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Books and films

‘A line made by walking’ by Sara Baume. 

This was suggested after I was trying to describe my contextual essay idea. I wanted something like a travel guide that passes through the town of Spheresville but incorporated factual artists and ideas.  I really did enjoy her book and it did help me in my essay.


It was also suggested to look at  Simon O’Sullivan’s website where I discovered a series of essays. I have read one called ‘Fictioning the landscape’.   It was in this essay that the idea of ‘docufiction’ really got my attention. I then went on to discover the Robinson Trilogy by Patrick Keiller.

La Jetée

La Jetee is a 1962 French science fiction film by Chris Marker. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. It is 28 minutes long and shot in black and white.

I found it very subtle science fiction film but it has influenced so many Hollywood blockbuster movies with its storyline and concept. These include 12 Monkeys and the Terminator series.

Because it was shot as a series of stills apart from one scene where the female lead blinks it had a graphic novel style to it. Its narration put me in mind of the London Trilogy by Patrick Keiller. Although with Keiller’s work there is a complete absence of people.



Aurora is a new opera by a young composer called Noah Mosely.

I saw it at a small venue in Surrey called Bury Court Opera.

Based on an Italian folk story and set in the Dolomite mountains, the libretto tells the tale of King Doleda whose daughter is withering before his eyes as she suffers from a terrible illness of the night which also killed her mother.  He is desperate to save her, and when the King encounters a charismatic Wise Woman in the woods, the Princess journey of self-knowledge, spiritual awakening, sacrifice and love is set in motion. The powerful story deeply resonates with our modern times. Aurora is the second opera BCO has commissioned from Noah Mosley. 

I enjoyed the opera and I was very inspired by the simplicity of sets and costumes. There were also two counter tenors. I have heard a counter tenor in Damon Albarn’s album ‘Dr Dee’ and I was fascinated by it.

During the Romantic period, the popularity of the countertenor voice waned and few compositions were written with that voice type in mind.

In the second half of the 20th century, there was great interest in and renewed popularity of the countertenor voice, partly due to pioneers such as Alfred Deller, as well as the increased popularity of Baroque opera and the need of male singers to replace the castrati roles in such works. Although the voice has been considered largely an early music phenomenon, there is a growing modern repertoire.

I am hoping to include two counter tenors in a future film.

August 23rd.

I have now seen the opera performed at a theatre in Dalston called the Arcola. It was a different stage set up so really interesting to see how it would translate. The actors were much more engaged with the audience as they had to move through the public walkways to come on and off set.


HyperNormalisation is a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. It argues that governments, financiers, and technological utopians have, since the 1970s, given up on the complex "real world" and built a simpler "fake world" run by corporations and kept stable by politicians. The film was released on 16 October 2016

Running at nearly three hours long the film is divided up into sections.

The word hypernormalisation was coined by Alexei Yurchak, a professor of anthropology who was born in Leningrad and later went to teach in the United States. He introduced the word in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (2006), which describes paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s. He says that everyone in the Soviet Union knew the system was failing, but no one could imagine an alternative to the status quo, and politicians and citizens alike were resigned to maintaining the pretense of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the fakeness was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed hypernormalisation.

This chapter begins with a montage of unidentified flying object sightings recorded by members of the public in the United States. It argues that the phenomenon surrounding UFOs in the 1990s was born out of a counter-intelligence operation designed to make the public believe that secret airborne high-technology weapons systems tested by the US military during and after the Cold War were alien visitations. Top secret memos forged by the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations were allegedly leaked to ufologists who spread the manufactured conspiracy theory of a government cover-up to the wider public. The method, called perception management, aimed to distract people from the complexities of the real world. American politics are described as having become increasingly detached from reality. Curtis uses the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s as an example of an event that took the West by surprise because reality had become less and less important. A Jane Fonda workout video is shown to illustrate that socialists had given up trying to change the real world and were instead focusing on the self and encouraging others to do the same. The video is intercut with footage of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, being executed by firing squad and buried following the Romanian Revolution in 1989.

This is a very complex film

I don’t quite know how to pick it apart.

People might describe it as a conspiracy theory but I think that term has been widely developed to deter different views and opinions of reality being expressed in order to keep the current reality we live in.

In his talk at The Serpentine gallery in 2012 Adam argues that brain washing is something that doesn’t actually exist when it comes to ‘cults’ and radically different beliefs. Again it is something that has been developed to make us feel we are a fragile creature that could quite easily be swayed to believe to most ludicrous ideas. We now live in a society that is fearful of anything that could be seen and radically different from the norm thus closing our minds and our society to alternate views and possibilities of the future that could in fact progress mankind. He argues that Christianity was a cult, Marxism and capitalism too.

Because of this assumption that aliens are a fiction the chapter in the film  regarding UFO sightings is particularly relevant. The US government is actively encouraging the belief of aliens to detract from their top secret weapon and aircraft testing. They did this by leaking top secret documents to key UFO theorists who then spread these ideas amongst the larger UFO community.

The reason this was done is an example of the Hypernormalisation, to distract people from the complexities of what was really going on. I don’t know if I believe this. Maybe part of me wants to believe in the mystery of UFOs still.

What I do draw from this is the creation of a ‘fiction’. A fiction many people want to be real and do consider fact. This blurring of fact and fiction.

Flatland. A romance of many dimensions

Written by Edwin A .Abbot and first published in 1884, ‘Flatland, A romance of many dimensions’

Is a book uses the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to comment on the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions.

In Flatland, the narrator of the story known as A. Square is visited by a sphere from Spaceland which opens his eyes to the concept of 3 dimensions.

This book is quite dated in its social commentary and also the two dimensional world isn’t possible the way it is described as a thickness is needed to see and feel the sides of different shapes in order to distinguish their social hierarchy. Because of this they are 3 Dimensional.

I have previously read about the fourth dimension and the object/sphere that appears in my story is possibly a fourth dimensional hypercube.

I am currently undecided on what the object should look like. Having also studied UFO research it is interesting how people describe objects .i.e. flying saucers, cigars. The reason they say these recognisable things is because of the human mind and its limitations to describe things but only able to do so using a library of references.

Therefore I am quite interested in how an object can exist but for each individual it appears different.

I might incorporate this into my story.

I looked for the Meta version of Flatland. It is a virtual reality type experience. I’m only able to see tiny previews but it reminds me of trippy rave culture visuals in the 90’s.


All Souls by Javier Marias

I was introduced to this book by Stephen Chambers who quotes it as his first awareness of the Kingdom of Redonda which he then developed into a series of 101 paintings entitled The Court of Redonda.

The story is set in Oxford in the late 80’s and revolves around a Spanish tutor /translator who is teaching at Oxford University and his affair with a married woman.

Although Marias did in fact teach at Oxford the book is largely fiction. Except for the descriptions of Gawlsworth the writer who was to became King of Redonda. It was from this book that Marias himself was later to become king.


2000 word Essay bibliography


Abbot, E.A (1884) Flatland, Penguin Books

Chambers, S (2018) The Court of Redonda, The Heong Gallery at Downing College

Chambers, S (1995) This man is a leopard, Flowers East

Chambers, S (2012) Artists Laboratory, The Royal Academy of Arts

Chambers, S (2008) Stephen Chambers, Andrew Lambirth, Unicorn Press

Coates, M (2005) Journey to the Lower World, published in the Bookscapes series by morning star and platform projects

Fiction as Method (2017) edited by Jon K Shaw, Theo Reeves-Evison, Sternberg Press

Futures and Fictions (2017) edited by Henriette Gunkel, Ayesha Hameed, Simon O’Sullivan, Repeater Books

Le Guin, U.K (1985) Always Coming Home, Gollancz 2016

Marias, J (1998) Dark Back of time, Chatto and Windus 2003

Marias, J (1989) All Souls, Harvill 1992

Shovelin, J (2007) A Dream Deferred, Haunch of Venison

Shovelin, J (2006) Lustfaust, A folk Anthology 1976-81, Riflemaker Press


Marias, J (2006) Javier Marias, The art of Fiction No 190, Sarah Fay, The Paris Review

O’Sullivan, Simon (2018) Fictioning the landscape. Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology, 5:1, 53-65, DOI: 10.1080/20539320.2018.1460114


Coates, M (2005) Journey to the Lower World

Marker, C (1962) La Jetee

Shovelin, J (2013) Hiker Meat

Shovelin J (2015) Rough Cut

Tarkovsky, A (1979) The Stalker

1000 word essay bibliography

Alys, Francis (2005) Seven Walks, London 2004-5. Published by Artangel

Baume, Sara (2017) A line made by walking. Windmill Books.

BladeRunner (1982) The Ladd Company, The Shaw Brothers, Warner Bros

Keiller, Patrick. (1994)  London.  D. Patrick Keiller. P.Keith Griffiths

Keiller, Patrick  (1997) Robinson in Space. D. Patrick Keiller. P. Keith Griffiths

Keiller, Patrick (2010) Robinson in ruins. D Patrick Keiller

Mwalim A, Mwalim (1998) Doors of Zanzibar. HSP Publications

O’Sullivan, Simon (2018) Fictioning the landscape. Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology, 5:1, 53-65, DOI: 10.1080/20539320.2018.1460114

Peters, Arthur King (1987) Jean Cocteau and his world. Thames and Hudson

Roe, Sue (2014) In Montmarte Penguin Books

Roe, Sue (2018) In Montparnasse Pengiun Books

Shovelin, Jamie. (2007)   A dream Deferred. Haunch of Venison publications.

Shovelin, Jamie. (2009) The evening redness in the west. Haunch of Venison publications.

Williams, Bedwyr. (2016) The Gulch.  The Barbican. Accessed 5/12/2018 Accessed 5/12/2018  Accessed 9/12/18

Accessed 9/12/18  Accessed 10/12/18  Accessed 28/12/18

4000 word essay bibliography

Fiction as Method (2017) edited by Jon K Shaw, Theo Reeves-Evison, Sternberg Press

Futures and Fictions (2017) edited by Henriette Gunkel, Ayesha Hameed, Simon O’Sullivan, Repeater Books

The Coming Race (1871). Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton, Loki’s Press

Le Guin, U.K (1985) Always Coming Home, Gollancz 2016

O’Sullivan, Simon (2018) Fictioning the landscape. Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology, 5:1, 53-65, DOI: 10.1080/20539320.2018.1460114

From Science Fiction to science fictioning: SF’s Traction on the real, Simon O’Sullivan  pp. 74-84, Foundation The International Review of Science Fiction, no.128(2017)

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