smoke of Steam Trains”(three short films)
Mark Fisher and Andy Sharp, Bleak And Solemn... the hauntological landscapes of M.R. James
Laura Joyce, Haunted Idylls: Crime Scenes in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'
Hayley Lock, Spoiling my pussies love time

This event is free but places are limited - rsvp to reserve your seat.

Up next: Hostings 7: Presence – Manifesting Ghosts
 March 14th 2012, 6.30pm – 9.00pm
With:  Hollington & Kyprianou, “Technology & the Uncanny”, Jack Hunter, “Expressions of Spirithood”, John Sabol, “The Forgotten Soldier: Manifestations of the Continuing Presence of Colonel William Holmes (1862-2011)”
e.mail to reserve seats 

Sharon Kivland - Reisen
Hostings 6: Absence – Haunted Landscapes, will commence with a screening of three very short films by Sharon Kivland titled, Reisen: The limped waters of mountain lakes, The snow on alpine peaks and The smoke of steam trains. The images in the films are photographs, from a series of works which the artist re-photographed from old postcards. The images also relate to two small pamphlets, entitled Reisen, which refer to the trains, train journeys, railway-lines, stations, station platforms, railway timetables, ticket collectors, and train compartments in the life and work of Sigmund Freud. Each film is subtitled ‘Every year Sigmund Freud went on holiday with his brother, Alexander’.
Sharon Kivland is an artist and writer and 'occasional curator' working in London and France. She holds a Masters in History of art, Goldsmiths College, University of London and a
Doctorate from The History of Art Department, University of Reading. She is a researcher at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London, and a Visiting Fellow at the IGRS, University of London. She has exhibited widely in Europe and North America and is represented by DomoBaal, London, Galerie Bugdahn & Kaimer, Düsseldorf, and Galerie des petits carreaux, Paris. Publications include Freud on Holiday volume III. The Forgetting of a Proper Name
co-published by Cube Art Editions, Athens, and information as material, York 2011 and A Case of Hysteria, Book Works, London, 1999.

Mark Fisher and Andy Sharp - Bleak And Solemn... the hauntological landscapes of M.R. James
We present our short film "Bleak And Solemn... the hauntological landscapes of M.R. James" - in which we provide an annotated exploration of real and cinematic locations in two of the author's ghost stories. This will be followed by a short talk discussing the desire to explore horror and ghost film locations. Does exploring such places allow us to enter a ludic and augmented reality? Can this give us access to a forgotten arena of energised play and creative fear, akin to childhood experience. Can we use the intersection of film and location to subvert Williams Burroughs' magical formula: "cut-up reality and the past leaks through"?
By overlaying celluloid and concrete recollections of haunted landscapes, can we create new imaginary films, in which we are the main spectres?
Mark Fisher is the author of Capitalist Realism and the forthcoming Ghosts of my Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. He teaches at the University of East London, Goldsmiths, University of London and the City Literary Institute. His writing regularly appears in Film Quarterly, The Wire, Sight&Sound and on his own weblog, k-punk.
Andy Sharp runs the English Heretic project - an organisation of the imaginative faculty, dedicated to unearthing, researching and speculating upon England's landscapes and tragic figures. Combining literary, audio and visual guides English Heretic have released numerous publications and recordings since 2003 including "The English Heretic Collection 1 and 2", "Wyrd Tales 1 and 2", "Tales Of The New Isis Lodge", "Your passport to the qliphoth" and "Plan for the assassination of Princess Anne". English Heretic also conduct public ceremonies, having recently appeared at "Past, Present and Future" festival at Wysing Arts Centre. Andy Sharp has also talked on a wide range of magical topics, most recently on "The Cult of Ku" at Treadwell's Bookshop. English Heretic have just published their latest book "Wyrd Tales 2", a 140 page illustrated anthology of speculative fiction.

Laura Joyce - Haunted Idylls: Crime Scenes in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'
Then he hastened with the frightened Philomela into most wild and silent solitudes of an old forest; where, concealed among deep thickets a forbidding old house stood…but even while her agonizing screams implored her sister's and her father's aid, and while she vainly called upon the Gods, he overmastered her with brutal force.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses contains several descriptions of sexual violence, torture, brutality and murder which take place in beautiful, idyllic settings. Often he introduces a sacred grotto, a lush spring, a secret grove, or a dark, impenetrable forest to set a scene. Within these sublime, numinous spaces, he contaminates the landscape with violence and degradation. The spaces continue to be haunted by the violence committed there, as the victims of the crimes do not disappear, but rather metamorphose into elements of the scene itself; from Myrrha’s agonising pregnancy trapped inside a tree, to the terrified Callisto, transformed into a bear, only to be hunted by her son. The quote above is taken from the episode of Tereus and Philomela, and describes the beginning of the brutal campaign of violence done to the girl, set in an ‘old forest’ among ‘deep thickets’, a sure sign that horror will ensue.
My paper will look briefly at the history of the locus amoenus or ‘pleasant place’ in classical poetry, and at the subversive use which Ovid makes of this trope. I will also be guided by Derrida’s essay ‘Hostipitality’ which looks at the etymological links between hostility and hospitality, and the ways in which this impacts on the disruption of the locus amoenus in Ovid. I will also look briefly at Henry Bond’s Lacanian work on crime scene photography, in order to delineate the psychotic nature of Ovid’s haunted spaces.
Laura Joyce is a DPhil student in Creative and Critical Writing at The University of Sussex. Her research is on body horror, necrophilia, murder and sado-masochistic violence, and the haunted spaces that these acts inhabit. Laura is writing a novella as part of her research, from the point of view of a group of murdered women, based on the femicides in Ciudad Juarez. Her first novel, about the killing of six year old beauty queen Jonbenet Ramsey, will be published in June 2012.

Hayley Lock - Spoiling my pussies love time
The ten lectures contained within John Ruskin’s ‘The Ethics of the Dust’ written in 1875 frames a dialogue between the girls of Winnington Hall in Cheshire and an elderly lecturer who references crystallography and scientific knowledge through dreams as a medium for teaching. Referencing Sinbad’s adventures from the tale of a Thousand and one nights, Ruskin describes these haunted landscapes in an effort to educate the young ladies before him about the moralistic complexities embedded in human culture through scientific enquiry, structure and order.
Using the titles of each lecture, I propose to create ten pieces of work, each of which contain a landscape from each chapter. The chapters are: The Valley of Diamonds, The Pyramid Builders, The Crystal Life, The Crystal Orders, Crystal Virtues, Crystal Quarrels, Home Virtues, Crystal Caprice, Crystal Sorrows and The Crystal Rest. I propose to show these works as a Ruskin lecture.
Each landscape will be placed within a recreation of a Claude Glass, a tourist drawing tool or a black glass that Ruskin was said to loathe for its inaccuracies, favouring instead the magnifying glass for fine detailing.
These Claude Glass visions haunted Ruskin in his imaginings through a series of mental breakdowns that occurred firstly in 1871 at a time of great stress with his mother’s death and his close cousins marriage (Ruskin later apologises in a series of letters to his cousin Joan for spoiling his pussies love time) and they continue to his death in 1900. Ruskin’s illnesses have since been recognised to fall at a point of loss when these dark imaginings muddled truth and reality with confusion and sorrow.
Ruskin attempted to throw away these black glasses into Coniston Water and as well as on his travels to Europe but on each occasion they were returned by Joan.
Hayley Lock studied at Goldsmith’s College, London and currently lives and works in Suffolk and Cambridge. Her practice straddles fact and fiction, truth and the fake. Weaving new narratives of history and myth through a complicated and sometimes mysterious tale of heartache, lust and delusional thinking, Lock allows her practice to accumulate, take unfathomable journeys and elicit deceit to create part encrypted biography and part parallel histories through drawing, collage, sculpture and sound. Previous exhibitions include These Living Walls of Jet, Ceri hand Gallery, London; Future 50, Project Space Leeds and To Taste Molten Diamonds, Backlit Studios, Nottingham. In 2011 and 2012 Lock reinvented new histories in historic places with her project (Now that would be) Telling which travelled to Ickworth House, Suffolk, Brantwood House, Cumbria, Dr Johnsons House, London, A La Ronde, Devon and Caddington Hall in London.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Haunted sea film night" hosted by Mesolithic Pop

GHost Film Night

                   Friday 10 February 2012h

Haunted Sea films by: Tymon Albrzykowski, Neil Baker, Nick Baxter & Jude Cowan & Joanna McCormick,
Emma Caddow, Kieron Clark, Inez de Coo, Glenn Church, Romeo Grünfelder,
Ellen Lake & Chris Green, Amy McDonough, Eva Rudlinger, Stasis73

These twelve international artists responded GHost's call for short films on the theme of “The Haunted Sea”. Their films were first screened on the final weekend of the Folkestone Triennial as part of GHosts activities during a three month residency at the B&B project Space

Hosted by Mesolithic Pop
  VENUE: The Workspace Group,
 2, Canterbury Court, Kennington Park Business centre, SW9 6DE
Near Oval Tube Station

Bring a blanket and/or cushions and settle yourself down to a night of haunting images and tasty treats. 

food for the living from
the Gutclub 

the fabulous Gutclub will be there making fresh food
for all the hungry ghosts in attendance

Take a wander around this cavernous gallery and marvel at the work of the Mesolithic Pop artists.

With Thanks to the Workspace Group

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Call for papers/ presentations/ performance: Hostings 6 & 7

Hosting 6: “Absence –  Haunted Landscapes”
Hosting 7: “Presence – Manifesting Ghosts”  

We invite proposals for papers, presentations, or performances of 30 minutes exploring the desire and attempt to materialise what is absent via the medium of haunted landscapes or through the manifestation of a ghost. We would like to hear from researchers within the fields of anthropology, art history, cultural studies, film studies, history, law, literary studies, parapsychology, psychology, philosophy etc. as well as practising artists.
The Hostings will take place in the Court Room, University of London, Senate House between 6.30 – 9.00pm on the 29th February and 14th March.
Please send a (working) title and an abstract of approximately 300 words. lnclude which Hosting you are submitting to and, if applicable, one or two pictures. 

Send these to Sarah Sparkes at: 

Deadline for submissions of proposals: 13th January 2012

Hostings 6:  Absence – Haunted Landscapes  

The Key Of Solomon, a medieval grimoire instructs magicians to seek out “places that lie concealed, distant and removed from the haunts of men. Wherefore desolate and uninhabited regions are most appropriate, such as the borders of lakes, forests, dark and obscure places, old and deserted houses, whither rarely and scarce ever men do come, mountains, caves, caverns, grottos, gardens, orchards...”

Could it be that this instruction suggests a common topography of the haunted landscape that such venues operate as amplifiers for achieving rapport with the dead? Perhaps it is the absence of life and the nature of our own loneliness that in fact haunts the landscape? Are places of tragedy imbued with spirits of their victims or is this just a romantic engagement, an imaginative association with a past event?   Is it possible to use a particular landscapes to facilitate the experience of paranormal phenomena – in this respect can landscape serve like the séance room for the natural channelling of the spirit of place, or the dead souls of its past? Moreover, have artists and writers intuitively apprehended these landscapes to manifest a haunted aesthetic?
GHost invites submissions exploring these or other ideas associated with the Haunted Landscape.

Hostings 7:  Presence – Manifesting Ghosts
“Ghost Seance has the potential to summon spirits at any given location and time although 3:00 a.m. usually produces the best results.” (Taken from a website advertising a séance app. for smart phones)

Writers, psychical investigators, mediums, parapsychologists, illusionists, artists all have manifested ghosts in their own way. The writers mind conjures up ghostly apparitions, pinning down their fleeting forms with words. In the darkened séance room both psychical investigator and audience witness phenomena produced by the medium. Whether witnessed by believer or sceptic, the spirit announces itself, with a common ghostly language: wraps, moving furniture, unexplained scents, temperature changes, phosphorescent lights etc. In more recent times visual and auditory ephemera has been described and captured by paranormal investigators, with the help of technological devices.  This new language of the ghostly reappears in the haunted aesthetics of films such as Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape  and in the work of contemporary artists such as Susan Hiller. When attempting to document ghosts, is it us or the ghosts who are controlling the means by which we describe and measure their presence?
GHost invites submissions exploring ghost-makers:  their means , methods and their reasons for manifesting ghosts.

 About GHost
 GHost is a visual arts and creative research project which explores the various roles ghosts play in contemporary culture by bringing artists, writers, curators, researchers and others together. In homage to Duchamp’s wordplay “A guest + a host = a ghost”, we take on and explore the various roles of ghosts, guests and hosts in our activities. The project has been running since 2008 and we have organised exhibitions, performance nights and so-called Hostings, seminar-style workshops which serve as a forum for exchange between thinkers and makers, audience and practitioners.  As a research project, GHost blurs the boundaries between the diverse research groups and audiences that exist for the paranormal and hosts events in which these groups can explore their various beliefs.  As a visual arts project, GHost explores the illusionary power of art and artists to create what could be seen as a ‘haunted aesthetic’. Visual art exhibitions have been hosted by a John Soane church in East London, at the London Art Fair and the Folkestone Triennial Fringe while the Hostings have been held at Senate House, University of London.
 GHost has been organising Hostings in association with the IGRS, School of Advanced Study, University of London since 2009.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Haunted Sea - final weekend in Folkestone

We had a fantastic weekend in Folkestone with the screening of The Haunted Sea films and an 'outerspherical' performance by English Heretic on 23rd September and then a final opening of the GHost CLHub on the 24th with a beautiful performance by three enchanting mermaids, who could really put any siren to shame. It was with sadness that we closed the show on the evening of the 24th. We loved Folkestone and our four-month residency at the B&B for the duration of the Triennial.
Here are some pictures from the final weekend.

an apparition of mermaids... Joanna McCormick with Martha and Ruby (photo by Sarah Sparkes)

The GHost CLHub counter (photo by Sarah Sparkes)

something is watching through the open cabinet... (photo by Sarah Sparkes)

Domingo Martínez's eerie family photographs between Matt Rowe's skulls and a greeting from the Count of Monte Christo. (photo by Sarah Sparkes)

Folkestone's Red Lady with Calum F. Kerr's red book of evil. (photo by Sarah Sparkes)

 The Haunted Sea at 64 Tontine Street (photo by Ricarda Vidal)

The GHost SHip gets ready for English Heretic (photo by Ricarda Vidal)

English Heretic whistles through closed church doors and evokes the spirit of M.R. James... Who is it who's coming? (photos - Ricarda Vidal & Sarah Sparkes)

Sound waves take their toll on our field of vision (photo by Ricarda Vidal)

GHost presents The Haunted Sea (photo by Sarah Sparkes)
Glenn Church's Salem Ghost Ship on the big screen (photo Sarah Sparkes)
  Eva Rudlinger's "Arctic Echo"- icy blasts by the warmth of candle light
(photo - Sarah Sparkes)
Watching The Haunted Sea films (photo by Ricarda Vidal)
A Ghost mermaid sings her siren's song in the dying light.
(photo: Sarah Sparkes)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Haunted Sea Film Screening

GHost presents

The Haunted Sea

                                                  Amy McDonough, Ash on my Skirt (still)

Short Film Screening
Musical Performance by English Heretic

Friday 23 September 2011
7pm doors open
7.30pm musical interlude by English Heretic
8pm film screening commences

64 Tontine Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1JP

We have selected twelve international artists who have responded to our call for short films on the theme of “The Haunted Sea”. Their films will be screened on the final weekend of the Folkestone Triennial:

Films by
Tymon Albrzykowski, Neil Baker, Nick Baxter & Jude Cowan & Joanna McCormick, Emma Caddow, Kieron Clark, Inez de Coo, Glenn Church, Romeo Grünfelder, Ellen Lake & Chris Green, Amy McDonough, Eva Rudlinger, Stasis73

English Heretic will open and close the event with “An intermission of aural lagan, manipulating phonographic salvage from the actual locations of M.R.James' ghost stories “A Warning to the Curious” and “Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You.”

Saturday 24th September, 2.00p - 6.00pm
the films will be screened on a loop at 64 Tontine Street
and the B&B Project Space will be open with
a final chance to glimpse the GHost CLHub

4.00pm – Performance by Joanna McCormick and Jude McGowanthe B&B Project Space, 14 Tontine Street

Film Programme

Arctic Echo, Dir. Eva Rudlinger, UK, 2008 The gradual appearance and disappearance of a white cliff facing its double at the mouth of an Icelandic fjord, subtly alters scenery and atmosphere. The temporary transfiguration of sea and sky recalls phenomena such as the arctic mirage witnessed in remote and high latitude settings.
Since completing an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, Eva Rudlinger's practice uses light, space, scale and elemental materials as a catalyst to explore perceptions of time and the temporal, thoughts and feelings, mainly expressed in the medium of photography, film and sculpture. She has participated in selected screenings and exhibitions in national and international festivals and galleries.

[desı’re:] the Goldstein Reels, Dir. Romeo Grünfelder, Germany, 2006
An old celluloid film is labelled as being from the estate of Jack Goldstein. The unusual S8 footage is nevertheless difficult to interpret. Due to partially missing data, place, time and author cannot be determined and keep the beholder in the dark. The ongoing investigation has not been able to produce a reasonable explanation of the circumstances.

The Radiographer’s Daughter, Dir. Stasis73, UK, 2011She had played the harp so beautifully she was called before the king. The wind became jealous and mustered a great storm that came and washed them all away. A storm that created new land, such was its fury, in exchange for old. And now sunken towns and villages hold memories of the marks that hands had made in their walls….and on a clear day, if you listen ever so carefully, you can hear the music she played the king in amongst the lapping of the now gentle tide.
Stasis73 is a freeform post-experimental sound and film outfit. Drawn together by the chemistry of the random.The perfect number is 73, because 73 is the 21st prime number. The mirror of 73 is 37, the 12 prime number. 12's mirror is 21. The products of 21 are 7 and 3. 7 and 3 together equal 73. 

Ash On My Skirt, Dir. Amy McDonough, UK, 2011 Ash On My Skirt tells the story of a mother scattering her son’s ashes at sea through the repeated and clashing musical refrains of a macabre Scottish folk ballad and the washing of the tides. It weaves together an address of an audience that is informational with something more lyrical.
Amy McDonough (Born Ashington Northumberland 1981.) BA English, Royal Holloway 2002. BA Fine Art, Goldsmiths 2006. PG Dip Fine Art, Royal Academy Schools 2011. Amy has exhibited films and performances both nationally and internationally: Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Clore Cinema Tate Britain and exhibitions in UK, Italy, Germany and Japan. She has recently been awarded the Deutsche Bank Award.

Dziwy Mórz Głębokich (The Deep Sea Wonders), Dir. Tymon Albrzykowski, Poland, 2010The film tells the twisted tale of a fantastic submarine expedition to the depths of the ocean to rescue a woman swallowed by a fish.
Tymon Albrzykowski was born in 1988. He studied film and artistic photography at the School of Arts in Gdynia (Poland) and graduated in 2008. Since October 2009 he studies at Lodz Film School (Poland) specializing in Animation Directing and Special Effects.

Oh Dreamland, Dir. Inez de Coo, UK, 2010
Made by combining photographs shot in Coney Island, New York and Dreamland, Margate with footage taken from the 1962 film Carnival of Souls, this video addresses the haunted feeling of abandoned fairs while suggesting that film and photography contain ghosts of their own in the way the mediums are created out of life and held in time. It is a video work with its own sense of time and logic that seduces the viewer as if it were a dream. 
Inez de Coo (Lutong, 1982) is a visual artist, specialising in video art. She completed her BA at the KABK in The Hague in 2008 and graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in summer 2011. She is interested in applying ideas from film theory alongside psychoanalysis and philosophy to explore the intersections between fiction and reality, exploring cinema’s role in shared social and cultural heritage as a record of collective memory.

The Salem Ghost Ship, Dir. Glenn Church, USA, 2011
The Salem Ghost Ship is based on the rich New England narrative folklore tradition. Ships from Salem sailed all over the world many never returning. This constant threat of untimely death would culminate in stories of ghost ships returning the souls of dead sailors back to the land they sailed from. 
Glenn Church’s work combines sound and its visual counterpart. He is interested in how these two disciplines combine to create ‘total’ and immersive psychological experiences. He works with multimedia to create expressions of social and psychological reactions to the 'personal' engagement with the world; both the 'seen' and the 'unseen'.

Mermaid Song, Dir. Nick Baxter, Jude Cowan, Joanna McCormick, UK, 2011
Mermaids squeeze the life out of sailors while attempting to rescue them. 
“Now you're blinded by starlight, and so I do not know your salty skin, your sailor's gleam, the dazzle of your fine heart's beam.”
Mermaids' tears are freshwater pearls.
“I cannot swim, the water's fluttering drift eludes me in the night.”
When you see a mermaid beware rough weather ahead.
“Were you to join me here, and sit with me on shore, I would delight to take your hand and lead you to the ocean's roar.”
Eat a mermaid's flesh and become immortal.
“And glide immersed and drifting, embracing storm and calm.”
A mermaid's kisses will cure your ills.
“And infinite consolation of the seas' deep lustrous balm.”
Mermaid Song is a collaboration with film maker Nick Baxter, invented from snippets of footage gathered while searching for monstrous wonders of the deep at Highcliffe on the Dorset coast bordering Hampshire.The film is a playful exploration of haunting themes, including the elusive quality of dreams, mystery, longing and loss.
Jude Cowan and Joanna McCormick are artists who delight in the absurd, the surreal and the spontaneous. Jude is also a musician and published poet and Joanna is artist in residence at Peckham Settlement and is part of Westminster Arts' Resonate team.

Edges of the Peripheries, Dir. Emma Caddow, UK, 2007 A phenomenological study.
Ephemeral gateways.
Transient precipitations.
A myriad of hopes.
This footage was shot at Harwich Seafront where the Doverport Lighthouse sit, which have been painted by John Constable.
Born in metropolis of Hong Kong, Emma travelled across a continent only to land in another metropolis, London. Having previously followed a more scientific career, a pivotal experience derailed her mathematical existence onto the free highway of art. Having recently completed a Fine Art BA at Middlesex University she specialises in film & video.

West of Arran, Dir. Neil Baker, UK, 2011
A fisherman is slowly strangled by a jumper his mother knitted in this sparse tale of love, loss and revenge from beyond the grave. 
Neil Baker is a widely published writer of bitter-sweet short stories and surreal, unsettling tales. He lives near the sea, outside of Rye.

Joy, Dir. Kieron Clark, UK, 2007Joy tells the story of a modern-day miracle and of its effects on the residents of a small seaside town. 
Kieron Clark is a South London-based writer, producer and director with several short films under his belt, including the UK Film Council-funded Joy, which has screened at festivals including Raindance, Brest and Leeds, and the short dramas Still Life and Gas.

Seaworthy, Dir. Ellen Lake and Chris Green, USA, 2010
Based on observations of everyday life – this short is an eclectic mix of cargo ships, tug boats, and sailboats shot on the Oakland Estuary, with a bluegrass soundtrack by Evie Ladin, and a body floating by – mixing fantasy and documentary, love and loss, while exploring the urban/marine landscape. 
Chris Green (scientist) and Ellen Lake (artist) join forces to make mechanical sculptures, videos, photographs, and installations. Working with metal, motors, electronics, and digital media they make art inspired from observations in everyday life. We are currently working on a series exploring contemporary urban space. Chris and Ellen live in Oakland, California. Ellen works at Kala Art Institute, a residency program for printmakers and digital media artists and Chris is an environmental scientist at the United States Geological Survey. Seaworthy has shown at the Director’s Lounge 2011 Urban Research Program “Places and Locations: Reality Check,” in Berlin, has traveled in Europe with Ciné Martiko, played at the Santa Fe International New Media Festival, “Currents 2011,” the Great Wall of Oakland, the Berkeley Art Center, and the Kala Art Gallery in Berkeley.