Mark Leckey: All That Glitters is Gold
Made in Albion.
I. Everything I Am ... Written by Bryson Edward Howe
The year is 1999 and I am forced out of the womb at such a velocity that I haven’t yet stopped moving, propelled forward towards a stop that one day will come.
The year is 4073 and the Earth has decided to cease orbiting the sun. The air gets colder and the world becomes bitter and, one by one, we are engulfed by a never-ending eclipse.
The year is 2019 and I stand under a bridge in northern England, somewhere along the M53, inhabiting the space between formerly discrete dimensions, staring wide-eyed into a past I never knew.
And suddenly I am in 1973 and under the same bridge, and there are p-p-p-pixies and g-g-g-goblins and m-m-m-mark leckey is sitting with a bottle of some magic potion, filming me on his phone and live streaming my slow entropy to millions across the time-stream.
I reach out to him, but he disappears. And I follow him across history, surging into the glorious future, and chasing a perpetually fugitive present
existing somewhere on the ambit between flesh and pixel, where dualism stutters in the unstable, porous boundary between the ritual theatre of collectivism and a retreat into separate, digital spheres. Acosmism is only a few clicks away, and immanence has been replaced by doomscrolling. Following mainstream news stories into hyperlinked labyrinths of conspiracy as if the truth was really out there, the perverted cult of individuality is made impotent against a gnashing desire to melt into dance, music, and the flow of images (the debris of an anthropological matrix turned haunted house). I placed my faith into the image, shadows cast against the sickly orange of sodium streetlights, appearing as profane illuminations from an acid horizon, relics mined deep from within the internet's own internal archive of cursed images, the Proustian madeleines of the .com generation. But the light of day is the space of thought.
"When the light goes, and I stare out into the trees, there’s always pairs of eyes out there in the dark, watching..."
...where there is nothing which an obsession to lay bare the reverse side of thought does not consume. It is through unproductive necessities (dancing, drunkenness, luxury, mourning, cults, aesthetics, games, war, monuments, debauchery) that we are shaken loose and which open us to the possibility of rapport with a radical otherness: the sacred. There is nothing concrete about Leckey's bridges, rites of passage that sing Gregorian chants of baroque sunbursts and diseased eyeballs. Leckey's bodysong makes a pattern of time's passing, remixing memory into a threshold between past and present, fact and fiction, inside and outside, the familiar and unfamiliar, tangling them all within the rigid tulle of something at once sacrificial and erotic (remember being fourteen?). Reliving your childhood must come at a price: loitering in the underpasses of anamnesis, the digital world has made what was once fluid and impermanent a fixture of your identity. Blacked-out moments no longer darken like the night, but are now the diurnal tortures of your own fevered amusement where the past continually loops into the present. What is in the depths of your camera roll? Some funny, forgotten video from a drunken night out? Or the key to transcendence? Maybe, if you're lucky, they're one and the same.
II. Flashing Lights ... Written by Caleb Carter
YouTube's protective nimbus, its camera lucida's bloodoath to the strata shriek of elder ponies and drunkards seems, when considering the totality of Leckey's craft, less like the appropriation of a neo-paganist aesthetic and more comfortably belonging to a wide cosmogony of light, thresholds and the deep that their doors heel. It is a system orphic in essence (that our realm merely maps the route to infinite black waters), but the sheer size of the invitation to his mediae bacchanal verges, in practice, on the massively suicidal: the cataclysmic. Leckey ravenously immolates the world as all projections - imaginative or otherwise - are harnessed into a kabbalah of transgression; collected seeds of time that permanently shape its participants into conduits for novel possession. Transportation, as depicted above, or enlightenment, as in Carry Me Into the Wilderness, is always both painful and ecstatic. For the sun's rays a sacrifice of equal mass must be proffered. As personal experiences of breakage, in which all that is considered to be attached is barbarically severed from the seat of the self, always inevitably results in base catharsis, when something or someone is irrevocably altered, the ancient - therefore, objectless; therefore, true - voice is enabled to speak through the fissures, however briefly. In these states whose intermittent (suspended, lingering) intensity is close to blankness, identifiers cease, the granular rolls into luminated totality and harmony is most easily granted. Some artefacts are more powerful than others by way of their enchanted inventiveness or destructive capability, like a Cardiff University student diving through the gossamer passing place of a bus shelter or a cartoon javelining the aether, and only exponentially electrify when surjectively combined in the crucible of art. But, fortunately for Leckey, anything temporally linear and illuminated that must emerge from stasis to activity is a potential transgressive device. The human world is a leptic chapel beneath which one remains
and its overwhelming seizure is rooted in the transistor (that art can be used in place of). When the device is switched ON, a portal into a new reality is illuminated: Snapchat streaks are set ablaze, the doors to communion are ajar, the details of a room (whose colours' radiance is completely reliant on the providence of light) are dialled to their utmost gauge of transmission. Particularly, in video's ritual séance of absence into presence, this can also be necromantic magic or, at the very least, a mystery religion that harbours darkness unreal to our mortal prescriptions. The costs at which this spell is cast vary depending on your disposition towards our current ways of being. Leckey's prayer to consumerism and social media that seems to disregard its schizophrenic grip around its disciples' throats verges on the cabbalistic, certainly the irresponsible, whilst the cavernous depths to his maw of material that is most frequently addled with threnodies of lightning also suggests that we are all, at all points, unwillingly bellowing through the garden of earthly delights. His cannibalism would let it all singe into the red muck beneath the fern: the O! where good ponies go to play.