Film triptych shown in 3 lanterns surrounded by 9 film loops contained within old ship lanterns and railway signal lamps installed in the Chancel of St Johns church as part of Magnetic Atlas installation 2013-14.
These lamps are suspended from the ceiling at varying levels in the Chancel. Each has a glass viewing screen, behind which a film loop is shown. The lamps themselves have all had different histories related to their purpose; once lighting the way for boats at sea or signalling the way for trains.
Three central lamps contain a sync’d triptych which draws on themes found in the first part of the story of the Holy Rood or origins of the Cross upon Jesus’s crucifixion took place. The title is taken from the text ‘Ordinalia’, a 12th century Cornish mystery play which was performed in a round known as no-man’s land. These medieval performances were dramatized sacred histories, apocryphal stories and miracles, with importance placed on seeing, understanding and believing; literature of the fantastic – conveying moral and doctrinal truths either directly or symbolically. The text itself is a very long exotic tale, three seeds from the Tree of Life are planted in the mouth of the dead Adam and grow into saplings which become three holy trees, which journey in a variety of forms though time and across deserts eventually growing together to form one tree which symbolises the mystery of the Trinity. It is cut down, discarded by Solomon and used as a bridge, later it is buried, and over time Lake Bethesda forms above it, whose water has miraculous healing powers. The submerged beam floats to the surface when Christ is born.
The beam/tree/cross has the power to transform, it changes its environment and undergoes changes; from a discarded thing to a revered thing to an instrument of torture. The verdant growth of the seeds from Adams mouth suggests themes found in the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and the portrayal of Adam’s post mortal fecundity are a symbol of rebirth which comes with spring, reflected by the deity of the Green Man. There are also baptismal overtones with the juxtaposition of fire and water.
The sync’d screen triptych opens in the theatre, the lights go down and the story begins. We see the cyclical story of seed, tree and apple. The theatre is a place in which the audience can experience a story together; a shared experience becomes the ritual which has the ability to link us both physically and spiritually. The 7 smaller lamps which surround the triptych contain fragments of narrative or short film loops of naturally occurring events or environments, such as the reed bed, mountain, and forest. These sites engender memory and are the places in which meaning is rooted in their substance. They are a storehouse of potential of energy and can act as a stage which can embody, produce or contain energy – sometimes spiritual, sometimes a more real force. Places of ceremony such as the clearing in the woods, or the theatre stage or the temple require the ritual happening or event; the roadmap for connective thought.
Ordinalia installation shots and stills from central 3 screen film