Ways the World Ends

print series - 2003

Ways the World Ends

The work presents predictions about how the world will end. One is from what we would consider a ‘mainstream’ source: an outline of what may happen in a few billion years by a couple of scientists who were reported on a CNN web site. Others come from sources that have a rather more meta-physical inflection. ‘The Bible Decoded’ is a much reduced version of a text that parallels current events with events described in the Book of Daniel and in the Revelation Of St John The Divine and projects the date of future events — the approach of the multitude to Zoar, the UN distributing food to starving people according to resolution 666, up to and including, the rapture, the return of Christ etc. The full, baroque, version can be found through putting ‘The Bible Decoded’ into a search engine and following the links. Terrence McKenna was a theorist, thinker and psychotropic astronaut — a sort of hard-core Timothy Leary — who was on a chemical, shamanistic, quest. His theories and visions became significant to a certain sector of the dance/ecstasy techno-teleological tribes a decade or so back, just before his death. Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Scientology and her prediction comes from 1910, whilst Zeta Talk is rather more current and is being channelled in the USA from a race of hyper intelligent aliens — the Zeta. The Rasputin prophecy may in fact be a fake: it is attributed to the Russian priest but why the Loch Ness Monster should play such a large role in his private cosmology remains somewhat puzzling.

Although it is easy to see most of these as a sort of intellectual freak show, each of these texts constitutes a truth for a number of people. The one by the physicists is the one closest to that which would be taught at school. ‘The Bible Decoded’ comes from a body of belief that certainly animated the Reagan administration of the USA — it’s pretty mainstream Jerry Fallwell wacko US Christianity — and is probably shaping actions in the current Republican administration. There is a case to be made that the American Fundamentalist Right Wing’s surprising support for the state of Israel - surprising as most of their mindset is classically anti-Semitic- is because of the requirement in Biblical prophecy for the re-building if the Temple in Jerusalem before we can progress to the second coming of Christ. The identification of the UN as being a tool of the antichrist can definately be seen to be shaping certain political outlooks. Tom Cruise believes in Mary Baker Eddy.

The events that each of the texts describe are of course unknowable. There is no possible contemporary empirical proof of their accuracy. Rather they are indicative of the way that texts generate possibilities and realities: and worldviews their own worlds. Here we have wildly varying descriptions of the same event; all of which jostle each other, destabalise, refuse to co-exist — although they can all occupy the same space and time. In this, ‘Ways the World Ends’ continues exploration, and celebration, of the mischevious anarchic ‘reality’ building processes of language, and the ways we model worlds and understandings and narratives explored in previous work ‘The Alternative History Paintings’ (1997) series used texts positing alternatives to historical events — The Incas beat the Spanish, Brutus didn’t do it , Brian Jones fired the builders— to generate alternative, fugitive, universes. The video ‘Various Things Explained’ (1998) used objects on a dining table; wine glasses, breadsticks, salted almonds, that were moved around in various configurations to describe wildly different things..How I broke up with a girlfriend, Marx’s theory of Surplus Value, how a nerve ending works. Lacan’s theory of desire and the persistence of the Meroviginian Bloodline….each object taking on a radically different function and symbolic role in each narrative. A recent work ‘A Walk up the Hill in Six Different Countries’ documents a dash through the Australian bush narratied by the breathless descriptions of the geographies of Utopia, Narnia, Shangri La and the Isle of Dionysis in a sort of immersive video game. Here, rather than history paintings, I like to think that maybe we have here the text versions of the grand apocalyptic narratives of Heironymous Bosch or John Martin. Descriptions (and therefore the generation) of events that we will never know. Unless, after all, one of them turns out to be ‘real’.

Richard Grayson 2002