Past/Future Round Up
On the surface of the dusk-lit water, a dark opalescent dome begins to crown just above the waterline. Slowly it emerges, organic in shape with a slick mirrored half that reflects the ripples that are pushed aside by its emergence. It is hard to tell where the water ends and the unidentified floating object begins. If you didn’t know what it was you might think it was alive, which in a way it was. But this was no creature, it was a vessel; the only one designed to withstand the immense pressures of the deep abyssal planes of the mediterranean sea. For its soft body allowed it to regulate its internal pressure to its surroundings. Across its surface you could see pores, dimpled much like skin, which allowed gases to be exchanged between the membrane of the ship with the surrounding sea water. The inside and the outside lived in close conversation, a contested boundary that made life inside the vessel an experience that straddled life above and below water.
Next to the organic grotesque looking vessel, the geometry of the steel pontoon was striking. It jutted out into the water with an unbroken linearity that cut through the fluidity of its aqueous surrounding abruptly. Atop this pontoon stood seven figures, the outline of their bodies shadow-like in the hazy lilac light of the incoming night. The vessel, still half sunken in the oil-slick water, opens a mouth-like orifice towards them, emitting an orange glow that illuminates the figures from infront as it widens. The group, now illuminated starkly against the sombre eveningscape, step one by one into the ship.
In our opening session of the new year, we introduced our freshly-designed Gather space - our deepsea laboratory - to new collaborators of the Writing Lab. We start the session with an improv storytelling exercise, going around the “room”, creating speculative histories and micro stories about each object in the space.
Now our duck companions helm the vessel from their perch in the captain's pond, the watery control panel of this deepsea lab, writing their own manifestos, speculating on the lives of their fellow non-duck species. The workings of this ship depend on this intimate symbiosis between human and duck life.
Fuelled by the collective energy of our storytelling, the various components of the ship begin to fire up as the future/past are breathed into them. Enough energy is amassed from the power converter to open the portal to a newly discovered location in space time and find ourselves in a dark, timeless place. Here we can contemplate other modes of timekeeping - non-human scales, non-linearity.
We guide ourselves through a series of exercises that imagine time on various non-human scales from rock time, to fire time, to swan time. From here, we experiment with modes of manipulating time perception by layering our voices and altering the pace and volume of our reading aloud to each other. The many universes we inhabit begin to leak into each other through this performative reading exercise. The technology through which we weave this intimate web becomes yet another layer of temporality, adding glitches and stutters that break up the linearity of our text.
This exercise aimed at transporting us to the leaky membrane between future/past, seeking to occupy the blurry distortion that lives here.
What we found is that in encountering each other's stacked realities, a portal to a new world began to open. Here, time thickened with each other's presence as we are suspended in the constantly transforming present moment of a queer temporality.
Join us for the next session on the theme of ‘here/there’ where we will explore the idea of portals more deeply.
13 February, 2023