Offline Ghost Spaghetti

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The Chapbooks
« on: January 17, 2014, 01:52:43 PM »
This is where I'll be posting a series of short stories set in the same universe as The Book to celebrate this new FES. Opinions and criticism are welcome, but please do it here.


In the Eye of the Beholder

The Tate gallery, how Elaine Cornwall had dreamed of seeing her work proudly displayed from these hallowed walls when she started learning her craft all those years ago. Now she watched, drunk more from the pride than the complimentary champagne, as the cream of the British art scene swarmed in front of a piece bearing the name of her pseudonym, Tintagel. The exhibition was a celebration of British digital artists, usually the butt of sneering dismissal from the mainstream contemporary art world, and the way in which the virtual and real worlds revolved around one another. Damien Hirst’s piece, The Absurdity of Death in an Endless Place, was the true centrepiece of the exhibition, but her own work was leaving its own not insignificant impact.

Making the Dream was a collection of photographs from the space race, Alexey Leonov’s first space walk, the meeting of the Gemini spacecraft, the Apollo thirteen disaster, each subtly retouched to add in little props to suggest that the pictures were faked – wires to create the illusion of freefall, the shadows of microphone booms, a helmet not entirely closed, scuffs on the ‘soundstage’ walls, none of them noticeable at first glance but turning into a ‘spot the difference’ game for the attentive viewer. Elaine watched with a wry smile as esteemed critics of the art world tried to hide their delight at spotting a new inconsistency.

One viewer stood scrutinising her piece far longer than any of the others, standing four feet from the canvas with his hands folded behind his back as carefully and as crease-free as the rest of his coal-black suit. Eventually, his unwavering and clinical evaluation of her pictures began to unsettle Elaine. She was used to eccentrics within the art community and sometimes the collectors could be worse than the oddball artists who made money from their public image. Eventually curiosity got the better of her and Elaine crept around the side of the mystery man and tried to be subtle in trying to read the stranger’s name badge.

“You could just ask.” He said, making the young artist jump. She stammered and tried to apologise for intruding on him. He smiled and handed her the ID card from around his neck.

“It’s blank.” She said, turning the laminated card over in her hands. Her eyes flicked around for security, this blank man was beginning to seriously creep her out.

“Perhaps you call for security you should ask yourself three questions: Firstly, who would pay to come into a private exhibition like this with no identification? Secondly, how much would paying for anonymity cost? And finally, what interest would somebody with that much money have with your art?” He said, taking the blank piece of plastic back from her unmoving hands. She stood mute for a moment before the primal call of ‘money’ hit her like a thunderclap, mystery man or not, if he was interested in buying, Tintagel was interested in selling. “Ah, that’s better. These pictures fascinate me, ‘Tintagel.’ In this picture, for instance, the reflection of the lighting rig and the shadow of a studio hand are interesting photoshop features, but I have a feeling that the wires holding comrade Leonov up aren’t the result of such crude photo manipulation. Am I right?”

Elaine blanched, what did this blank man in an immaculate Italian suit, this, this… ‘Blanko’ know about her work?  His dark eyes bored into hers and Elaine found herself wanting to jam her eyes shut to stop him scrutinising her as much as her pictures.

“It isn’t photoshop, I use a combination of image altering software including…” Blanko held his hand up and cut her off mid-ramble.

“The wires were already there, you just used photosh—a range of image-altering software to bring them out.”

Elaine frowned, was this man rally trying to suggest that couple of scratches on a sixty-year-old photograph were really wires from a studio? She felt the tightness in her shoulders release as she realised that the man was clearly a nut, he’d probably swiped a blank pass off the security desk when he snuck in. Since she didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger, she decided to play along.

“Oh yes, that was the inspiration for the piece, to be honest, to see whether anybody would be able to tell the ‘real’ anomalies from the fakes. Congratulations.” She said with an oh-so sincere smile.

“Don’t patronise me, Miss Cornwall. I know that you don’t believe that you’ve found anything genuinely unusual – nevertheless, you have a good eye, and my employers are interested in offering you a job”

“I have a job.” She said, raising her chin, “I’m an artist and in case you hadn’t noticed, a fairly successful one.”

“Please.” The Blanko drawled, “The only reason you’re getting any attention is because the gallery has been sponsored by a profligate IT company with delusions of artistic adequacy. Ordinarily, you make barely enough selling prints and reproduction rights to maintain a studio flat on the outskirts of London which is used as a cash cow by an uncaring landlord.  To even get the flat in the first place you described your career as a ‘web designer’ and forged references from a fictional development company. This is the most important exhibition of your life and yet you’re attending it in scuffed shoes, cheap nylon tights which you’re hoping nobody can see the ladders of and a dress which is the victim of an end-of-season sale.”

Elaine stammered defensively, trying to come up with something slightly less lame than ‘I’ve only worn the shoes twice.’ When no deadly witticism was forthcoming, Blanko resumed:

“I’m in a position to offer you a job making sure that people as clever as you are don’t spot… anomalies in our images and videos, a ‘continuity consultant’ if you will. In exchange for signing a secrecy agreement and working at one of our offices when required, we are prepared to offer you an annual stipend of two hundred and fifty thousand, plus any necessary expenses.”

“T-two hundred and fifty… Who are you? Hollywood?” She gibbered, her mind reeling from the offer.

“Hollywood takes real events and makes them fiction. Our job is to take fiction and make it reality.” Blanko reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a business card, blank apart from a phone number in tiny silver writing. “One offer, one chance. When you’ve thought it over, give us a call.”

Tintagel stared at the silver numbers, sure that if she looked away they’d disappear. When she looked up again, Blanko had.


Offline honk

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Re: The Chapbooks
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 03:49:37 AM »
This was a great series.
ur retartet but u donut even no it and i walnut tell u y