Dramatic Treatment for A Million Lies; Once and Only Revealed After Death (Triangle of Need)

Two folk singers are presented to an audience, a male singer and a female singer; they present three songs: an email scam is reinterpreted into a fake language that uses word forms from Swedish, Japanese and The Muppets, it has been written in the style of a man with incredible wealth whose desire is to resurrect a lost species, perhaps Neanderthal, his obsession with this recreation is non-specific; the second song is based on the life of the gun heiress Sarah Winchester and a proposal that the psychic who told her her fortune, which saw her indulge her wealth in a non-stop architectural project in San Jose, California, was actually a con artist seeking a vast share of her fortune; the third song is a new setting of the sea shanty Shallow Brown, from an arrangement by Percy Grainger and HE Piggott from 1908/1910. Shallow Brown, who was a sailor, and of a multi-racial background, known then as ‘challo’, and ostracized for his identity, was notorious for his philandering at different ports of call during his adventures at sea. It was claimed he stole the identity of different people at each port of call allowing him to create elaborate narratives for himself, employing these pretences to seduce women. The setting changes to Shallow Brown as he finds himself in the ship’s hold for an unnamed crime. Meanwhile Percy Grainger’s musical notes from his arrangement of the shanty are read, indicating that Brown received his moniker because he was shallow in his heart. In the hold Brown imagines the life of an immensely wealthy woman who he would seduce, fall in love with and eventually steal the fortune from, his time in the cell allows his imagination to run riot, however he is unaware that he is actually dreaming about the life of a real person, Sarah Winchester, and he has now entered her imagination. Sarah has become a prisoner to superstition, incredible wealth and a desire to remove herself from the public scrutiny, she indulges her every whim and lives out a life saturated by her superstition, she is motivated by a desire for immortality and conducts daily séances that reveal her future. She understands that the spirits killed by the gun that made her family fortune are returning to haunt her and during a psychic reading in Boston is informed that she must never stop building her home in order to protect her from these spirits; her home by the time of her death has become vastly complex, labyrinthine and enormously indulgent, the result of 38 years of non-stop additions, remodelling and adaptations. Sarah, on her death, leaves her fortune to a niece who receives the news of her new fortune in a letter delivered by Sarah’s family lawyers. The letter is read, but it is actually an email scam from the present and it has been rewritten attempting to share a ‘fortune’ of $20.50. A series of spirits in the form of Scotch and Bourbon are drunk by the narrator. The email scam read is the same one used by the American artist Catherine Sullivan from her work Triangle of Need, which the narrator viewed in New York, and also wrote reviews of, published in a series of online and print magazines. The spirits he is drinking are actually hallucinogenic and he enters the imagination of Catherine Sullivan. At the same moment a woman on screen reads out the dosage of tranquilisers she has taken to stem the severity of her panic attacks brought on by the stresses associated by her bullying repulsive employer. Sullivan’s dramatic treatment of Triangle of Need is read briefly concentrating on James Deering an early 20th century industrialist in Miami who built an opulent estate from his huge wealth; he is also a film collector and his wealth allows him to retreat from real life yet viewing it through films from the Pathescope collection of short films, in now redundant film formats. The films show normal scenes from everyday life, scenes from anthropology, just general footage. The narrator mentions an ice-skater seen in the original Triangle of Need film by Catherine Sullivan and also a similar ice-skater in a film made by the Scottish artist Wendy McMurdo. All the while we see scenes from Frank Capra’s film It’s A Wonderful Life, re-imagined by the artist Lewis Holleran, who has removed the scenes which see the central character George Bailey ‘experience’ his life as though he had never existed. Holleran’s film appears in the list of films James Deering collected. A different man named Deering appears, a criminal, and death row inmate, who allows an experiment on his heart to take place at the moment of his execution. In this moment he imagine a life outside of crime, confinement and imprisonment. He understands at this moment of death, the shallowness of his heart. These ideas of confinement and desire find themselves within one of Sarah Winchester’s daily séances, none of which have ever been recorded. A second scam email is read, this time a job offer to join the crew of a ship that will sail the ocean, the ship is apparently the property of a company that specializes in indulging the whims of the wealthy, meanwhile the perpetrator of the scam alludes to the good quality nature of its proposed victim. The action moves to Moonbase Alpha from the TV series Space 1999. The crew of this space station based on the moon have been blown out of earth’s orbit and are now adrift in the universe. Alone and isolated they plan to inhabit a new planet. Years into their journey a crew member believes he knows where they can find a habitable planet, but the Captain of the space station is unconvinced and secures any attempts to locate this, as he believes, fictional planet. He locks down any tracking devises, any navigation devices and any technology that would allow them to scan for this new home. He fears raising hopes and desires of the crew members. Suspicious of his Captain’s motivations and now without the technology to seek this planet the crew member devises a séance to find it location. The séance proves futile and the obsessed crew member, now realizing he has been hallucinating due to extended confinement, demands that all the screens and technologies are switched off forever. Finally, a new character appears, the disgraced New York Times journalist Jayson Blair, who was found to have falsified and/or plagiarized his news stories; he describes the moment when his employers confront him with his deceptions.

Screen Tests. Draft soundtrack. 3 screens. Filmed during a Creative Lab Residency at the CCA, Glasgow and on location.

The distribution of Alt-w awards is managed by New Media Scotland and funded by Scottish Screen and Scottish Arts Council.

ART TORRENTS: Jeremy Blake - Century 21 (2004)
His latest subject is Sarah Winchester, the eccentric heir to a firearm fortune. .... Mark Leckey - Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999) · Francis McKee - In ... - Similar pages

25 words
This work, a multi-channel video and performance, commingles complex synchronised narratives, biographies and re-enactments investigating lies, need and imitation to scrutinize identity and its theft.

100 words
A Million Lies; Once and Only Revealed After Death is a multi-channel video installation and performance, which deploys numerous references, fake identities, email scams, archetypes and biographies, texts and participants to scrutinize identity and its theft through an intense investigation on lies, need, deception, belief, imitation, superstition, deliberate misinformation equated with multiple theatre and cinematic genres, techniques and traditions. Using improvised performance-led processes it considers the fragility of identity and memory from external physical or technological sources or through the materialization of internal psychological or physiological distress. The work collides abrasively these narratives and chronologies using live and pre-recorded performance.

250 words
A Million Lies; Once and Only Revealed After Death is a multi-channel video installation and performance which orchestrates exceedingly complex, abrasive and synchronised sets of ideas surrounding lies, imitation, deception, need, wealth, desire, belief, superstition and resources/means. Citing Nicolas Bourriaud’s Postproduction thesis its mirrors a contemporary alignment of visual art practice with DJ practice assembling and re-deploying pre-existing materials with the arbitrary, disordered, abstract. disorientating condition of the exploiting the ‘search engine’ to generate an intense narrative of collided, collage-led, editorialised extracts and references. The performance collides and synchronizes live and pre-recorded materials cued to a multi-channel video installation devised by a group of artist and performance collaborators who have worked with Alex Hetherington since November 2008. The story revolves round the correlation of four central inter-related narratives and artworks: the biography of eccentric gun heiress Sarah Winchester and the heir to her fortune and the Winchester Suite, a video installation by the artist Jeremy Blake with the falsified narratives of email scams, where a huge fortune is discovered following a violent death. The second narrative exploits and re-enacts elements of American artist Catherine Sullivan’s film works The Chittendens and Triangle of Need equating their distressing, disorientating sensibilities with the progressive dismantling of the memory and identity of Alex Hetherington’s mother. Alongside this are related references to the psychology and consequences of lying, the employment of disjointed chronologies, and extracts from selected correspondingly fake artworks, films, theatre and music, continuing to, at once, establish and dismantle identity and its values.

Alex Hetherington is an air-head, with no personality and a shameless desire to be someone else.

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