Grant Morrison’s ‘Alternity’ Spoken Word Performance [Video]
It’s relatively rare that we get so pure a dosage of Grant Morrison as that seen in a new video released this week by artist Steven Cook, known to comics fans for his illustrations and logo designs in 2000AD, American Virgin, and The Losers, as well as sleeve artwork for bands including Asian Dub Foundation and William Orbit. Originally recorded in 2002, the video documents Morrison’s spoken word performance “Alternity” inspired by Cook’s excellent photographs in an exhibition of the same name. The artwork manipulates and repurposes old photographs to suggest an alternate reality where anachronisms and time travelers may be the norm, like a photographic DJ mix. The material conveys a dominant counter-culture vibe that invokes symbols and allusions familiar to readers of Morrison’s The Invisibles, among other works.
Accompanied by live music from Ysanne Spevack and presented with the disclaimer, “this is fifteen minutes inside one of Steve’s photographs,” Morrison’s piece assaults the listener with a frenzied, confusing reality where Charles Baudelaire, Jack Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Andy Warhol and the Apollo astronauts debate the nature of the universe with no small amount of anxiety. Sounding a bit like Mad Libs for schizophrenics, Morrison’s performance is variously brilliant, funny, daft and frightening, and may be a groundbreaking work of genius or a load of total bullsh*t. Real performance art, basically.
The event was filmed by three cameras and recently cut together and released by Cook via his Vimeo account and Bleeding Cool. You can read excerpts, see some of Cook’s work and watch the entire Morrison and Spevack performance of “Alternity” after the jump. A full transcript is available on Cook’s website.
DROWNED BELOW THE SOUR GREEN MOONS OF PARIS, THESE PRESSURISED CELLARS OF THE CAFE MOMUS ARE KEPT OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY AS A GIFT TO A POVERTY-SMITTEN BUT CULTURE-ENRICHING BOHEMIAN DEMOGRAPHIC. WE SELF-PROCLAIMED AESTHETES LIKE TO GATHER NIGHTLY IN THE NAVY BLUE SHADOWS OF PLACES LIKE THIS FOR PEER GROUP VALIDATION AND THE PERFORMANCE OF DIY POETRY. AND THIS TOO IS WHERE YOU’LL ALWAYS FIND ME AND MY INSOMNIAC DROOGIES QUACKING BACK THE MILK AND RAW ABSINTHE, OSMOSING CREAMY GREEN BOOZE IN THE STYLE OF THOSE FOR WHOM ONLY MINUTES REMAIN BEFORE THE PROPHESIED ARRIVAL OF TEN THOUSAND SUICIDE ARCHANGELS PROGRAMMED BY JEHOVAH TO KICKSTART THE APOCALYPSE.
‘I SAW JACKIE O RISING FROM A DIAMOND JACUZZI,’ HE’S TELLING THE BAR STAFF. ‘BUCKLED AND LASHED AND STAPLED INTO A RADIOACTIVE RUBBER TWINSET ORDERED FOR HER BY CELIBATE PRIESTS WHO SPEND THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE, HUNCHED OVER ONLINE ILLUMINATED CATALOGUES FROM FETISH DESIGN OUTLETS..’
I SAW KENNEDY, HEADLESS IN THE INFERNO. PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONS OF NIGHT, BELCHING INCANDESCENT GAS LOOPS THOUSANDS OF MILES HIGH, A BLACK STAR, TEN TO THE POWER OF TEN THOUSAND TIMES MORE MASSIVE THAN THE NEW RENAULT MEGAN.’
‘I DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF THIS,’ SAYS THE WAITRESS, SPEAKING FOR US ALL.
SLY WARHOL SLIDES ME THE TRAVELLER’S PRIZED POCKETBOOK UNDER THE TABLE WHILE DISTRACTING THE STRANGER WITH THE OLD WASP IN A MATCHBOX TRICK. I FLIP THE SPIDER SKIN WALLET OPEN FOR A LOOK, TAKING NOTE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERSHIP CARD AND SECRET CYRILLIC DECODER RING INSIDE. AND THERE, IN BIRO ON THE BACK OF A BROWN V.A.T. ENVELOPE, IS THE MAN’S NAME UNDERLINING THE PROPOSED TITLE OF HIS IMPENDING FORAY INTO PAPERBACK SCI-FI.
‘THE TIME MACHINES: A SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE….BY L. H. OSWALD,’
GENETICALLY-MODIFIED BY BALLISTICS EXPERTS FOR ZEN PURITY OF PURPOSE, THE NEXT STEP IN BULLET EVOLUTION WAITS PATIENTLY TO BE BORN AND TO SLIDE FROM ITS STEEL CANAL, JOYFULLY BURROWING THROUGH THE ATMOSPHERE AT TWENTY FIVE HUNDRED FEET PER SECOND IN SEARCH OF A HUMAN HOST. THE INFANT SLUG KNOWS IT CAN ONLY SUCCESSFULLY IMPREGNATE ITS CHOSEN PRESIDENT IF HIS HEAD IS MADE EMPTY OF ALL THOUGHT; OTHERWISE, THERE WILL BE NO ROOM THERE FOR THE SHELL TO GROW TO MATURITY AND RIFLEHOOD. IT’S DELICATE, IMPROBABLE WORK, IMPREGNATING A MAN FROM SPACE WITH BULLETS.
HALF A MOUSE CLICK AWAY IN ALTERNITY, JOHN F. KENNEDY’S ESCAPE CAPSULE SURVIVES EXPLOSIVE RE-ENTRY TO SPLASH DOWN IN THE THAMES ON OLIVER’S ISLAND NEAR KEW. AN OPPORTUNISTIC TEN MONTH OLD URBAN FOX AND SEVENTEEN EARLY BIRDS EAT THE TASTY REMAINS OF THE BRAVE LITTLE LANDING MODULE BUT THE ASTRONAUT HIMSELF IS FOUND ALIVE BY SIX YEAR OLD LARABELLE CROFT, THE COMPUTER-GENERATED DAUGHTER OF JOHN HAMMERSMITH CROFT, A STRICT METHODIST MISSIONARY WITH REGULAR GIGS ON THE HEATHEN SHORES OF THE YANGTZE RIVER. KENNEDY SHIVERS AS SHE PICKS HIM UP, ALL DAMP WITH LUNAR DEW IN THE LUSH JAGGY NETTLE PATCHES OF A FRESHLY-MINTED EARLY MORNING UNIVERSE.