Samuel Storey

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Post-mortem on Corpus Anorectous

December 2019

There have been many neat happenstances in choosing the word Corpus as part of the name of this work. For one, it is composed of a corpus of written text. A body that acts as a locus of meaning and sentiment delineated through the written word itself. However, it is most uncanny that I decided to call this piece Corpus Anorectous (roughly coming to mean A Body Without Appetite), for the purpose of this particular text is to dissect its now dead corpse. The reason for this examination, is due to that fact that as of this summer, the platform in which it was hosted from, died a death. This was the same platform that net artist Molly Soda used for a large majority of her net-art corpus. The same artist who once in an interview stated that she feared the hypothetical day in which she wakes up to find the online platforms she uses are gone, along with all her work¹. For me, and potentially Soda too, that day came. Although, despite death’s seeming permanency, there may be a chance for the Phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Whilst data can never truly die, only disappear, reappear in the form of a prudent backup and decay over time, for all intents and purposes, Corpus Anorectous’ online iteration is not dead in the absolute sense. Regardless, I thought its demise due to the fall of NewHive was an appropriate moment for me to reflect on this piece, as it has come to mean a great deal for my practice and artistic interests. And in much the same way the Victorians dressed up, posed with and photographed their dead post-mortem, this poor corpse is to be put on display, assayed and dissected.

Corpus Anorectous was an amalgamation of several years worth of exploration, research and ideation. A deeply personal work, it’s greatly informed by my own first-hand experience. Crudely put, the piece is about an innominate character who falls and succumbs to what is an unknown, chronic, and all-consuming illness; becoming stuck in a cursedly burgeoning, chimerical and indescribable mental landscape. All the while desperately attempting to clamber back to some sort of orderly or ordinary reality. Whilst the story and its prose aren’t innately literal, nor explicitly autobiographical, it is indeed a work of auto-fiction — a style and genre of writing partly inspired by the likes of Marcel Proust and Karl Ove Knausgaard, classically and contemporaneously respectively. The boundaries between truth, reality and fiction are blurred. With that said, some vignettes and passages were rendered as they were in reality.

Informed by first-hand experience, Corpus Anorectous explores and remembers lived experiences of trauma, where autobiographical fiction, uncreative writing and stream of consciousness prose collide in an attempt to make sense of private histories, feelings and sensations. Disease is investigated ontologically through its mediatory affective power on the embodied experience within a digitally hyper-mediated world, in an attempt to make their effects clear or visible. Employing a collage-based practice, I made use of the ‘open-source’ digital collective, appropriating found imagery as well as royalty-free and Creative Commons licensed digital models as visual and conceptual stand-ins for the text; as part of the act of remembrance of a time mired by malady.

Ultimately, the work is about a kind of implicit and underlying violence. Tension repressed, that goes nowhere. Violent feelings and sensations that instead of being let loose, fester and cultivate into desperate self-loathing — what Maggie Nelson might call a kind of cruelty:

What interests her is the “full-fledged assault on the barriers between art and life that much 20th-century art worked so hard to perform,” often by enlisting violence and cruelty, simulated or actual, including cruelties inflicted physically on the person of the artist, or affectively on the psyches of the audience.²

Furthermore, Georges Bataille sometimes defined this kind of transgressive violence on an audience or unfortunate soul, as that of a limit experience, where “divine ecstasy and extreme horror”³ are one and the same — indivisible. He additionally states that the coalescing of these two lead to an experience of the sacred⁴. Whilst Corpus Anorectous plays with and makes reference to many Bataillean themes and motifs, most notably that of the eye⁵ and eroticism⁶ (which was simultaneously out of pure luck and managed design), Corpus Anorectous does not deal with the notion of limit experiences in the traditional sense. The extremity of experience in the piece, in my mind, cannot be categorised as that of the divine, nor the sacred. Just sheer terror and existential dread. However, that is not for me, the artist, to say definitively.

However, to further contradict myself, if the limit experience is to be found in Corpus Anorectous, it may be in the sublime absurdity of 21st Century ontology and its many hyperconnected avenues. Whilst in a Bataillean 20th Century, whereby experiences of the extreme come to an end (in this case regarding eroticism and pornography), the ability to constantly connect and interface with our devices and the internet arguably leaves those who are vulnerable or predisposed to the Skinner Box effect to be indefinitely exposed to memetic thoughts, images and media; sentenced to experiences of overstimulation, hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal. To lives of quiet, yet, tumultuous desperation. I argue that this is the limit experience of our time. Something of which I attempted to make clear throughout Corpus Anorectous, whether with conscious intent or not.

Corpus Anorectous is a piece that was composed of multiple, stratified elements.
Stratified, not only in how it is emergently seen by viewers and readers, but also in how the work is accessed. Its myriad of forms allowed for very different readings and experiences, depending on which medium was perused. Yet, simultaneously part of this was for the sake of conveniency and accessibility (as will be explained later).

Installation View

Corpus Anorectous was composed as such:
1.    The core text
2.    An installation of images and objects acting as visual motifs for the writing
3.    A printed edition of the text in newspaper, limited to 150 copies
4.    And a net-art adaption of the text

For reference (and for those who have not viewed it yet), the remade net-art rendition of Corpus Anorectous can be viewed here.

Original Net-art Landing Page

Newspaper Print in Installation Space

I no longer have any physical copies of the printed version, as they all disappeared throughout the course of the show. However, a copy of the PDF can be viewed here.

Front of the printed edition incl. printer’s marks

Conceptualist [de]construction:

This post-mortem will begin by using the intro that was published in the newspaper version as a jumping board to explain/explore some of the piece’s themes/deliberations, as well as the things that informed them:

“I’ve been thinking about disease, trauma, suffering, and their respective value. The notion that when faced with the annihilation or implosion of the body, a space for transformation and love can emerge.”

But what is the reverse of this? What happens then?

The majority of stories we tell ourselves as human beings are redemptive in nature; tales of recovery, vindication or absolution. Anything to allow some sense of resolve, or agency over ourselves. To take control over one’s circumstances, and to grow from them. However, what of the reverse? What of when one finds oneself fumbling and imploding in perpetuity? Unable to redeem themselves from their very experience? Unable to hold on long enough to come back to the surface for air to breathe. This was a story I wanted to test, for better or for worse. For I could have very easily have found myself forever mired, with only one exit to be found.

The paper you hold in your hands acts as a supplement and printed extension of Storey’s Corpus Anorectous. Readers and viewers are encouraged to peruse the text, to make associations with the various images and objects within the installation. Whilst the text is accessible in the installation itself via QR code and read digitally on the Internet when scanned, simulating motifs of screen viewing, this printed supplement acts as a tangible visual stimulus to the stratified nature of the installation.

In hindsight, having two versions of the text to choose between, may have been overmuch, and a factor that drew down from the uniformity of the work as a whole. Yet, for the sake of accessibility I wanted to allow for choice, regardless of the viewer’s/reader’s natural disposition towards forms of reading; be it virtually on a screen, or on the page itself. In hindsight, I believe this proved to be worthwhile. Having two different means to read the text allowed for two, very separate, experiences — a welcome component to the work.

In print, the focus for the most part was put squarely on the words themselves, allowing the text to speak for itself, with a select few inciting images scattered along the way.

The net-art version, in contrast, was overlaid with window screens, tabs, Google searches, images, video, and other miscellaneous digital detritus⁷ — overloading the viewer with tangents and visual associations. In print, the imagery implied throughout the text is implicit, in that for the most part it has to be imagined. The digital incantation, however, is aggressive and in-your-face. Subtlety does not feature. It’s more intimate, with the experience having not been curated for the reader’s benefit.

In hindsight, I realise that the digital edition, due to mere association to the virtual, simulates themes of over-sharing. Of something shared which should, more or less, stay private. Which is interesting considering the influence of the auto-fiction genre. Auto-fiction lies in a confused realm, where truth and fantasy coagulate. A text of this genre is relatable, in that it relates to the everyday and sometimes mundane experience. Although, auto-fiction defies reality by way of telling outright falsities through the act of forgery and embellishment. Misleading the reader by imagining things or events that did not entirely happen in quite the way they did. The work is informed by first-hand experience. But the mediator of these experiences, the subject themselves, is unreliable.

Compelling prose is convincing prose and, oddly enough, what makes contemporary autofiction interesting to readers today is not what makes it convincing. What makes much contemporary autofiction interesting to readers today is actually what prevents it from being convincing. To read a work to relate to its author, to read in order to have one’s views reflected flatteringly back — this is to have one’s dearly held beliefs confirmed, rather than challenged (let alone stripped away); it is to prevent oneself from having a lifelike experience; from being convinced. Only by reading not to relate might a reader experience, and so be convinced by, an autofictional novel.

Gavin Tomson⁸

Sharing on the internet, or over-sharing, acts in much the way in this sense. The act of sharing screenshots of my desktop, along with its (dis)contents, conveys a form of candidness that only one’s desktop, along with its files and search history could disclose. A disquieting openness and discomforting vulnerability that isn’t entirely relatable. Whilst the work is sincerely forthright, its careful design concedes the truth that it is more or less un-relatable, in much the same way a work of auto-fiction is unconvincing. It has been manufactured. More or less?

Now this is a maxim I can get behind.

Informed by first-hand experience, Corpus Anorectous (roughly coming to mean ‘a body without appetite’) explores and remembers lived experiences of trauma, where autobiographical fiction, uncreative writing and stream of consciousness prose collide in an attempt to make sense of private histories, feelings and sensations. Disease is investigated ontologically through its mediatory affective power on the embodied experience within a digitally hyper-mediated world, in an attempt to make their effects clear or visible.

Part of the intent was to devise a pseudo-erotic (yet not so pleasing nor wholesome) narrative around this traumatised character who’s attempting to deal and cope with their pain and confusion. Furthermore, the choosing of the title was to illustrate an irony - for the subject of the text has little appetite for life nor living under their present circumstances. Although, in spite of that, they crave still a warped desire for the titillating and stimulating as antithesis/catharsis to their anhedonic wretchedness.

However, whilst revisiting Corpus Anorectous for this post-mortem, I mistook the artist for his work. I had a drastically different set of optics when reading my own piece after a year and a half. I loathed him and his vague attempts at distancing himself through a manufactured character. He came across as ironic, snarky, pretentious, and full of his own suffering. The feeling was akin to that of finding and perusing through a journal or diary from one’s adolescence. It was embarrassing. Of course, I didn’t see myself in this light at the time of making and writing. When considering Elaine Scarry’s thoughts on the near impossibility of articulating pain or physical suffering, it comes as no surprise the writing resonated somewhat as that of an angsty teenager. Whilst Scarry, for the most part, typified and explored physical pain with regard to politics and power (torture in particular), she hit the nail on the head regardless — phenomenologically, pain and trauma are difficult to comprehend. To make sense of. Let alone express.⁹

Scarry “describes that we might get the idea of the pain that person is going through but we can’t feel the intensity of pain without experiencing it because pain is something which can only be felt and cannot be measured or described.”¹⁰

When one hears about another person’s physical pain, the events happening within the interior of that person’s body may seem to have the remote character of some deep subterranean fact, belonging to an invisible geography that, however portentous, has no reality because it has not yet manifested itself on the visible surface of the earth.¹¹

In short, “to have great pain is to have certainty; to hear that another person has pain is to have doubt.”¹²

Elaine Scarry manages to articulate, seemingly without effort, exactly how I had felt.
As if it were an indisputable, universal truth. As if it were self-evident:

The ceaseless, self-announcing signal of the body in pain, at once so empty and undifferentiated and so full of blaring adversity, contains not only the feeling “my body hurts” but the feeling “my body hurts me”. This part of the pain, like almost all others, is usually invisible to anyone outside the boundaries of the sufferer’s body, though it sometimes becomes visible when a young child or an animal in the first moments of acute distress takes maddening flight, fleeing from its own body as though it were a part of the environment that could be left behind. If self-hatred, self-alienation, and self-betrayal (as well as the hatred of, alienation from, and betrayal of all that is contained in the self — friends, family, ideas, ideology) were translated out of the psychological realm where it has content and is accessible to language into the unspeakable and contentless realm of physical sensation it would be intense pain.¹³

Thematically, this inability to process pain in a healthy and self-assured way was something I loved playing with all throughout Corpus Anorectous. It was a means to ratchet up intensity in the prose, where nerves are almost literally raw, with no escape for its subject (consequently, the reader too). Only a deep, cimmerian and encircling spiral downwards; leading to a threatening and ambiguous (anti-)climactic end.

What a charade, indeed.

Employing a collage based practice, Storey makes use of the ‘open-source’ digital collective. Appropriating found imagery as well as royalty-free and Creative Commons licensed digital models as visual and conceptual stand-ins for the text; as part of the act of remembrance. Remembrance of a time mired by malady. 

The issue around open-sourcing artwork is an interesting one. It plays with the discourse around whether using assets not made by yourself falls under unfair-use or straight-up copying. Whilst this conundrum has been historically typified in fine art through the readymade, found-image or collage, the issue is potentially made even more contentious with regard to the digital. The Internet over the course of this decade has made its case that appropriation of someone else’s work can fall under fair-use as long as it is either drastically reworked and modified; or for the strict purpose of criticism or commentary. This battle has largely played out over YouTube. Whilst YouTube in particular might attempt to curb this, appropriation of images and other digital material is deeply ingrained within the culture of the Internet. The copying and pasting, or remixing of memes, for example, is ubiquitous. Sharing in this way is baked into its identity.

However, whilst sentiment is pretty clear over what constitutes fair-use in art and the Internet (as long as you do not plagiarise, you’re golden. Although sometimes, if you do, you’re a genius¹⁴), Kenneth Goldsmith has been particularly attuned to this issue with respect to writing in 21st Century contemporaneity; stating that “most writing proceeds as if the internet had never happened”¹⁵.

But clearly, the Internet has happened. And the examples Goldsmith explores in Uncreative Writing seem to have either presaged or, having appeared more recently, taken full advantage of the techniques the web enables… According to Goldsmith, conventional literary practices have some catching up to do. Uncreative Writingpresents several examples of ways in which that catching up might be accomplished. Goldsmith attempts to show that sampling, copying, and appropriation have been the norm in other artistic mediums for decades. Taking full advantage of digital remix culture is one way the literary world is following suit.

Amelia Chesley¹⁶

Goldsmith proposes that “remixing, reusing, repurposing, recopying, reframing, repeating, and regurgitating”¹⁷ are worthy pursuits. So this was something that I decided to wholeheartedly embrace as part of this work. Be it subsuming passages read or found on an article, op-ed, blog, song lyrics, medical article, Google search, video, etc… The intent was to simulate the character’s thoughts in a stream of consciousness, as if his consumptions were impressing themselves on the fabric of his reality. The mediation of media on the self has been a long-standing theme I’ve explored. And exploring it in the ways Goldsmith encouraged was a fantastic opportunity. So was open-sourcing images to reflect or reference the text, as it allowed for layers upon layers of appropriation and collage to manifest all throughout.

Whilst Corpus Anorectous dabbles with philosophies, socio-political and cultural notions around pain, trauma and disease, Storey is also engrossed with genres of body and psychological horror, erotic fiction and ero guro (erotic grotesque, a literary and artistic movement originating in Japan that primarily focuses on themes of eroticism, sexual corruption, and decadence) as a means to further probe into and exploit these issues.

George Bataille’s notions of eroticism and his Story of the Eye are clearly obvious influences.

The similarity in eyes as a motif is almost too overt to be comfortable. However, instead of being another case of infringement and misappropriation, the eye as a recurring theme was wholly coincidental. Another happy accident, albeit uncanny circumstance, for my pathological discomfort largely lay with a contentious struggle — a disorder of the eyes. Although, that is not to say that this work was not made in total ignorance of Bataille’s novella. That would be an outright falsity. And to miss the opportunity of referencing it explicitly would have been equally inexcusable.

The influence of Bataille is likewise overtly clear with regard to the eru guro genre. One doesn’t have to look far to recognise that.

Suehiro Maruo, Torture Garden, Giclée print (1990)

While ero guro is believed to have come into existence in the 1930s, it is inspired by much earlier art forms, such as muzan-e (無残絵) from the late Edo and Meiji periods (the mid-1800s). These were woodblock prints depicting excessive violence.¹⁸

Along with the erotic art of shunga, which were also for the most part ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), eru guro nansensu’s origins can be easily delineated.

Katsushika Hokusai, Two Lovers; From The Adonis Plant (Fukujusō), Woodblock print (1815)

Katsushika Hokusai, The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, Woodblock print (1814)

The movement’s defining moment was 1936’s Abe Sada Incident, when a failed geisha-turned-prostitute strangled her lover to death during sex, cut off his genitals, and carried them around in her kimono.¹⁹

A story, which coincidentally, has been adapted multiple times. Although, most infamously in Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976). A film that was either heavily censored or banned in multiple countries due to it’s unsimulated sex and taboo subject-matter.

All of these influences coalesce in some way, shape or form in Corpus Anorectous.  Whilst I was consciously intent on making the erotic and pornographic elements as uncomfortable as I could, anyone reading this might point out that that is very much the explicit resolve of many of these works and genres; to provoke and disturb, as well as to titillate through the perverse. In this sense, it would be foolish to say that I attempted something original.

The character in Corpus Anorectous, however, does not distinguish pleasure from perusing the pornographic. He is a fleshy bag of nerves, deeply affected by an inability to derive pleasure, largely in part to his failure to manage or relieve his pain. So in his lack of pleasure, he searches for gratification through more extreme means, to counteract his hurt. To counteract the ceaseless rape of the senses, by viewing increasingly taboo²⁰ and arguably cruel stimuli (in the Nelsonian sense). But in doing so, he is in fact exacerbating it. Much in the same way one might worsen a wound by continually scratching at it. Not letting it heal.

Moreover, Storey explores this through the blurring of a myriad of contradictions and juxtapositions. Including (although not limited to) the self/collective, fleshy/networked body, pleasure/pain, the fallibility/infallibility of communication and language, and the construction/deconstruction of subjectivities in identity or narrative. The installation and its respective text piece in essence attempt to question the nature of reality, subjectivity and the self within the traumatic past/present.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve had doubt as to whether taking such dichotomies to their boundaries, particularly with that of the serious and the humorous, actively harmed the sincerity of the text. For example, in the printed edition I decided to frame invocations of tortured cocks and penises with the humorous visual analogues of roosters and dildos. In hindsight, I’ve realised that these seemingly opposing forces in Corpus Anorectous aren’t in fact contradictory. Or at least, not in quite the way that I had initially thought. The commingling of deeply serious confessional prose, along with imagery of the meme and net-ironic sensibility, describes the kind of existential irony that is found everywhere on the Internet. An inability to be authentic, to be vulnerable without putting up guardrails. Initially I thought this was a detriment to the work, confusing seemingly opposing themes. In using crass humour and imagery to subvert the prose. As if it were to somehow protect myself. But in reality, it is exactly as intended. It says what needs to be said exactly. In showing the pathos of such behaviour; pitying those that feel they cannot express themselves without adding footnotes and self-aware disclaimers. Dutch psychiatrist Bessel Van der Kolk puts it best:

Traumatised people are often afraid of feeling. It is not so much the perpetrators (who, hopefully, are no longer around to hurt them) but their own physical sensations that now are the enemy.²¹

In this sense, to feel and express without dissociation is dangerous. Something which only the brave attempt.

Ironically, my perpetrators, as it were, were the physical sensations all along. But Van der Kolk’s point remains the same. After a time, your own self and body become the very thing that perpetuates that kind of ontology:

Apprehension about being hijacked by uncomfortable sensations keep the body frozen and the mind shut. Even though the trauma is a thing of the past, the emotional brain keeps generating sensations that make the sufferer feel scared and helpless. It’s not surprising that so many trauma survivors are compulsive eaters and drinkers, fear making love, and avoid many social activities: Their sensory world is largely off limits.²²

Overall, I believe it is this dichotomy that is most important to Corpus Anorectous. In that whilst the sensory world is “off limits” and shuttered off, an inescapable rawness presides. As if the nerves themselves are raw, with no switch to shut off the alarm.

The writing is explicit and of a sexual nature. Please do not read if you are sensitive.

Looking back on it, it’s strange that I decided to preface Corpus Anorectous in this way

Similarly with the digital version.

Maybe out of fear that I may harm readers? In not wanting to traumatise them with something utterly foreign, ectopic and singular. As if I had no right to subject them with my private nonsense. Although, perhaps it may have been absurd of me to assume that readers would be willing to subject themselves to tortuous prose (in both its connotations), especially if they had no desire to do so. If there is a desire, maybe it is not so much in subjecting oneself to horror and someone else’s misery, but in finding a collective humanity — in finding that your sufferance is not the exception.

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoyevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.

James Baldwin²³

Form and Aesthetic Choices:

Corpus Anorectous is as much a post-internet work as it is a rendition of a life consumed by the ubiquitous presence of the Internet. Of course, the debate around the term has largely played out by now²⁴. Yet, it’s an easy and sometimes useful means to define the particular kind of form or aesthetic language behind an artwork. i.e. Corpus Anorectous is of a time mediated by the digital currents — by our hyper-connectedness to information, and to each other.

Since I’ve touched on a few aspects regarding the text and formal qualities of the print and web derivations, I will not be discussing them further. I will discuss however everything else that has not been dissected as of yet. These include the choice of imagery, the preference of CGI models over the real things themselves, 3D printed objects, and the form of the installation itself.

The choice of imagery and objects in the installation, if it weren’t evident by now, is a simple one — for they reflect the major themes and recurring motifs within the text:

1.    Eyes - source of pain, inability to see clearly
2.   The brain - changing of synapses in the face of trauma, brain chemistry etc…
3.   Erotism & pornography - sex and cyber-voyeurism as means of escape, behavioural addiction
4.   Hand-held smartphone - arguably the symbol for the networked and mediated self

Seething Eye, UV-Inkjet Print on Aluminium, 87.4 cm x 160 cm

Brain Insane, UV-Inkjet Print on Aluminium, 125 cm x 125 cm

Chaotic Erotic, UV-Inkjet Print on Aluminium, 120 cm x 90 cm

I felt that these three free-standing aluminium UV-inkjet prints best represented these recurring motifs in the text as a whole. They served to act as visual catalysts for the reader, all whilst still standing (pardon the pun) on their own in the installation for the regular viewer and exhibition vagabond.

3D Printed Hand, Blue ASA (FFF),19 cm x 11cm x 11cm
3D Printed iPhone 5 & Digital Photo Print, Polished Carbon Black Nylon, Actual Size

One aspect that I really wanted to drive home with the ‘hand-held phone’ objects was that particular gesture’s capacity as sculpture. Throughout the course of this decade, in particular, this corporeal expression has been made near universal. In the way that the body in sculpture is timeless (or even cliché) as an aesthetic form, the hand holding a phone towards oneself is arguably the contemporary gesture. To have not embodied that as part of Corpus Anorectous would have been a missed opportunity.

In terms of the sculpture’s configuration, I chose an iPhone 5 since its size fitted perfectly with the dimensions of the hand. I did attempt to use newer iPhones models, but they were too big to fit within the 3D printed hand. I could have changed the dimensions, but this would have negatively affected the scale of the hand. There’s a fine line between looking reminiscent of the thing itself, and the uncanny valley.
I did initially use a second-hand, non-functioning iPhone 5. However I decided against this as I couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t be stolen during the exhibition. It was for this reason that I decided to go for a 3D print instead. Moreover, the inability to show anything on the dysfunctional screen made this decision all the more easy.

My eyes searing. Baking in the light of the screen…

The decision to use computer-generated models for these various objects and images of bodies or bodily matter wasn’t just out of mere convenience. In this regard, the latter could be expressed succinctly by the likes of Jean Baudrillard:

Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory — precession of simulacra — it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map.²⁵

These three-dimensional equivalents act as simulacra for the real things themselves. Through the act of open-sourcing and collaging ‘material’ aspects found within the text, an almost literal dematerialisation takes place. It is as if the use of their corporeal equivalents would have been too close to the embodied experience expressed within the text to be employed or exploited. Too unnerving. Too close for comfort. And in this sense, the map precedes the territory. They act as comfortable, disembodied analogues for the real things themselves. For it is only through this method, via the found, the externalised and the appropriated, that this mad man can make sense of his predicament.

Closing Thoughts:

There are many things that could have been improved or revised. For one, the net-art edition on NewHive was poorly optimised. Or rather, the platform was. Where loading times were excruciatingly slow (as if it were dial-up), and in order to view the images one had to go back to index and go from there. It wasn’t seamless. Another drawdown were the many imperfections on the aluminium print of Seething Eye. It was the first time I had printed with a UV-flatbed printer at large scale. When the print had finished I discovered that the aluminium had to be cleaned with greater efficiency in order to have a clean print. As a result, distinctive wipe marks were plentiful and clearly visible to the scrutinising eye. Unfortunately, I did not have the time nor the budget to do a repeat. Regardless, the print was of decent quality still, and the marks were only visible to those who knew what they were looking for.

In this sense, there are arguably too many components to Corpus Anorectous as a whole. Potentially, something more focused or distilled could have served it better. Perhaps, just one version of the text would have sufficed? Maybe I shouldn’t have made it as accessible. Instead, making that a key feature? The point of entry through the QR code forces the viewer to be proactive in their viewing. And only once they do that, the content of the work is revealed. Much like in the way one’s life might be revealed when perusing through private files and search histories. Or like that of a hacker with unrivalled access of a victim’s monitor, byway of a man-in-the-middle attack. This was the kind of experience I desired to leave the viewer with; feeling they had stumbled upon something that was not meant to be happened upon. Interestingly, very few people did view the work this way. I can count on one hand the people who viewed the text through the QR code. And to be fair, who uses QR codes anyway²⁶?? If it weren’t for the printed copies, the core of the piece would have been missed entirely. But maybe that’s the point, where something worthwhile is said in that alone? Regardless, I’m pleased with the outcome.

Having thoroughly ransacked and desecrated this poor corpse, all there is left for me to say is that the ideas surrounding Corpus Anorectous still feel incredibly relevant, with many aesthetic questions and explorations still left open. I’m particularly interested in experimenting further with new-media, along with contemporaneous forms of storytelling; in facilitating narration which could only be done in a world “post-internet”.

Through the process of making this work, and re-immersing myself in its world, as Scarry might say: my sufferance has been externalised, objectified, and made “sharable” from what was “originally an interior and unsharable experience.”²⁷
And that’s all I could ask for. Isolation is a rapidly encroaching epidemic, something increasingly felt amongst many. To remove oneself from that singularly lonely, yet, collective experience, is to survive and endure — in all its myriad of meanings.

And with that said, for now, nothing else remains to be spoken.

Tangential Thoughts & Off-Topic
Pop Culture References:

One of my favourite songs I would to listen to on repeat. More often than not, I would imagine the subject of the song as if it were about me: Mark Eitzel - We All Have to Find Our Own Way Out - YouTube

We all have two choices: be a stiff or move
Be a stranger to your skin or live in the groove
But you don’t want nothing, you’re beyond all care
And you know what? I don’t love you enough for your despair
We all have to find
We all have to find
We all have to find
Our own way out

You talk of suicide, well hurray!
And yeah, that used to be me, but now what do I say?
Everyone needs a hand to help them down
You know what? I’ll hold your hand but I won’t drown
We all have to find
We all have to find
We all have to find
Our own way out

Lonely is the soul who pays and pays
Lonely the hero’s role you always play
Like a broken child star proud of some crappy show
But you know what? I hate drama and I don’t wanna know
We all have to find
We all have to find
We all have to find
Our own way out²⁸

Whilst researching Bataille’s Story of the Eye online I came across this:

Live Art Cabaret adaptation of the novel ‘The Story of the Eye’ by Georges Bataille, and is also inspired by the 3 marks of Existence, as taught by Buddhism.²⁹

What can I say?
It caught my eye.

The myriad of motifs around eyes in my work provided what I thought to be another very neat association. Ed Atkins has video piece where one of his character’s finds an eyelash caught under his foreskin.

“I wanted to ask whether you thought that finding an eyelash under your foreskin was significant?” So comes the flatly pronounced central query (well, an expression of intent to pose a query) from which Us Dead Talk Love unfolds, spoken by a bald, computer generated male head on one of the installation’s two large screens.³⁰

Corrupted eyes and sullied tears have been somewhat of a recurring visual motif in pop music over the last few years:

Billie Eilish’s When the Party’s Over³¹

Damn… That’s what I’m talking about. The symbolism is spot on. Black tears - like the tar of a polluted soul.

Other’s have used this kind of imagery too. Zayn did it way back in January 2016.³²

Rihanna’s ANTIdiaRy used the same symbolism with this tatted fella.³³

It’s uncanny this kind of imagery and symbolism reoccurs in pop-culture recently. As if it is an analogue for a kind of repressed collective sadness. A repression that is slowly diseasing and corrupting what should come naturally.

Of course, I had no idea about these until I started to write this post-mortem (besides Eilish’s When The Party Is Over). I’m a pretentious and arrogant music listener, man.

Synonyms for tears:

These couldn’t be more fitting.

References & Bibliography:

1.  Molly Soda on How Social Media Changes Us IRL - Artsy
2. Nelson, M. (2012). The Art of Cruelty. New York: W.W. Norton.
Hellraiser, Bataille and Limit Experiences - Cuck Philosophy - YouTube

4. Ecstasy Through Self-Destruction | Issue 107 | Philosophy Now
5. Bataille, G., Sontag, S. and Barthes, R. (2001). Story of the Eye. Penguin Books. 6. Bataille, G. and Dalwood, M. (1986). Erotism. City Lights Books, San Francisco.
7. Digital Detritus - Cyborg Anthropology
8. More Life: On Contemporary Autofiction and the Scourge of “Relatability” – Michigan Quarterly Review
9. Scarry, E. (1987). The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford University Press, U.S.A. 10. The Body In Pain by Elaine Scarry | soniaabbasshah
11. See 9.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
When an Image Becomes a Work: Prolegomena to Cattelan’s Iconology – Pool
15. Goldsmith, K. (2011). Uncreative Writing. Columbia University Press.
Review of Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age by Kenneth Goldsmith

17. Ibid.
Ero Guro Nansensu in Manga NSFW ⋆ Hakutaku

19. The erotic Japanese art movement born out of decadence | Dazed

20. This isn’t to insinuate that engaging in and enjoying the taboo is reprehensible, nor to say that the majority of sexual boulevards and examples included in the work are taboo, far from it.
It does become an issue however, where instead of being a healthy expression/exploration of one’s sexuality, it’s enjoyed as if it were a drug. Behavioural addiction expands in the face of a trauma, taking hold as a conditioned desire for more extreme and intense experiences arise. This is what I mean in this instance

21. Van der Kolk, B. (2015).The Body Keeps The Score. 1st ed. London: Penguin Books.
22. Ibid.

23. “Doom and glory of knowing who you are” by Jane Howard, in LIFE magazine, Vol. 54, No. 21 (24 May 1963), p. 89

In Corpus Anorectous, there is a moment where the character states that he thought his “pain was unprecedented”. Believe it or not, this is another happy accident. I had never read nor watched anything by James Baldwin until after Corpus Anorectous. Maybe I had heard his famous excerpt without realising the significance of its meaning. Or perhaps, there was something in the great, collective unconscious I had tapped into? Regardless, it’s a very satisfying bit of chance/synchronicity. This stuff is universal after all.

24. Post Whatever: on Ethics, Historicity, & the #usermilitia | Rhizome - Jesse Darling astutely pronounced the absurdity, as did many others, of post-internet as a term: “Voracious and machinistic, there’s nothing the art world can’t chew up; but the enduringly great ‘postinternet art’ won’t emerge in earnest until we stop believing in the myth of its futurity. The true subjectivity of present-future timespace lives out its rhizomatic manibodied philosophies in a mindless, uninformed, half-sentient cloud in that precarious suspended heaven that hangs like a loading error between far-flung labyrinths of data servers, while the whole of ‘postinternet’ stays in its filter bubble: creeping through the cracks in our Adobe suites, artfully sacrificing our expensive MacGodheads in HD on the pale altar of Tumblr– and tapping out thinkpieces like this one, over whose bones we’ll squabble on Facebook. None of our shit is anything new; most of it isn’t even that interesting.”

25. Baudrillard, J. and Poster, M. (1988). Selected Writings: Simulacra and Simulations. Stanford: Stanford University Press, p.166. 26. You might be surprised: The Curious Comeback of the Dreaded QR Code | WIRED
27. See 9.
28. Mark Eitzel – We All Have to Find Our Own Way Out Lyrics | Genius Lyrics
29. Empress Stah - Story Ov Thee I - (Resume) Torture - YouTube 30. Live: Ed Atkins – Us Dead Talk Love @ Chisenhale Gallery, London, 28/10/12 | ATTN:Magazine
31. Billie Eilish - when the party’s over - YouTube 
32. ZAYN - PILLOWTALK (Official Music Video) - YouTube
RIHANNA - ANTIdiaRy Full Film. - YouTube

© 2020 Samuel Storey