Ben Jon Miller
Created and directed by Ben Jon Miller
Performers: Ben Miller, Kayle Karbowski, Krister Larson, Zach Hill
Performed at the exhibition Reunion, curated by American Fantasy Classics. Hosted by Usable Space gallery, Milwaukee, WI, 2015
Photographed by Krister Larson
The following is a letter of intention written to the performers:
Essentially, I am treating this performance as a magical ritual. Magic is a flashy word for something that, by my definition, is a quite ordinary part of the human experience. To me, magic is a word used to describe the process in which a person’s consciousness observes what they perceive, responds to it, and then creates an effect that is in accordance with their conscious or unconscious intentions. It’s the process by which we alter reality and we’re all doing it. We’re all doing magic all the time.
We place our attention upon some manifested or imagined qualities of life (happiness, sadness, a chair, a relation, a memory, a physical sensation, anything) and by giving it our attention, we sustain its presence in our life. A simple example is that the longer you look at a chair, the longer it will be in your life. In the same way, the longer you hold any given quality in your attention, be it in your imagination or the physical world around you, the more present it becomes in your life.
Enacting this process intentionally is when it can really start to feel magical--and fun! Essentially, the process entails having an idea of a desired result and then doing something to create that result.
For this performance, my desired result is to invoke a being called Augoeides. For other people, this might mean actually trying to summon some sort of creature or being’s body into the physical world so that they can talk to it, receive wondrous messages from it, or even eat a hot dog with it at a baseball game. For me, the character being invoked is a symbolical container for the qualities I associate with it. I do not intend to summon a flesh-and-blood being. I intend to activate, within my mind and my experience, the emotional qualities I associate with that being.
I could do this by writing those qualities (i.e. happiness, acceptance) on a piece of paper and then staring at those words while I contemplate them. But I enjoy being a bit more theatrical about it, in order to make the process juicier, more fun, and more effective.
Augoeides is a character that is often said to represent the guardian angel. The term “guardian angel” tends to make me cringe a bit. I prefer a less common, less dogmatic interpretation of the Greek word that is translated as “the Glittering One” or the “the Self-Glittering One”. Augoeides is a flashy name that I use as a container for the idea of my ideal self. Augoeides is a radiant, shiny, glittering, cool, calm, and joyful potential version of myself that I can imagine and inhabit when I feel I’ve been invoking a version of myself that leaves me feeling like a turd on the side of a rotting weasel’s behind in a heap of trash.
Invoking a character is a means to intentionally place my attention upon the qualities of life I would like to experience. This will be my focus for the performance, adding the bells and whistles to increase its potency and enjoyability. However, it is not too important to me that the performers, the curators, and the viewers have the same idea about the performance. Especially for the viewers, it is not even necessary that they know anything about these intentions. My intention is to create something juicy, but each person’s tongue will likely find a different flavor in that juice.