I Am Still Asleep

(is a Litho-printed concertina format publication, formed of twelve panels, each  16 x 16 cm.)

‘You are a projection of my mind’, says Pincher Martin, RNVR, the shipwrecked sailor in William Golding’s eponymous novel of 1956.  Towards the end of the book he becomes almost totally consumed by hallucinations, as his identity disintegrates, despite his determination to survive.

The story takes place on a mid-Atlantic rock outcrop, scarcely qualifying as an island.  Golding’s descriptions of its size are, in any case ambiguous, and this unfixed sense of space complements the bouts of introspection which consume his character.  This however is coupled with a feeling far more expansive, where horizons, both physical and cognitive, seem to lie at their most distant.  There is present also a kind of humour – a desperate humour perhaps.

Especially interesting is the importance here of purely evocative prose; descriptive writing which is just as critical to the development of the theme as any plot might normally be.  I am interested in ‘descriptive’ (perhaps pictorial) writing that functions in this way, but it is the abstractions, via Pincher Martin’s visions, that make the atmospheres so compelling.   The imagery of language that Golding employs with ease recalls, to a degree, the writing of the Latin AmericanMagic Realists, where there is no strict delineation between reality and irreality.

Suffice to say, this novel captured my imagination , not least with my current interest in all-things coastal.  It was gestating away, concealed, and, when I considered the possibility of producing a piece of visual work to link-in with the AOI Varoom Lab Symposium 2105, this inspiration immediately surfaced.

I decide that I would produce a kind of catalogue of atmospheres from the book by trawling its contents once again.  Having, in a sense misconceived the VaroomLab theme of ‘Visionaries’ and rather diverting toward Pincher Martin’s hallucinatory visions, I revisited the idea of Golding as a visionary writer, and that my own visualisations would be yet another facet of vision; one driven by inspiration and a sudden feeling of intimacy with these written words with which I would now allow myself  to declare, however shakily, some insight.

Identifying descriptive, but frequently enigmatic passages, I was able to conceive visuals and afterward couple them with other, disparate and isolated sentences from the novel.  These lines were divorced from the overall sequence and flow: effectively unfixed as independent, floating islands of meaning.

In terms of expression, I, quite probably, whilst remaining faithful to their origins, appropriated them (or rather their visual equivalents), inevitably project ing through them a degree of personal subjectivity.  To me this also raises a contentious argument regards the image-word axis.  I was creating imagery, or distilling it from an origin that, arguably. cannot be surpassed in terms of lyricism, in the same kind of way that, conversely, the written word might not hope to enhance the expressive quality of a painting, for instance. 

This transference to the visual risks the possibility being a futile gesture, one which might indeed impair that of its source.  We recognize the potency of the written word and the images this can conjure in the minds of multiple readers with, each time, widely varying nuance. 

Richard Schofield / October 2015