YOU START AT THE BOTTOME & HEAD UP, round a loop, then back on yourself before reappearing in a similar place, but better for the experience, & hopefully the journey leaves you richer. The trick is to remember the ampersand of life is just a ride, & whether you are at the top of the loop or rounding the bottom, you are still the same amazing original ampersand you always were destined to be.
At the end of every academic year, me and my students at Norwich University of the Arts have a tradition. In the broadest sense we ask ourselves: What (the fuck) happened?
The class of 2023 started their lives in the shadow of lockdown. Like all great explorers we went on a curious voyage of discovery. Tutors & students had to unlearn everything. LIVE & in real time. The old normal was frozen by the billionaire class. ‘They even made us say things like: sorry, only one banana!’ We were forever doom-scrolling unsure of how the next announcement from our babbling (lying) PM would change our futures.
Out of this eschaton beautiful things happened.
The most wonderful of all was to witness an outburst of analogue making & the quiet rejection of screens as dominating forces in our creative lives. Students conjured cyanotypes, screen prints, rust dyed fabric, cut paper for mono printing, made surreal collages, got political & spray painted covid screens, used 35mm film cameras despite the cost of living crisis, we went through a lot of toner using the photocopier to fuck things up, had fun with Rick (F37) cutting black paper into type, we cast spells in beetroot juice calligraphy drawn with pens made from beer cans with Tim, embossed & debossed, discovered gelli-plate printing, handbound books with trippy risographs, laser cut braille, we drew hundreds of skulls on a window with chalk pen, cross stitched bleeding hearts, & not forgetting the infamous rainbow crochet balaclavas!
An art school tutors dream manifest.
It’s the end or is just eschaton?
For the past three years, as Terrence McKenna says, we have created a lifeboat for our students ‘…set on the transcendental, & it is pulling us toward it through the medium of transforming our languages, through the medium of the imagination which is, after all, this mysterious mental domain in which we are whispered to by angels, demons, gods, ancestors, aliens, & out of that intercourse culture, self-transforming, shedding its face every 100 years, building on novelty is ascending toward a reaching out toward the unspeakable.’
Thirty individuals bravely joined us on this uncharted journey & they have made manifest incredible things from their imagination.
They are makers, writers, body paint artists, illustrators, activists, lettering & type designers, photographers, art directors, curators, fashion designers, make-up artists, fashion models, primary school teachers in training, future bar owners, book designers, type geeks, story tellers, lovers of grid systems & type hierarchy, publishers & graphic designers. They have surprised me & inspired me & made me smile many, many times…
Eschaton Art Direction
Lecture Extract — Taxonomy of Illusion by Terrence McKenna
History is only about 25,000 years in duration. The interesting part in the last 5,000 years, what has happened is that something confounding has entered the local situation or was always dormant there but has stirred to wakefulness and it is not God, not the God that in Milton’s wonderful phrase “hung the lamps like stars in heaven”. It isn’t that God. Maybe it’s the God of biology, but whatever it is, it is to us as we are to the termite, and what it is doing is … it is casting an enormous transcendental shadow back through time, over the epigenetic landscape of biological becoming, and in our species, for reasons mysterious to me, we mirror this thing and it has swung our compass away from the forward flow of genetic theme and variation and in a course orthogonal to biology. A course set on the transcendental, and it is pulling us toward it through the medium of transforming our languages, through the medium of the imagination which is, after all, this mysterious mental domain in which we are whispered to by angels, demons, gods, ancestors, aliens, and out of that intercourse culture, self-transforming, shedding its face every 100 years, building on novelty is ascending toward a reaching out toward the unspeakable.
This has been going on, I think, for billions of years. It has obvious and incontravertably been going on since the advent of consciousness in the human species, and now we’re there. We’re in the final domain of the confrontation with the secret. It is impossible to conceive of history going on for hundreds of years. It. The planet cannot sustain it. Uh, all of these, uh, social structures and institutions that we have surrounded ourselves with are obviously lifeboats. They are not made to last. They are made to carry us to a certain point in the life of the Earth and we are now there, or we are within 20, 30, 40, 50 years of confronting the transcendental object at the end of time that drew us out of the animal body.
History is the proof and the shockwave of the eschaton.