Mira Calix ˇ
‘Daydreaming At Night’
Memory is all we are. Sparks in a circuitry. Miniature tableaux zip around the neurals like pointillist dabs of light, a handful of gems. Where do they go? Tattered reels of film flutter in darkness. Grainy figures on repeat, flashes of synaptics. A biro scrawl on the reverse of a photo. I know I was there; the sense of ‘now-ness’ burns like a fuse. Chronology melts away; labyrinths of compressed decades uncoil.
Conjuring; calling; the act is valedictory. The distance between childhood and now lengthening steadily. The image in the polaroid won’t hold still; degrades a little more each Spring. A figure recedes backwards into the frame, one step at a time, getting dimmer. Finally, it waves goodbye.
Phantasmagoria of landscape and biography. Did you feel, as each year passed, the imprint of environment modelling you, incrementally? Reciprocal telekinesis; the inhabitant is permeated, re-formed. A language emerges. It was forged in you, unseen.
The vision of a childhood bedroom endures; burnished by the orange glow of a streetlamp, smudging through a window wet with condensation. At night the trains would rumble past the houses, causing the fringes of my lampshade to tremble. I’d lean close to the wall and whisper into the bricks and mortar - ‘’remember me’.
A storehouse of ripening Summers, heavy with the scent of rhododendrons, nettles, dandelions. Repetitions of backyards contain the small moments of our living. Laughter and screams dart up into the sky. Overhanging apples, railway blackberries, allotment rhubarb; acidic, dirty morsels we’d steal. Tangled hair, scabbed knees. VHS flicker of Saturday cartoons. Dirty fizzle of raggedy animation forges an aesthetic for life. Pavements, avenues and fields remember you long after you grow up and are gone.
Diaries of sound; multiple, like a liquid painting, shapeshifting at the attentive ear. I have spent hundreds of hours painting sound-worlds that bear the imprint of my environment, in a compulsive synaesthesia. Each of us contains our own sublime, the ongoing reverie. Every atom precious, not to be wasted. Motes lodge in the grain, awaiting re-substantiation. If I will this endlessness I can make anything happen; inventor, intentionally delusional.
Walk, wander. New signs emerge from the erasing landscape, the territories transmute. A private skill, a resource - its a way to un-fix the meaning, free the story. What did you miss the first time? Repetition uncovers a grainy matrix of possibles. Each rotation releases another phantom; they slough off like petals. Oblique movements; superstitious returns. Magnetised to certain territories, recognising belonging, abandonment. Stand with the sun behind you: your shadow casts onto the landscape like scattered runes. Leylines and messages become just visible behind the surface.
Discolouration at the edges, intimations of fear. Impressions creep in at the edges. An odd sensation troubles the stomach. Unidentifiable buildings at dusk trigger an incomplete memory. April; the fourth month of frost on the radiator. Did the functional concrete, once a retreat, become a place of danger? compress you like a submarine with its pared, breezeblock rooms, canal water hanging in the air? Photocopied faces disintegrate.
Channelling the residues, prowling for traces. Shy incantations. Possessed cement, the sleeping thoughts of mesh fences. Broken tiles, unruly weeds. The seance shows a different scene each time. A childhood rope-swing hangs invitingly once again. A row of long-gone terraced houses is glimpsed in a rain-lashed puddle. Coloured patches of laundry sway in slo-mo. A crackle of leaf-litter scuds across a disused games court. Tower, motorway, reservoir, field, railway; I have attended these totems, awaited their transmissions. Just audible, something spiralling down a long damp corridor, like an aria. Vagrant, feral. All these threshold places hover on the edge of disappearance. Former echoes trapped deep in the soil wait to be released. Revenant voices return to us; remembered landscapes re-animate.
I keep going back; turning it over. The light makes it look different every time. Temperatures change; the air now charged with thunder. A rusted fence hangs ajar. Something stirs behind a dirty pane. It once seemed radiant and unfixable. Caught behind glass, blurred with tears, I can’t tell where I am. Years slip through the fingers like sand. But the excavations go on; I follow the seam of silver riven into the rock; like a palm-reading. Where will it lead?
There is something out there: it is us, exiled to an invisible realm - our residues, our ghosts. They can be summoned, collected, curated, pulled out of the wall into noise and colour, for a few hours once more, to be no longer abandoned, no longer falling and turning in darkness. Portal, consolation, invocation: choose your function. Psyche mirror? Await their visitations. They will accompany you; modulate instinctively across time, landscapes, death; they will be your best friend, will hear your loneliness, your dreams. They will outlive you.
Our best hope; the disordered montage of all our lives, wrapped inside the seance, needs only the lightest of touches to be freed; and all our rich detail, coded into an illuminated manuscript will embellish the blank spaces like foliage accelerating; all our panoramas will unspool in flurries of synesthesia, to rush up into vivid being like a geyser, retrieved from silence and time; revived to gleam once more in a glittering continuity that knows no end.
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