The group originally met in October 2019, arising from a forum I set up to re-read the Invisibles on its 25th anniversary. While the forum did not take off, the group has continued to meet online and in person over the past few years.
For the past few years, I’ve been collaborating on little art projects with a group in London. Earlier this year we released a recording of improvised soundscape from our second or third meeting, just before the pandemic started. It’s called The Drawing of the Map, and you can listen to it on bandcamp. My contribution to this was mostly random background noises, but it’s good to know that I am now credited on a record.
The aim of the ritual was to distribute a set of ‘element stones’ between the group, offering roles and possibilities for the future. It was based on the same ritual carried out in the early stages of volume two of the Invisibles comic.
Rather than use the traditional four or five elements, we chose our own elements as a group, placing their name and a symbol onto some pebbles. Among the stones were plastic, mirror, and story. These were then drawn out and allocated. The two elements I received (in absentia) were story and cosmos.
Story was an element I had put forward, and it’s something I’d been thinking in relation to an article Daisy Campbell wrote for Bodge 9 (it’s on page 24 of the PDF). Daisy’s piece talks about how “A story is really a value-exploration machine”. She went on to say that we are missing a sense of telos, a pull towards our values, and without that, our stories are becoming meaningless. I’m taking this as a good reminder that we need stories, and we need something to direct them towards.
Cosmos is an interesting second element. The pandemic was a time of confinement, where life was lived in a single place under lockdown. It played into my love of staying home and doing things on my own. Cosmos seems a reminder to get back to the world, to take my place in a larger universe. I grew up with a love of reading, and it’s easy to mistake sitting indoors reading for doing something. For me, the cosmos element is about going into the universe and taking more of a part in it.