Rumours Of The Existence Of #HikerMeat Have Been Grossly Exaggerated
A. Taylor went to Manchester, of that much I am (un)certain.
While we were there we saw an exhibition called ‘Hiker Meat’. This was, of course, by accident and we walked blindly into the Cornerhouse, blissfully going with the flow. We saw that there was an exhibition on so we walked upstairs, took a flyer-type-thing off the nice lady with dark hair behind the desk and walked through the doors.
Now, we had been drinking the night before and were rather tired and slow and all the other things someone is when they get up around midday so we were not prepared for all the information. I groaned in my head. I’d come to see some art not to read long drawn out paragraphs about some director and some film I’d never heard of. Nevertheless, we pushed on, reading about the noise-rock band Lustfaust, who were drafted in early for the film, reading about the director, Jesus Rinzoli, and, from then on, things got a little convoluted. Directors left, came back, writers changed, scripts were drafted and re-drafted, scenes were shot, edited, re-done and re-made, ideas were stolen and re-appropriated and all these were surrounded by an army of dates and numbers. I saw a murderer who looked the spit of Norman Bates, a pastiche of the house from psycho, I saw various incarnations of posters and advertisements and dates and dates and dates.
Ow, my head.
I gave up reading and decided to just look at the pretty things.
There were no pretty things.
There was props, scripts and memorabilia, costumes worn by actresses and casting photos, all rather aged and either behind glass or plastered with DO NOT TOUCH. I was reminded of our trip to the art gallery the other day.
That’s what it felt like, a museum and I’ll be honest I was annoyed. I found the whole thing extremely self-indulgent, like someone was ramming this directors extremities down my throat and telling me that I was bloody lucky to have it there. If it was that bloody good, why have I never heard of it? Must have been shit and this is just some hipster type artist looking back with John Lennon style glasses, pointing and shouting ‘see, look how cool I am showing you this cool stuff, now open wide’. I could imagine him now, a white man with dreadlocks or something. Someone had built a giant memorial to some obscure film-maker and expected me to swallow it. Like a true Brit though, I carried on. I looked to my companion who was also looking rather confused by it all. Surrounded by walls of white writing always advancing on us on its murky green wall.
We ascended the stairs to the next room and I hoped it would get better. It didn’t. I mean, it looked promising, no sickly writing this time, just a room with four pieces of wall with a small bench in front of it. On this small bench was a man, looked about in his 40’s, with jeans, some brown shoes, an off white coat and an absurdly long scarf…yes, you know the type. I shook my head, bet he drinks wine and discuss this with his mates when they next play golf or go and see some play with the word ‘fuck’ in the title. Projected onto the walls were what I imagined were scenes from Hiker Meat and it’s various incarnations. There was footage from the original filming, done in low quality and some done later down the line in better quality. It was certainly done in the ‘slasher’ style, the blonde star was wearing very little and was running and screaming at appropriate points. Then it cut to a slow motion scene of some woman setting down a blanket for her and a child. I admit, I didn’t care. I liked the set up though, with the films overlapping, juxtaposing and showing the evolution of the film. Then I got bored. Then I got bored of being bored. Then I…hang on, that set looked just like the house from Evil Dead 2… I gestured to my accomplice and left the wine drinking man to himself who was, of course, sporting the classic pose of the intellectual, legs outstretched and crossed, arm folded and hand on chin in the performance of deep thought. I could almost feel his thoughts banging against my brain “I’m so clever, I find this interesting, look at you two, you’re obviously not cut out for this, just leave and take your dysfunctional brains with you, you’re bringing my IQ down”. So we left the room.
And then I saw it.
The film of the re-making of Hiker Meat.
Oh, that’s it, that’s the straw that broke the hangover’s back. So this was it, was it? The whole charade was just a huge attempt at an advertisement for this Rough Cut film. Well, I’d had enough. I began preparing my speech for when we left, I would tell my friend how I thought it was self-indulgent and manipulative and that would show them. We went up to the next room. Take that exhibition.
The third floor was the best. I looked for a while at the collection of talking heads propped up against a wall. They were, of course, TV’s but the lighting was done in such a way that the white glow from the screens created the illusion that the floating shoulders had no point of origin.
I took a picture and stamped it into my digital footprint.
Past the TV’s was a circle of blackboards (do not touch) with notes scrawled all over them. It reminded me of my white wall at home where I had spent years scribbling lines of borrowed poetry and word-doodles. There were notes on serial killers and various criminals who’s names had been pilfered for various characters in the film. I spotted many references to Jamestown and the appropriate massacre/mass suicide.
I paced around the room, for the first time stimulated by what I saw. There was a consistent line of inconsistent squares and rectangles. It ran through the centre of all the boards and looked sort of like a city skyline come to think of it… I love the idea of scores so was instantly drawn to it, watching it bend and flex across the space, picking up notes as it went, dates, dates and more dates and more dates and more information.
After a time and a brief discussion with my companion we decided to leave and bounced down the stairs, bags banging against the back of our legs.
-Is one way it ended.
We walked into the first room and I smiled. It was like a museum and I couldn’t help but chuckle; none of this was real. Jamie Shovlin is a known trickster, taking his deceptive exhibitions to extremes, even building fake websites around the fake band Lustfaust when he pulled that stunt. We were surrounded by a joke with no punch line in the middle, just a hole. We found ourselves enclosed by peripherals with nothing to grab on to. I felt my mind flailing for something to grab, for something to feel in my hands, something solid.
(Do Not Touch)
The dates. Grab the dates. They hold us steady and keep us warm and get me up in time and get me to places and lead to other dates which make an order of dates in a nice line dates are a tower of dates make a tower out of the flatness.
The room was nothing more than a wikipedia article. Granted, the author did a good job of pretending it was true and provided some excellent hyperlinks to other websites but after you click the link…Sorry this page cannot be found; there was surface but nothing underneath it other than itself. The numbers conspired against our drowsy minds and attempted to beat them with information until we shrugged and accepted it.
The huge worm was only an aged prop because we were told it was. The film only existed because we were told it was. The posters were only by whatshisface because we were told it was. The art in the gallery we went to yesterday is only…
But…then isn’t it only not an aged prop because we’ve been told it is?
Ow, my head.
I looked at the script, trapped behind the glass, all old and stained. It’s pages curled up towards me. We could read the first page and see the last page sticking out. I wondered how they stained it so well, I wondered how they aged it so well and then I wondered, do we only have the peripherals? There could be just blank pages between the first and last page. It could be, like the rest of the room, surface and no depth. There would be only one way to find out, to take it out from behind the glass, out of the imaginary, the subjunctive, the digital and virtual and into the analogue where we could remove the binary and touch it.
We went upstairs and the further we went the more the film broke at the seams; it’s wax melting away until all that was left was a skeletal score running through the centre of a room full of black boards. It’s remains written in chalk that, if I wanted to, I could brush away and reduce the whole thing to dust.
I didn’t though, Imagine if I did. That would be hard to explain.
“I’m so sorry, I was trying to be poetic”.
But really, there was no skeleton either, there was only a prop worms head with nothing inside it that was made in 2013 or something.
Yes, I know you’re probably not allowed to take pictures and I’m sorry but I wasn’t even there anyway.
On the way down again we dropped into the second floor and saw a man, you know the type, sat with his legs crossed, arms folded and hand on his chin. The perfect pose of an intellectual. We wondered, did he know it was all fake? Would ruin the joke for him if we told him… and telling him what he already knew, as if we knew more than him, would be a bit rude. Was he the only one drunk at the party? Did the rest of the room know he was drunk but were too polite to correct him? Was he wandering around looking at things convincing himself that the room wasn’t spinning?
We left and were reminded of the materiality of words, of their function as signs, as a pointing mechanism, and the fact that, sometimes, the sign can hide an absence. Like a Big Mac or an apple or a beer. Then we were reminded that we were hungry. And thirsty. Then we drank a sign and I googled something.
Lustfaust do apparently perform sometimes…Huh…Right.
If you’re in Manchester, go and see the exhibition. If you’re not, don’t bother, it’s not real. I’m just part of a viral add campaign for the Cornerhouse. Half the tweets on here are just a mixture of bots and actors anyway and, let’s be honest with each other here, I’m not even real. Go on, touch me.