I am inventing you as you are

Ed Atkins


O let me forever weep


and so determine to stay here with you, lying together


on the sheet of corrugated iron


before dinner.


I am inventing you as you are is the culmination of a body of work concerning the term ‘depression’ in its various nounal and verbal forms, and how these might describe a way to go beyond and beneath flatness.


Beginning with the coincidence of depressed mental states and analogous, downward-motioning physical processes, the work seeks to engender a depression to dramatise and repeal flatness.


The synonymic complexity of the word ‘depression’ that the work seeks to imaginatively navigate will determine the narrative structure of the work; the act of depressing describes both an inward and a downward trajectory. As far as possible, the work will follow this descending direction and subsequently operate in a lowered register: a site that is beneath or below the flatness it annulled. This place – the context of the work and its diegesis – might be understood, similarly, as the site of depression: the lowered emotional circumstance where the depressed symptom is played out and made manifest; the location from which the depressed individual might perceive the flat terrain above and the slate-grey sky stagnant overhead.


The flatness that is depressed – both physically and affectively – is to be understood in several sometimes contradictory ways.


Firstly, in parallel with the depressive mental state: a kind of catatonic inertia, featurelessness – where nothing is differentiated from anything else and is presumed vacant; where nothing whatsoever matters.


Secondly, as a similarly un-differentiated terrain where, conversely, everything matters and matters similarly fully. This flatland of non-correlative and networked agency and effect, where the hegemony of the individual – be they author, leader or victim – is eroded to a state of total equivalence. In one account this equivalence is positivised as a situation where privelege and imbalance are eradicated; in another, it is a situation without ethical nuance, politics or discretion.
Depression might also perform a paradoxical connection to flatness. The catatonic depressive is symptomatically flattened into non-correlative relation – it is a state that provides unique access to this otherwise impossibly distant plateau. However, the depressive – with fist balled and thumb erect – also performs the role of absolute abject correlation. The world – the universe – orbits the depressive’s negative presence; their singular, internalised state drags them to subterranean, alienated discretion and, at the same time, creates huge, gaping craters in the flatness. Drama appears and verticality re-emerges from the super-massive black hole at the heart of this apparently frail depressive.


And it is fucking churning with ironic self-annihilative purpose


The central motif of the work is that of the pollice verso – the ‘turned thumb’ – whose 180-degree rotation would confirm condemnation or offer reprieve in ancient Rome, and whose declaration of human supremacy through opposability and its cultural repercussions is, here, employed DOWNWARD, |


into the soft sod,


the clay,


the torso,


the mattress.


‘I am inventing you as you are (baselessness)’ was curated by Ed Atkins as part of the ‘Flatness: Cinema after the Internet’ thematic programme for Oberhausen Short Film Festival 2013.