December 11th, 2010

S.C. Hickman

The Art of the Real

"Among the ruined temples there,
   Stupendous columns, and wild images
   Of more than man, where marble daemons watch
   The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men
   Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around..."
        - Alastor, Percy Bysshe Shelley

What is it about ancient and modern ruins that awakens within us the sense of an uncanny Real? One can wander the fractured landscapes of our world and realize that it is more like visiting an alien and derelict universe, where fallen factories, decaying shopping malls, overgrown bunkers and redundant mining towns litter the pale city scape like the ghostly demarcations of some corrupted species bent of total annihilation: - where cities filled with debris and rusted assemblages form the nucleus of a monstrous thought in which humans have given way to the blight of a fetid nightmare.

What we are interested in is “places of abjection”—“a no-man’s land too recent, conflicting and repulsive to be shaped as collective memory”. [1] Places that are haunted by a present past too grim or uncanny to be embraced. [2] Graffiti jungles that throb and pulse within the concrete skins of a forgotten city where the colorful life that once inhabited them has been given over to the scrofulous tumors of some lost race of pygmies or giants; roam into and around these cities of oblivion invoking the names of foreign gods, trip over the stones of a blasted king who once rode these asphalt cesspools in a metal stream of liquid fire. Watch the walls mutate in time to the mysterious dance of a terrible predation; read the secret messages that scar the twisted and rotted scapes, decipher their alien and incomensurable scrawls as if they were love notes from some ancient order of being; discover the patterns squirming among the tunnels and corridors of fallen subways and terminals, see what is  crawling out of the murky depths like some mad alchemists alembic full of primordial materials: - with nightmare brews and pungent odors that overpower our waking minds then quickly vanish back into the impenetrable black voids of a spectral galaxy.  

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