the IN breath
that at one time was called a god
precarious, the fields and crops
the surrogate boy-king who died
the first variation of the melody
now the immortals are taking artificial
immortality, not yet decided,
conclusion: you are immortal
religious incarnations misdeeds; reasoning before
rupture of everything
trickle of water on a volcano
fragments, the real world
unorganized products of eccentrics
growing birds legs….and wings
living things revealed a constant
unexceptional exceptions, virtue of originality
regarded as a puzzle
This work is a series of 16 enlarged Kirlian photographs of books, or of pages from books. A Kirlian photograph is a high voltage contact print which literally requires subjecting your chosen object to a series of high voltage blasts. The result, once the process is complete, is essentially an aura of the electrocuted object, in this case, books. Kirlian photography is, as Ted Hiebert points out, the violent act of capturing an image of energy.
The question of course becomes what energy? The book’s energy or the energy of residual human touch? The energy, or power, of the author, or the words themselves? Perhaps instead the lasting impression of a young reader’s earnest quest for knowledge. Kirlian photography as a means to detect the secret inner energy of objects has been scientifically disproved, but science is as science does, and the seductive bibliography of writings Ted Hiebert electrocuted for the sake of Aurora Textualis most certainly elicits a beautiful, dreamy, otherworld response. The titles range from Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves, to Leonard Orr’s Breaking the Death Habit: The Science of Everlasting Life, to Thelma Moss’ The Probability of the Impossible: Scientific Discoveries and Explorations in the Psychic World. Rather delectable, don’t you think?
Afterall, who hasn’t spent some part of their lives poring over ghost stories and fascinating accounts of death and rebirth and unknown energies and psychic power? If these enduring ideas and suspicions of ideas cannot be proved by modern science then are they to be dismissed? Are they nothing more than superstition or religion or some other unpleasantness dragged along from the Dark Ages? Perhaps, but consider this, it is the words, still readable despite the effects of electrocution, that give this show it’s most poignant and unsettling layer of meaning. According to Brian Grison’s review for Focus magazine, these written works are Hiebert’s favourite books, presumably gathered and read over the course of several years. And yet there is an interesting connectivity between the visible phrases and words that have been left to us. Put together, as illustrated at the beginning of this essay, they ring like truth.
Look at us! Here we are in an era marked by hubris. We, the children of science and enlightened thinking, with our crops threatening to fail, our religions increasingly in shambles, the earth and her creatures under threat of climate change, and the creation of babies more and more a scientific marvel, rather than a natural law. Isn’t that the truth?
Could the artist have know that the words and phrases that inspired this intrepration would survive high voltage photography? Is Aurora Textualis a message from the beyond, from the past? Is it a prophecy finally come to light? Or has Ted Hiebert manufactured this experiment for the sake of poetic lament?
Only you can decide.
Aurora Textualis is showing at Deluge Gallery until April 4th.