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‘On ways of disappearing without leaving a trace’

Submitted by on May 15, 2011 – 7:21 pmOne Comment

By Navajo

In the lift I was travelling to the sixth floor. The lift had informed me that I was ‘going up’, just in case I wasn’t able to feel the increase in gravitational pull, something humans are acutely aware of.

The lift door slid open to the habitual ‘bing’. A very tall thin ginger- handle-barred moustached man stood. I smiled, trying to read his face for some sign of what I was meant to do, or if I was in the right place, or if he was about to kill me, but the sign was absent.

The bland face I assumed was part of the experience, not giving anything away, clever, all adding to the tension. Was it meant to be tense? Aaaaah but his lack of reaction put me in a quandary and isn’t that what art is all about? Clever.

Held out hands, I gave him my jacket; having gone there straight from work I was wearing my suit, shirt and tie. Wondering if this was really the correct attire for art. What was he going to do with my jacket? There didn’t seem to be a hanging rail to hang my jacket, I just hoped they, whoever they were, weren’t about to spray it with some type of lacquered paint that turned my jacket stony stiff and put it on display. ‘Jacket’.

A rather beautiful young person, dressed in high length black Dr Martens, laced halfway up and tops flopping about, black pants, black shirt and long black hair to match, put a pair of headphones on me. ‘Follow the instructions’, she said in a heavily-accented sexy voice.

She guided me to two wooden doors that had wired glass panel inserts, by placing her hands on my shoulders and steering me towards the doors. I could see the wide open floor space on the other side of the doors. The space seemed to stretch on for ever.

The bare white floor interspersed by the odd column, windows that extended from floor to ceiling, giving the impression of a sheer drop at the point where the floor stopped and open space began. I could see workers in the office building opposite scurrying about. It wasn’t that late, I had been booked in at 4.40 and I checked my watch and it was now 4.50.

A female voice in my headphones, ‘Open the doors and walk through them’. I did as I was told. In the headphones were the sound of echo-ey footsteps. My footsteps? The echo seemed about right for the open office floor space I was now in. I looked around, I felt wonderful, the whole floor was completely void of anything. Just one great white open space. It gave me a feeling of freedom, of being liberated from the clatter of life, of being unshackled of life itself. I felt peaceful, annulled, serene, angelic.

‘Walk towards the telescope’. I do. ‘You wonder whether your red high heel shoes are suitable, you may need to run, escape, but you couldn’t resist them, they complement your dress’. So the character is a woman, is she in danger? In hiding? ‘Look into the telescope and point it down to Canal Street, she is there drinking through a straw’.

The telescope moves to focus on a man leaning up against a wall. ‘No, they know I’m here’. The telephone begins to ring, ‘Run to the phone’, sound of footfalls running to the phone. I run to the phone and dial the number, my heart rate has increased, I am feeling nervous, worried and a little frightened.

Putting the receiver down I dash back to the telescope, she’s gone, look up Aytoun Street, there, she is walking away, is this the last time I am going to see her? Is she leaving me for ever? Do they know I am here? Footsteps approaching me from behind. ‘Look into the telescope, don’t look around, keep looking into the telescope,’ the footsteps are getting closer. I’m alone in the building, it is totally deserted. ‘Don’t look behind you’. The footsteps are close; a shiver runs down my spine. Should I look around? Am I supposed to look around? Is that the point? I am very scared. The footsteps stop.

‘Walk back diagonally across the space’. I now seem to be a male character; I’m still a bit breathless. Heartbeat slowly returning to normal. ‘Go back out through the doors’.

As I walk across the office floor, I’m told that this experience has changed me, I’m not sure about that. ‘Press the button for the lift,’ is it ending now? Or am I going to be taken on to another part of the building? I wish it would carry on. ‘Take off your headphones and put them on the table’. It is ending, even I can work that out, I mean without the headphones I can’t hear the instructions. It has ended.

I stand before the lift, ginger moustache man before me, holding out my jacket. Yes, it’s not been turned into an art installation, thank god for that. I can’t afford a new jacket. I’m not sure what to say, so I say some rather inadequate inane pleasantries and jump into the lift.

It has changed me.

An art experience by ‘Me and the machine’ at Future Everything, Manchester 2011.


One Comment »

  • Elsie says:

    Though this particular part of Future Everything has now ended, you can still go and talk to a tree (it responds in lighting effects), smell a poem, or get your home involved in an Arcade Fire video by inputting your postcode. Between 12 and 8pm till 22 May. Four Piccadilly Place. That funny bit near Mike Duff’s poem on the glass panels near the overbridge by the station. It’s good.

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