In the Christian bible, ‘Transfiguration’ denotes Christ’s glorification on the mount (Mt. 17.1-9, Mk 9.2-8, Lk. 19. 28-36). More usually, the term refers to a marked change (or crossing-over) of one form into another. Within the context of [The Pictorial Bible and The Aural Bible series], the form (that is, the pre-compositional material which is subjected to a process of conversion) comprises texts drawn from the Judaeo-Christian bible, principally, while the resultant ‘transforms’ are visual and audible artefacts. The objective is to produce, what Mia Mochizuki has termed (with reference to seventeenth-century Netherlandish tradition of Protestant word-based decoration) an ‘anti-image’: one that is shaped and delimited as much by Judaeo-Christianity’s theology of God’s invisibility and aniconicism, and the exigencies of scripture (as understood by Calvinist exegesis), as by formal and abstract visual values (John Harvey, The Bible as Visual Culture: when text becomes image (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013) 183.
The concept of transfiguration has been one of the dominant methodologies underlining my work since the beginning of The Pictorial Bible series, in 1999. That series was conceived as a trilogy, and concluded in 2015. When I return to painting, following the completion of The Aural Bible series’ trilogy, it will not be as it once was. But that is the only thing of which I’m certain. For now, sound = paint:
The First Day (Gen. 5.1–5) oil on board, 70 × 70 cm (2007)
When Christ was transfigured, he became radiant: ‘his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light’ (Matthew 17.2). Moses’ face had shone on his return from the summit of Mount Sinai. He had been in the presence of God for forty days (Exodus 34. 29–35). In some ways, it was like having been exposed to intense radioactivity, but without harm. In Mark’s account of the narrative, the writer adds: ‘his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them’ (Mark 9.3). I like that last phrase, particularly. It earths the transcendental moment. A fuller dyed cloth. Christ was white beyond what anyone could have achieved using bleach. White is the colour of heaven and the presence of God; and that presence was disclosed momentarily when Christ parted the curtain to reveal the fullness of his divinity. In the tradition of icons, the radiant white of the transfiguration was transmuted, by a theological and symbological alchemy, into gold. Therefore, for gold read white. Whereas, in the icon, white pigment denoted the light of this world; gold connoted a super-light: variously the light of God, a state of blessedness, and spiritual illumination made resplendently physical and sensual.
8.45 am: As is my routine, I laid out the accoutrements in readiness for the day ahead:
camera, ‘the Black Notebook’, dictaphone, pen,
keys, wallet, phone
These black objects will be deposited in a black bag with a black lining, and promptly lost therein. I enjoy black to the extent that I’ll put up with pretty much any inconvenience.
9.00 am: A column of unopened emails rose like the Tower of Babel, heavenwards. A demolition job began. 9.45 am: Off to School. 10.15 am: Then on, courtesy of the Garrett-Mobile, to the Old College to haggle over additional space for the burgeoning postgraduate contingent. The ‘Spaceman’, Mr Macey, introduced Mr Garrett and I to some of the old chemistry labs. One still had what looked like scientists’ Lego and … an oscilloscope. Oh!! (Love at first sight.):
A successful shopping trip. In the end, we were on the way to securing both rooms. 11.00 am: Back at homebase, the people of the world had begun reconstructing the tower of inbox in my absence. More dynamite.
12.00 pm: On to writing a brief overview of the various chapel-based presentations arising from The Talking Bible project. This will be used to promote the projects to radio broadcasters.
1.30 pm: A disrupted night’s sleep was taking its toll. I dozed for 15 minutes after lunch. If I’d allowed myself to sleep, I would’ve lost half the afternoon. So, I balanced precariously (like a tight-rope walker) on the threshold of unconsciousness, between two worlds. In this condition, ideas have presented themselves out of the blue; and consoling, felt memories (as distinct from visual memories), associated with experiences long ago, have arisen spontaneously. They’ve been so vivid that, for all the world, it seemed as though I’d returned momentarily.
2.15 pm: Studiology. Why do I get so excited when new patch cables arrive in the post? I removed the temporary, over-long connections and replaced them with the new cables. [LOUD]: ZZZRTTT—K. (‘Turning up the monitor speakers to maximum volume wasn’t a clever idea, John!’) Agreed. The sound system was thoroughly tested, once again. Next, the three records representing the Gospel accounts of the cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21.12–17, Mark 11.15–19, and Luke 19. 45–48) were marked up to identify where the narratives were on their surfaces:
7.00 pm: Further acclimatisation to the sound system. I need to develop certain dexterities pronto. There was a need to split the signal to the two loopers in order for both to have separate, switchable paths. Running two loopers into one wasn’t sufficiently open to possibilities:
But even minor changes can be resource intensive. More patch cables were ordered. (Something to look forward to excitedly, I suppose.)
I felt a weight that wasn’t mine upon my soul.