(Still from Sad Stonewash by Luke Wyatt, more about it below)
There is a room in the manor of the 20JFG where we go when our connection with ‘reality’ becomes too tenuous, perhaps having shaken off the last lingering remnants of post-Halloween shame, which involves cleaning the blood caked under our chewed-out fingernails, wiping off the nameless stuff specking the porcelain in the toilet, filling the cracks in the masonry of the walls of the cellar, re-stocking our supply of heavy-duty bin liners and so forth.
In that room, we store a device that generates super-immersive metaphors about the ‘real’ situation of the world in a language that our bizarre-attuned senses are able to parse. It is called the Ballard-o-matic.
Today, it renders the following scenario in our Virtual Reality headset:
Every screen no matter how tiny, is a portal into a land of ghosts projecting finger-tendrils that suck people inside their murky country of absolute mediation, stasis and eventual suffocation by the colossal forces of nostalgia. Feelings are blunted in an overload of info-sludge, and fractally projected reverberation.
So far, so poltergeist.
Zcom are a crack force fighting to restore a balance in the flow of creative energy between people-land and ghost-country. They deploy advanced scanners to reveal the seams in the fabric of the costume of the spectral Godzilla that so mesmerises us. They hunt down whales of emotion in the ocean of a catatonic Solaris. They are the ultimate barrier to dissolution in eternal regress.
We stroke the garish Citadel miniatures of their avatars at the protective altar set in the mantelpiece of our fallen manor.
Luke Wyatt’s ‘video mulch’ the Sad Stonewash is a parade of revenants from that ghost country, summoned in a séance where a VRC is judiciously battered with a docksider shoe until it spills a load of lies (errors) which are selected, processed and arranged in a composition that reveals a hidden truth akin to the glimpses of the Face of God sought by that Christian TV-watching sect in William Gibson’s Virtual Light.
What is this truth?
Perhaps that the Day of Judgement foretold in the Abrahamic religions has been rendered redundant by the humdrum resurrection of the flesh into a stream of decomposing pixels wandering media limbo. Perhaps that is what celebrity culture consists of, a search for immortality which is indeed attained, like Herbert West Reanimator attained it.
Be careful what you wish for – we’d rather be forgotten.
Luke Wyatt also produces the soundtrack for Sad Stonewash, under the guise of Torn Hawk. The music is ectoplasmically brooding, like the boogie with which Chromatics would have soundtracked the beginning of Drive, if only they had let their thrilling throb be infected by the entropic malaise at the heart of the American post-industrial hinterland (cf. Implog’s Holland Tunnel Drive, Ike Yard’s Night after Night).
Gary War pulls impressive psychic aikido moves to suck the ghosts out of the machine, and sketches a dreamscape where they can ‘survive’ in our colourful world of ever-continuous change and contingency.
There are no straight lines or angles in this dreamspace, its shape is unclear and its structure haphazard, the result of a slow process of soul sedimentation, bombardment by kosmische radiation and garage-punk asteroids.
Over its lonely mesas roam and swirl shadow trovadours strange and beautiful like Bradbury’s Martians. Oblivious to us they glide down the twisted canyons in gossamer wings, enigmatic pilgrims caught in a strange loop, humming a song that Gary War captures with primitive electronics. We will never understand them, and that’s why we do.