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Linear Sorcery

Published in 'Fieldnotes and Sketchbooks' by Wendy Gunn (ed.) (Peter Lang, 2009)


Lines are not things running between two points; points are where several lines intersect. Earlier drawings were an attempt to find correspondences between sound waves and land waves; diagrammatic representations of lines of flight. I was seeking archetypal forms in the landscape; symbolic representations of a complex of ideas that thrived on a kind of sideways glance; or even a capture of the non-visual forces informing our experience of mythopoeic landscape - in this instance, the northwest Highlands of Scotland. I avoided the crossed line with vehemence: contours and tangents thrived. Points are nothing but inflections of lines – it is not beginnings and ends that count, but middles; twists in the path. Something could emerge at any point like a whirlwind twisting down a rocky path; yet this thing exists within certain pre-determined parameters that limit the form produced: wings, thorns, horns, strata, contours, twists, plaits, peaks, valleys, fluids, lichens, mosses, clouds, rocks and so on; but never nets or branches…I found that a limited group of forms developed that I always ended up attaining: winged/ cruciform; standing forms with clouds/ hair/fire streaming off to one side; vast massy conglomerates with a definite outline…These prime forms appeal to the archetypal forms found in the folded archetypal landscapes of the poems of Ossian - bardic templates; or the figure of Danu shining outspread. The sonic aspect of this drawing was still paramount: sound-filled spaces would allow such archetypes to arise.


‘Music has always sent out lines of flight, like so many “transformational multiplicities”, even overturning the very coded that structure or arborify it; that is why musical form, right down to its ruptures and proliferations, is comparable to a weed, a rhizome’.[1]


Working with sound, I similarly engaged in a capture of non-visual forces. Sound becomes the form, which has developed a strange relationship with matter. The forces at play here are essentially non-visible; vibrations and oscillations. Similarly, with digital material; sonic form exists replete with the oscillations of crystals in the microcosmic landscape of the microprocessor. Sampling actually captures forces; tethering sounds and hauling them into new locked rooms; dissecting and rearranging them. The secondary capture is that of ‘nonvisible forces’ through cumulative presentation, thus by building the sonic sonorous within a specific duration.


The drawings all relate to the concept of the nemeton as articulated in my piece for the Fieldnotes and Sketchbooks exhibition – reflecting upon relationships between landscape and the symbolic imagination; between sacred sites and mythopoeic vision. I have attempted to maintain a loose iconographic narrative throughout that reveals key thematic clusterings within this body of research.



Sound waves break on black lines anchored by words. To open a field where image, sound and text operate as parallelisms; homogenous yet mutually exclusive.  Sampling and subversion through re-appropriation are key strategies, whether with sounds, images or texts.  Drawings, which are visualisations of a perceived sonorous landscape (soundwave/landwave) relate to myth and visionary experience.  This is paralleled with my sound-based work, both as producer and DJ, where I try to construct a sonic environment that facilitates such experience - numinous; ecstatic - within a diverse range of contexts from dance clubs to gallery spaces.


Germinating from a method of non-hierarchical, sonorous[2] landscape interventions, these experiments in the representation of imaginary mythic and pataphysical landscapes represent the rhizomatic twistings, stretchings and transgressing of metalingual borderlines that are manifest at nemeta[3].  With Nemeton[4], the non-textual elements are not mere supplements to a text; they constitute, rather, a continuously interweaving simultaneous dynamic that both precedes and follows the planar movements of a text; enfolding each other as they unfold.


Experimental visualizations and automatic drawing continually augment drawings, notes, structures, observations and speculations. Piles of books become strata.  From the proceedings of these s/p/l/ace-centred graphic events imaginary landscapes are excavated by infernal methods, which thrive on inters/p/l/acings between planes of place and consciousness - becoming  nemetonic.  This type of montage becomes an essential and necessarily rhizomatic technique: lines are not things that run between two points; points are where several lines intersect.


“That is how we sorcerers operate.  Not following a logical order, but following alogical consistencies or compatibilities.  The reason is simple.  It is because no one, not even God, can         say in advance whether two borderlines will string together… No one can say where the line of flight will pass...Is it a new borderline?...Is it a way out? Is it a pact with the Devil?... Make a rhizome...”[5]






[1] Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix  A Thousand Plateaus (Athlone, 1998) p.134.

[2]See Shaw, Norman  Highland Landscape Aesthetics - Ossianic Sonority and the Sonics of the Unpresentable  PhD thesis, University of Dundee, 2003.

[3]A nemeton is a sacred site such as a holy wood, fairy hill, stone circle or crossroads - liminal places of interdimensionality and interdisciplinarity - where several lines intersect.

[4]Paper produced for Creativity and Practice Research Group, 2005; text, image and sound. 

[5]Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix  A Thousand Plateaus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Athlone, 1988) pp.250-251

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