Paper Presentation – The Inner Space Exploration Unit
In May 2020, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, Judith Noble convened an online conversation between a group of artists working across a range of media. Noble, along with Dominic Shepherd, Evie Salmon, Ethan Pennell and James Riley discussed how the experience of lockdown was affecting their inner worlds; how had this introversion influenced their imaginal landscapes? The group discovered overlapping interests, methodologies and began to experiment with shared sequential-experiential practices as a way of mapping their intersecting inner territories Gradually these inner realms generated an uncanny common ground. As work continued, the group chose to conduct their activities under a collective label: The Inner Space Exploration Unit (ISEU). That the acronym ISEU became, phonetically, ‘is you’ was an additional point of significance not lost on those involved. Taking its cue from the alchemical legacies of Surrealism, particularly its perambulatory and cartographic trajectories, the ISEU’s work could be described as a group ascent of Mount Analogue. Each artist seeks the keys to the personal landscapes the mediumship of the group brings into view. This presentation will offer an introduction to the ISEU and the work of the group’s initial phase, 2020-21. Emphasis will be placed on its attempt at a return voyage. At various times during its movement through physical and psychic space, the group brought spirit presences back into this world. These presences were made manifest through the ISEU’s collaborative processes and included an enigmatic fixture from a 1960s postcard, otherworld presences from the folklore of Dartmoor and the shade of Boris Karloff, amongst others. Such presences have variously acted as guides, tulpas and tricksters. Some of these transmissions were intentional, others occurred by way of a ‘veritable occultation’ of conscious intent. Either way, a door was opened. This group talk reflects on such conveyances and documents the keys involved.