A ROOM, SOMEWHERE
I seethe. I shiver. a dull, blue light coats my back in disconsolate paint. a room that defies scale; that defiles it.
grinning, mawkishly. He has a shit-eating face, with eyes unblinking. made long into a gigantic tower. and the body - his - faced away from whatever bright thing happens in the room to his right, or through the open hole of a window behind him . Darkness, or a childish sky blue .
a moment frozen in time. a body, emptied of desire, of feeling toward?
there is no arriving into this room, just as there is no departure from it.
it is an image, superimposed upon an image which - in its turn - has another source entirely. this - the last and final link in the chain - is SpongeBob, made weird by height . a stick of butter with a wound for a face , copy-pasted over the skin of the album artwork of Oneohtrix Point Never’s 2013 release, R PLUS SEVEN.
Robert Beatty’s artwork for R PLUS SEVEN, the 2013 album by electronic producer OPN, is - in his own words - “a still from the Georges Schwizgebel animation "Le ravissement de Frank N. Stein", recreated with permission from the artist.” we chase from point to point, and go - plungingly - deeper. hold with me.
i am reminded - lapsed, smirking - of Comaroff and Ker Shing’s Horror in Architecture, and their explication of the sticky distaste of homunculism, of gigantism;
“We live in an era in which market forces push familiar objects towards extremes of dimension . . . buildings, vehicles, meals, and their packaging.”
These economies of scale push toward a monstrosity of enlargement; the structural steroid, the too-stacked beefcake. What we arrive at - in this dark and shady place, this unctious cartography - is the total break with known space and our emergence within-side-of a preposterous arena: space that is never encountered, albeit always possible . a room such as this .
a room - greyed, obstinate walls; without ceiling, whose volume extends - is suspended in the possibility - upwards, forever. this might not be a room; but the bottom of a pit , the empty plane of an oubliette.
that 1982 animation referred to by Beatty translates - rather directly - to the “ravishing of Frank N. Stein.” as below.
the animation - eerie, dulcet, capricious - leads us through a series of rooms, each of which fizz and boil at the very edge of focus and knowing. we feel we have entered an art gallery, a super-mall, or a prison. what happens is the movement against-from; starting in a place of absurd surrealism and - slowly, gradually - transitioning into a place of increasingly focused realism. Frank Stein emerges into the animation, from these oblique and troubling rooms; monstrous rooms, whose proportions skim and slunk, being both like and un-like places we know and can comprehend. again, the arrival of the monstrous giant; a building so large that it fails the reality check we make against it. The casino i entered on Potsdamer Platz, whose scale was so obnoxiously large - and off-kilter - and so at odds with its comparatively tiny entrance, that my head swam. the slot machines grasped only inches, it seemed, up the tacky red walls.
THE RETURN TO REALISM
The Ravishing of Frank N. Stein is the gradual construction of an increasingly realist image; a reversal of surrealism’s traditional play-book, in which the known is stranged and made other; dragged from sense and into senselessness. this is put down to the “creating of life and the emergence of a feeling of love.”
the animation - the ravissement as an architecture of loving flows - was, in 2013, the theme taken up by John Beatty when commissioned to create the artwork for R PLUS SEVEN. a pillow was placed - hushingly - over the mouth of the molten love of that 1982 animation, and from it was extracted a singular raum; one that, with the wind of changed knocked out of it, assumes the qualities of an oubliette; and becomes a sad and gruelling prison in its place. No, you’re shivering.
exactly. that Beatty’s frozen moment - his anchored pause within the ravissement - denies the going-against-ness of Schwizgebel’s animation; its working out of love . taken alone, and depressed of its flow , its melting from one place to another ,we feel - now - impossibly alone . The scene itself is not surreal for its objection; because the materials of the room are known, and not overtly stranged . No. it is the scale, and the purposelessness of this space, which makes us uneasy; brings sweat into the palm . a box; a wall; a window; a light. all of these things are deeply regular. it is only their scale, and the dud two-dimensionality of their texture and colour which evokes first insanity - and then horror . the room - roofless, ceilingless, and scarily evocative of the made-horrendous spaces beyond itself - that make it necessarily disgusting .
this is the oubliette; a hole into which things are thrown and forgotten about.
some clicking around. a coffee, turns cold. for some time NTS radio has been playing loose sounds, though turned mostly toward silence. i come, eventually, across Jon Rafman’s video for Still Life - one of the promotional tracks on R PLUS SEVEN.
I watch, close my eyes, blow imaginary heat from that lukewarm coffee. It is a thing which collects, in the words of its reviewer, “bizarre and disturbing low-grade internet footage—images of decrepit computer systems, strange anime art and characters posing for webcams, a few Furries, and more, bookended by clips of a man who looks like he's about to blast his own brains out.”
like he’s about to blast his own brains out .
The reiteration of mucky un-aesthetic artefacts begins an insipid play of nostalgia-work; the now-devoid spaces of our early years online, the echoing, grim interfaces we poured over with the fully-fledged promise of having arrived at the future. what happened, instead - what was taking place - was our arrival in a future; fragile, temporary, conditional. The interface of windows 95. the halls of Doom.
the rather coarse, visual artefacts - the faded mess - of Beatty’s raum. the elongated, made-monstrous body of SpongeBob. the ravishing of Frank N. Stein. Each of these things agitates over the other, like the wing of a bird beating against a window - against its own reflection of itself in the window.
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain.
I open my door, and watch how the dull yellow light falls across the floor - the carpet, revealing the immense blackness behind another door beyond it.
in the false azure of the windowpane.
. . .