Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Psychic Portraits

Game devised by Jonah, Merl, Patrick and Paul

Each player in turn draws onto the same sheet of paper with their eyes shut.
The players are permitted to see what the others have drawn as the paper is passed around, but must keep their eyes closed when it is their turn to draw.
The paper is circulated until all the players agree that the drawing is finished.
Each player then produces a written interpretation of the image.

Jonah: We are the flames, and our dreams are stained by the entrails of horses.
Merl: A hanged man is pursued by arse-biting owls while a flying horse eats hay from the manger of the crescent moon and a turkey dances a mating dance with a pouncing cat.
Patrick: Whispering lines spreading their shadows searching for a hidden song.
Paul: The glove-eyed mouse is chasing a horse, sawn through, over flaming rocks, while a child is lassoed by stern-faced dogs and narwhals swim against the tide.

Jonah: The creature had a dead look; as if it lived and failed, as if a stake had been driven through its mind, its heart become sawdust.
Merl: The pineapple has grown wings and claws and become a triple-breasted eagle with the head of a Scottish headmaster.
Patrick: Whimsical wings sprout and flap to fly and lift the one-eyed head.
Paul: Drill through to the heart of her quivering flesh and her claws will grip, and her tail will speak.


Interdimensional Wizard said...

That's interesting, as it appears that there has just been some experimentation along 'Psychic Portrait' lines but in sound, what has been called 'Experimental Otherness Audio'. You can listen to or download the first transmission here: http://soundcloud.com/radio-test/radio-test-1

It's certainly Surrealist friendly!

Merl Fluin said...

Thanks for the link. I don't actually see the similarity/connection though.

Graham Myrtle said...

A lot of the tracks were made by two or more people, without hearing what had been created and what was being created. Each added to what was already there as a kind of 'aural comment'. Also, some of the spoken word pieces were inspired by/responses to the audio. This is sort of similar to the 'Psychic Portrait' method?

Merl Fluin said...

Ok, well I'm not sure from your description whether the contributors had or had not heard the preceding contributions, or to what extent each piece was a comment on/response to the one before. If they were responding to each other then there is a degree of similarity in the technique, although the rather linear form of the audio experiment seems to me to be a bit more like exquisite corpse than psychic portraits.

The level of technique is the least interesting level on which to think about similarities with Surrealism, though; other questions are more important. For example, the string of individual contributions doesn't seem to me to add up to more than the sum of its parts, which is a prime consideration of Surrealist collective play. I also think the framing of the experiment within an "occultist" tradition – although that tradition is of obviously of great interest to Surrealists as a poetic reservoir – closes down at least as many possibilities as it opens up. Surrealism is interested in the truly and radically unknown; I would say that occultism places the unknown within (a) predetermined cosmological context, and therefore to a certain extent contains it.

Similarities but not sameness, then, to be a bit less long-winded about it...

Graham Myrtle said...

You raise some interesting points. Most of the contributors had not heard the preceding tracks. Many of the tracks were made by two or more people, neither of whom had heard what had already been recorded for the track. But yes, the Radio Test project is more like the Exquisite Corpse.

I feel Radio Test #1 does add up to more than the sum of its parts, if only because it provokes wonder, and so I add my own value to the sum.

As for the occult limiting unknown possibilities, I'd say 90-95% of it does.

Anyhow, 'Psychic Portraits' is a great technique, and thanks for sharing it.

Interdimensional Wizard said...

The link for the "Experimental Otherness Audio" RadiO TEST #1 is now at the bottom of the description for RadiO TEST #2 here:

Anonymous said...

NB: The new place to go for all RadiO TEST Transmissions is here: