Raising the Ordinary to the Extraordinary (Erika Manuscript #2)

When I finished the Grey Book of Hours and made it public I talked about it with some people and the phrase ‘a book for a book’ came up. It got me thinking. I decided that it would be nice to match book with book – three manuscripts, all with their own distinct character, to illustrate the transition from the word to the moving pictures. All of them held together by the fandom at which I will look from three different angels.After I established in the first manuscript the idea that a fandom is very much alike a religion with the creators in its center, in the second I decided to focus on how a word of those in that center has, because of their position, the power to raise the ordinary into the extraordinary. A mention of one of those ‘worshipped’ can wash money into a charity’s coffers, it can shed light on things that might go forgotten or would be overlooked, it shapes tastes and opinions, it can even make or break a project or a career.However, this power of the word has also peculiar results like thousands of shares of/ unconnected comments on the greatest negligibility just because it was uttered by someone in that center position. Take Erika’s photos on Instagram and Twitter. Not that they are negligibility, but they are nothing special per se as far as photos go. What makes them special is that they despite their normality gather thousands of likes and the most diverse and unrelated array of comments in all kind of languages.

What’s that you’re reading?”
“It’s about cryptography.”
“Like secret messages?”
“Not secret. That’s the brilliant part. Messages that anyone can see but no one knows what they mean unless you have the key.”
“How is that different from talking?”
“Talking?”
“When people talk to each other they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you are expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do. How is that different?”
“Alan, I have a funny feeling you’ll be very good at this.” [Alan and Christopher in The Imitation Game]

It’s the blossoms of the bizarre I chose to illustrate. They made me think of a 15th century manuscript – the Voynich. Carbon dating suggests that it was created around the same time as Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights – the number of this painting is the entrance code to the underground garage of Escala – and it is at least as hard if not harder to decipher. In fact, it is written in a so far unbreakable code and many of the illustrations contain plants that do not exist. And yet, 200+ pages of vellum and the colors would have cost a fortune no one would have simply wasted, especially not as the notion of l’art pour l’art, of just doing something because you can and want like I do with these manuscripts, only developed centuries later. So, just like with the comments and likes that seem unconnected, it has to mean something if we just find the right key.

Thus I combined illustrations and writing from the Voynich with 98 of Erika’s photos featuring the most diverse collection of glasses and bottles and cups and some plates in just as many pen and color pencil drawings. The result is strangely, nonsensically beautiful and interesting and weird and crazy – it really raises the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s like a long and ongoing party where the best things are consumed and creativity flows freely. It’s like fandom with a lot of wine, funny ladies and their plumbing.

The idea will only be complete once I found a way to auction the manuscript (hopefully then signed by Erika) off for charity because it then covers all aspects of the ‘power of the word’ thought. It will happen. For now, without going into more of my ideas behind this, let me raise the ordinary to the extraordinary for your pleasure. A big thank you goes out to Rachel, Sara, and Jennifer, who in our little DM group kept me motivated by cheering even the smallest daily progress. You guys rock.

 

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