Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.SA.12.1.6 | PDF

At the tail end of Octo­ber, here I am, pick­ing through the mem­o­ries of the Struc­tures of Antic­i­pa­tion work­shop from May. Flip­ping back to a take a heart­beat on a moment through a five-month gap is not quite so odd a men­tal space as return­ing to a city I’d once lived in over a decade-and-a-half before. I haven’t been back to Wind­sor much since I left in 2006, except for the occa­sion­al stop-through to vis­it friends made dur­ing radio DJ days at the university’s cam­pus sta­tion, CJAM.

In the near-present, it is the jar­ring feel­ing of dis­place­ment that sticks the most. To be back in Wind­sor, self-pro­pelled on foot (as I always am, as a non-dri­ver), walk­ing miles a day in slow time towards pos­si­ble some­things to pho­to­graph in the dis­tance. Places I was shocked to find still had a stake in the soil, things gone beyond recog­ni­tion, a lit­tle more grime, and find­ing some of the city’s main­stay busi­ness­es and bars wiped out by the reces­sion. The grassy foot­print where the house of a friend had been, which had burned a few years pri­or. Nos­tal­gia can be such a grind—it isn’t always warm and fuzzy. This vague melan­choly wove its way into the work I pro­duced dur­ing the workshop.

The memex might be a lit­tle faulty too, because I devel­oped a tena­cious ear­ly sum­mer cold the night before I was set to trav­el to Wind­sor. I man­aged to keep a safe dis­tance while scratchi­ly intro­duc­ing myself to oth­er par­tic­i­pants, para­noid I was going to break out in a cough­ing fit. At a gallery read­ing event, I act­ed as a proxy and fog-horned my way through the essay of one of my writ­ing men­tors, Les­ley Stern. The sound of my voice exag­ger­at­ed inside of my own head thanks to a bur­geon­ing ear infec­tion. It all seems appro­pri­ate, giv­en the essay’s focus on ill­ness and whales.

Think­ing back to the spring, I see myself as a vibrat­ing embod­i­ment of antic­i­pa­to­ry ener­gy. Life was weight­ed between excit­ing and seem­ing impos­si­ble. Nev­er mind that sum­mer cold my wak­ing world had become pro­found­ly frag­ment­ed in Jan­u­ary when a hor­ren­dous cycle of insom­nia latched its claws in, out of nowhere. Night after night, I was aver­ag­ing three hours of sleep. I’d been fight­ing with health insur­ance for months to access test­ing and treat­ment. I didn’t know it yet, but after win­ning the right to pay for some expen­sive tests, a spe­cial­ist dis­cov­ered that my pitu­itary gland had stopped pro­duc­ing the hor­mones I need­ed to sleep. On the oth­er hand, I’d also just found out that I’d been select­ed for a life-chang­ing Kres­ge Arts in Detroit Fel­low­ship (which I couldn’t share pub­licly yet).

The work that I pro­duced dur­ing the Struc­tures of Antic­i­pa­tion work­shop became an explorato­ry way to com­bine the loose ideas I’d been float­ing around: the cul­tur­al his­to­ry of frag­ments, stone folk­lore, and the lens of chron­ic insom­nia. Visu­al frag­ments gath­ered from the city, sleep­less film favorites, and his­toric haunt­ings were processed into col­lages. Out­side of acad­e­mia, I’d nev­er had the chance to sim­ply retreat—and pro­duce. Of the five image and text pair­ings I cre­at­ed, this one seems appro­pri­ate because it is both hope­ful, humor­ous and impa­tient. It cap­tures the precipice point of dis­cov­ery and diag­no­sis, calm and celebration.

This image is neither decorative nor strictly available for simple denotative description. Our project rejects captions altogether. The spirit of this project is very much one of uncertainty and imagination. We hope that anyone with visual impairments will glean information from the written compositions.

Spain, 1971. The “Faces of Belmez” man­i­fest in the Pereira fam­i­ly floor—undulating imprints of the dead. Wired at 4:12am, I’m (momen­tar­i­ly) dis­ap­point­ed an Out­er Lim­its episode isn’t about sen­tient archi­tec­ture, but an ener­gy enti­ty sparked to life inside a vac­u­um clean­er motor. Cloud-like, it roams, con­sum­ing lives.

Fri­day night in an emp­ty hos­pi­tal lock­er room wait­ing for the MRI tech. Some­one has inflat­ed an exam­i­na­tion glove and left it on a chair. A puffy spec­tral hand, wav­ing to the HVAC. While the machine clanks beats around my head, assem­bling clues, I fall asleep strain­ing to mem­o­rize its mag­net­ic patterns.