TERRITORIES AND AMBULATORY STAGNATIONS / FROM THE INTROSPECTIVE LABORATORY
One: We’re going to have to talk, Another. I have some doubts...
Another: Well now, let’s go to the greenhouse of the undulatory mirrors and the place that smells of roses. I feel more at home there. Oh,... this constant sensation of feeling neuronal mounds! I don’t even know what makes me feel better, whether diving in the snow, whether waking up in the swamp or in an enormous heap of moss, with memorial smoke and condensed air.
One: Sounds good. Let’s go to the greenhouse of the lady of the roses. Greenhouse, greenhouse, rose, rose. Why are you groping so much, Another?
Another: Because I think that I am three Anothers: one that walks, another that observes the one that is walking, and another that is constantly commenting on everything in a language that not even I understand. From time to time, I see a void and then I think more clearly.
One: But that doesn’t change our situation. Have you noticed that we’re hanging here: where the sky normally is, is now the earth, everything is upside down? Are we coming down?
Another: It’s true! We may have crossed the Earth. Oh, oh, I have to ask you a question: is this precipice a gigantic hole?
One: Looking at it closely,... An infinite pit that continues on the other side, afterwards it doesn’t seem so far. Impossible –
Another: Impossible – I repeat to feel sure. Are we flying? What does the barometer say?
One (ignores the question and speaks inwardly, dictating to herself what she says aloud. She writes the words on her belly with a blue ballpoint pen): Serotonin, produce yourself. Influence me. Exert influence on my brain activity and direct my perception, my feelings and my power of understanding. Vasopressin, modulate me. Give me elocution and vigour when communicating and guide my social connections.
Enough. It’s run out. Another, wouldn’t it console you to be able to be seen as a simple particle with one single specificity?
Another: Not really. And what about my anti-particles? They have manipulated my smallest elements. My lenses don’t get scratched anymore, my kitchen’s always shiny and the sun doesn’t burn my skin any more. I wake up in the morning with the nanos in my cells and my brain keeping me company. Since they discovered the nanometre, the world has ceased to be continuous…
One interrupts: Concentrate! The sky is lying somewhere down below and it seems to be fairly wrinkled. We can slowly grow used to having our head pointing downwards. I just can’t get used to your reasoning being so slow.
Another: I’m sorry. I’m having difficulty getting myself organised. Leash. Hook. Mushroom. Snail. Moss…
One: I miss the undulating view of things. Did we get lost on the way? I haven’t asked you my question yet.
Another: Feel free! I’ve just got back from the other side of the pit and I’ve changed my perspective. There the mushrooms blend together even more with the moss. I prefer to cast a hook to see what happens in the dark.
One: No, no, rose – I prefer rose. Mr Moss and Mrs Rose.
Another: Here we are, heading for our greenhouse. I can see myself, we’re here. I see myself lying down, dreaming. I see myself dreaming that I’m lying down dreaming. And I’m dreaming that I’m lying next to a rose-coloured smell. And the scent reminds me that we must go back. Go back and continue on our way to the mirrors of the greenhouse so that we can join up with the ideas. Oh,... this aroma! Can’t you smell it? I can see myself awake, knowing that I haven’t even woken up yet. No – now we’ll decide how to continue.
One: I’ll leave the hook hanging here and then we can go. Another, if you could choose an extra part for your body, which would it be?
Another: Oh, I think I’d want... No, I wouldn’t... I’d want... I wouldn’t want... A mechanical button. An ear. A smile isn’t a body part. Memory. A One, double, is a part, though. One on top. Another below. An intelligent robotic prosthesis. A spot. A hole. Yes, a hole. A crane with wings. No weights. A brain drill. A walking stick. A nothing for nothing. But what for?
One: What for? That’s up to you...
Another: Oh, it looks as though we’ve been turned around again with the sky above us. Or to the side. Is green hollow here?
One: It may be blue on the inside, but I prefer to continue without walking. We’re lucky – there are travellators and escalators leading there. Thinking doesn’t seem to be difficult. Concentration... and when we get to the greenhouse, it’ll be even easier. It doesn’t make sense for us to have moved away. Can you follow me?
Another: Hang on a second. I’m going to have an antenna. It’ll be a quick implant. And it won’t hurt at all. The advantages of being Another. What I mustn’t do is trip over it. Oh,... it feels so good. Since we’re travelling by escalator, it’s comforting for me to have this rod rubbing against my skin.
One: And what about your cognitive power?
Another: In the snow. In the snow. The red balloon is landing. It has stained the snow with roses...
One interrupts: Are you confusing the rod of the antenna with the thorn of a rose?
Another: You’re being silly.
One: You’re the one who’s not seeing things properly around you.
Another: No, I’m a realist.
O: From time to time…
A: What do you mean from time to time? But dig deeper.
O: I think we’re getting close to our greenhouse again. Do you recognise the path?
A: Those are our footsteps. We have to erase them because we’re not absent any more. We’ve returned. Traces. Oh,… I want to get lost in the traces.
O: What are we going to do to the rose-coloured mirrors with nasal traces?
A: It looks to me as if they’ve changed the path of the travellator. We’re wasting time.
O: Why do you follow me everywhere? I’m not used to it. I’m enough for myself. One plus Another equals a lot.
A: That’s exactly the idea. A hole can appear anywhere. Let me in.
O: Trip up. Without any method. Hesitate. Do you think the walls of our mind are lined with fabric or paper?
A: A light kind of paper. Transparent. Sticky. What excesses you lead me to, why don’t you warn me? I’m slow. Even my reflection in the mirrors takes time to compose itself. My hunchbacked wall must be made of frozen water. Do you think I’m turning into an igloo?
O: An igloo in the greenhouse. What did you expect? That’s why the mirrors took so long to react to your presence. The smell is intense, have you caught a cold, Another?
A: No, no, I’m guiding my sense of smell with my antenna. Without the antenna it would be fins…
O: And without fins?
A: Well, without fins I think of the snail. The snail’s slime.
O: So, do you think that the wall of your brain may be lined with snail slime?
O: What a fright…
A: I was trampling on you!
O: Snail slime trampling on Another. Thwarted scatology.
A: We haven’t time to analyse vacillating and fanciful situations, since it was only a moment ago that we formed a vague idea of their existence.
O: I agree. We’re doubly or more-mindedly busy. Perhaps we should cut the moss now?
A: Or perhaps the programme of synaptic connections will let itself be neutralised.
O (pouts, looks inwards and then focuses on Another): What I had suggested to you that we should do seems to have got lost somewhere in the depths of my mind. A piece of thought collided with a piece of anti-thought. A reciprocal exodus in a penetrating flash of forgetfulness, followed by a lead weight. Sorry, a stifled inter-atom. So, shall we take a short cut in our search for our perceptive constancies?
A: Worm holes or a quantum tunnel, thanks to Mr Moss and Mrs Rose. It smells mouldy.
O: Sit down. Don’t think. Forget about holes and mould. Turn off the connectionist approach. Do you want to go home?
A: Don’t you feel at home? Don’t you understand? We have excellent hosts in a suspended greenhouse. Oh,.. this mouldy smell reminds me of my stamps. You know, I collect stamps. Or rather, I file stamps away. They’ve all passed over my tongue. They’ve all tickled the hairs of my nose. I know the sound of each of them. Their bite. Their taste. Their journeys. I have become the envelope of my stamps, the sealing snail. And the snail is delighted with moss and roses. And you ask me if I want to go home? We’ve both been accepted here as life members.
O: Or even better, let’s not talk about the subject any more. May I know if you’re capable of being with yourself?
A: I live from relative occupations. I’m a target for a seductive influence. I absorb ambulatory anti-particles. I smell synaptic plasticity.
O: On the subject of plasticity: it seems that the words I wrote in ballpoint work after all. My navel feels like it’s supported. How about a picnic? A round table in the moss with crumbs on the wallpaper, instead of a tablecloth? How about our changing direction? Mrs Rose will ask the questions. And the stamps will answer. Melt into me and we’ll wait for it to rain. Do you agree?
A: I think I also have some questions to ask about your cognitive moments and our lost conditions...
O:... And why are you walking around in a dressing gown, Another?
A: Like this I feel more temporary. When I see myself in the mirrors around us, time stands still, while the reflected image continues to grow. Thorns on the ears. Hairs on the brain. Tubes instead of ankles. Eyelids turned inside out towards the eyeball. Moments frozen in whipped cream. Now we’re on this subject, I really feel like eating a gigantic scoop of ice cream. Igloo genes.
O: Do your normally list your perception and break it down into categories?
A: No, no. Impossible. Do balloons conserve moments? (Her face slowly fills with a smile.) Certificates of authenticity. (Looks at her slippers.) This gravitation tires me out.
O: It seems to me that the snails and the puddles have changed places. Just to annoy you, can I tell you something?
A: I’m all ears.
O: The molluscs are climbing up your legs. They aren’t going to change your ideas now, are they?
A: I awake from my desert nights transformed, with greater or lesser numbers of invading snails. I have rough skin. Oh,… I feel like going to sleep. I need something absolute. Not puddles, they’re inconstant.
O: Are you like this because your antenna has grown softer in the water, Another?
A: With the puddles, perhaps. Or with the weight of memorial sleep...
O: And what if we sprout mushrooms?
(Note: The work of Susanne S.D. Themlitz is usually placed in its very own and particular imaginary, with a marvellous, fictional universe, which is difficult to catalogue and strangely close to reality. “O Estado do Sono” (The State of Sleep), “Extroversão” (Extroversion), “Metamorfopsia Dois Mil e Cinco” (Metamorphopsia Two Thousand and Five) are some of her most recent solo exhibitions in Portugal. The visual artist who also writes and frequently manipulates texts, thereby broadening the reading of her work, replaced an interview with the following self-interview, as a complement to the previously unseen photographic work that she presented at BES Photo 2006.)