I went to see the Mike Kelley exhibition at Wako Works of Art yesterday. It is very good. Kelley is presenting four groups of photographs and a selection of recent sculptures from the 'Kandor' series. The photographs all relate to Kelley's long interest in spiritualist, symbolist and pictorialist photography. Of particular interest to me was seeing The Ectoplasm series, initially made in 1978 with artist David Askevold for a project entitled 'Poltergeist'. The Wako exhibition shows never-before printed images.
The exhibition made me think about fakery, the human body as an organ always on the verge of spillages and liquid excretions, and how artists have related to matter as some manifestation or extension of something totally Other, fluid and unspeakable, like ectoplasm.
If there is one artist who 'turned me on' to contemporary art it is the Austrian Franz West. I have always thought about his Adaptives - blobular sculptural forms which can be held and awkwardly played with - as something similar to psychic excretions, unformed unconscious shapes which we are invited to examine and behold. West has exhibited with Kelley in the past, and the two clearly share interests.
The idea of spillage may also be used in thinking about UFO phenomena. Carl Jung and Terence McKenna have both proposed that we think about them not as actual physical things out there, but as extensions or excretions of our imaginations - perhaps objects refracted back from some Other place into our here and now - into our imaginaries.
An interesting, but marginalised, scholarly resource that provides a useful theory into such speculations may be Julian Jaynes' 1976 "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". In the bicameral state human beings actually heard voices which they interpreted as coming from Gods or spirits - the mind is conceived as still fragile, open to the interjections and disturbances of Mysteries.
This little painted stone by Max Ernst from 1934 is another favorite of mine. It reminds me of the human urge to mark material objects in order to somehow soften or prepare their surface for spillage to occur. My reading of archaic cave drawings and scratchings also follow this thinking. The preparation and ingestion of psychedelic substances by people through time and into the present can also be understood as a loosening of the bounded mind, allowing for temporary re-circulation and seepage.