‘LPT BNB GDD LGN JPN’ is the first in a series of films about a Lilliputian explorer of domestic settings, inspired by Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. This short film and miniature installation was made for an exhibition called ‘Journeys’, which was part of the Hastings film festival, Shot by the Sea, in July-August 2008. It was first shown with a few other works (at Claremont Art Space No. 12, Hastings) as an installation consisting of a tiny video screen, a miniature table, and a ridiculously small chair to sit on while watching my explorer’s adventures in the bathroom, culminating in his discovery of the plug hole. Made with a combination of stop-frame model and digital animation.
The title derives from part III of Swift’s book, ‘A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg and Japan’, abbreviated to resemble international three-letter airport codes. In ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (and to 18th century Westerners in general) Japan was almost as much a fictional country as the floating, antigravity island of Laputa and is described in similarly exotic and uncomprehending terms. The places Lemuel Gulliver visits are all warped reflections of where he has come from- his home country- rather than places with any meaningfully independent existence. All places we have never been to are similarly fictional, and our ideas about them tend to say more about where we’re from than about the realities of those foreign countries. Sometimes the places we visit even stay fictional after we’ve been there.
The audio is derived from digitally restored and processed wax cylinder recordings of the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and of my vaguely quasi-namesake Aleister Crowley*, who was a dedicated mountaineer when he wasn’t busy with his occult “wickedest man in the world” duties or destroying himself with drugs. Shackleton and Crowley sounded eerily alike to me, and both were explorers, so I put them together. Shackleton was a much better reader/public speaker, though, probably because he actually had some idea of what he was talking about and wasn’t just bullshitting. Crowley’s voice is monotonous and his Vogon-style poetry recordings are appalling.
* Actually Edward Alexander Crowley, he gave himself the Aleister pseudonym in the belief that a dactyl followed by a trochee was magically potent. When my parents named me, on the other hand, I don’t think they did it with the intention of making me a powerful wizard. Alistair, Aleister and other variant spellings are all Hibernicisations of the classical Alexander.