Illusionaries Presents: Memoirs of a Dead Poet – Illusionaries, London

Reviewer: Adam Stevenson

Creator: Arash Irandoust

Memoirs of a Dead Poet is a three-piece art installation by Arash Irandoust and presented by Illusionaries, a new gallery dedicated to digital art.

Describing itself as “the UK’s first story-based multi-sensory art experience”, Memoirs of a Dead Poet takes the viewer through three chapters. The first, ‘Epilogue’, is a room with wraparound projection. The second, ‘Before the Meaning Comes’, is a mirrored room with projections happening on one wall but being reflected around. It’s a bit like being inside a kaleidoscope. The third, ‘Primordial Gardeners’ is in a room covered in stones, with only a small arch projected upon it.

Given the title, the font used and the location close to Deptford, it’s not unreasonable to expect the story to be about Christopher Marlowe but it’s something far more nebulous.

The first room features a PS1-looking2 graphic of the poet who eats a fruit and is set upon by huge, fat monstrous men led by one who seems to have nipples on his clavicle. Other monstrous creatures include a lamp riding a horse made out of scrotums, a man with a black hole for a face and a baby spouting fire from its chakra points. The room ends with images of death and destruction.

The kaleidoscope room features noodley, spaghetti shapes which morph into little amoeba and tardigrades before evolving into fish and then people. These people are made of cut-outs, with hands for hair and trains running through their mouths. It’s very Gilliamesque. This room ends with the poet being reborn as a bird.

The third room presents a sort of paradise with trees filled with ears and thorn bushes decked with eyes. The music is light and cheerful with a choir singing, as opposed to the doomy drone of the first room and ascending strings of the second.

While it’s clear there’s a samsara, birth and rebirth element to the piece, reinforced by the knowledge given at the beginning about Irandoust’s time as a Buddhist monk, the claims to story are a little far-fetched. What the audience is presented with is a series of peculiar and imaginative images, combined with sound and presented in a series of interesting and different rooms. While there’s a slight narrative thread through the piece, it couldn’t really be defined as a story, which is a pity. It is, however, a striking and memorable experience in an interesting space.

Runs until 24 September 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Dazzling, but a weak story

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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