The Ghosts of Senate House is one part of a creative research project led by Sarah Sparkes. It serves as an archive for uncanny, apocryphal stories emanating from Senate House. These stories formed part of "a Magical library for the 21st Century" an archive of writings, recordings, artwork, artefacts, and other contributions, which was first shown at the University of London as part of The Bloomsbury Festival October 2011.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Goetia of Senate House by Magick Concrète.

About Magick Concrète

Magick Concrète is a collaboration between Andy Sharp (English Heretic) and Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor), the moniker a word play on "real music" - extending the concept to the practice of reel-to-reel magic. Combining interactive pilgrimage, with the subsequent and ceremonial manipulation of found sounds and narratives.

The Goetia of Senate House by Magick Concrète.

A shared aural experience of people who visit or work at Senate House is a howling sound, heard in various areas of the building. For Magick Concrète's contribution to The Ghosts Of Senate House project, we will attempt to investigate the imaginative significance of this phenomenon, drawing together Renaissance theurgic philosophy, the use of oral history, archetypal readings of the genii loci, and avant garde tape processing practices.

When first told of the phenomenon what immediately connected with us, was its relation to the word Goetia. Goetia is a form of medieval spirit communication, etymologically, it is speculated, derived from the word 'to howl'. On the surface, and somewhat glamorously, Goetic theurgy purports to practice the summoning of a host of 72 spirits, though a more subtle reading of the system suggests that these spirits are all around us, and conversation with them is less achieved by direct invocation, than communication, apprehension of, or simple noticing of their presence.

In many ways rapport with the spirits of the Goetia relates to conversing with the genii loci of a given place. The genii loci, a term from antiquity, is traditionally considered to be the protective spirit of a particular building or environment, though a more open ended interpretation, might be to consider it the governing atmosphere. Less a deity, more a collection of feelings, intuitions and experiences of a place.

The Goetic theurgist would attempt to capture these spirits in brazen vessels and the grimoires describing this form of magic gave instructions for the fashioning of these receptacles. The analogy with the genie in the lamp of Arabian lore is no coincidence; much of the practice being disseminated in folklore by the tales of the Arabian nights. For our project we will use modern recording media as the means of trapping the genii loci – if one considers a tape recorder to be a technological analogue of the genie's lamp, then the metaphor is obvious and natural.

The legions of Goetic spirits speak a language that is pan-cultural; in other words conversing with them is a means of identifying archetypal experiences. For our practice we will use oral history evidence to create sound recordings which we will process using the techniques of musique concrète to create what we hope is an aesthetic yet tangible spirit of Senate House. Senate House itself as the instrument through which the genii loci communicates.

Our results will be presented in concrete form as a sound installation housed within a listening apparatus – a means for the listener to hear and intuit their own sense of the spirit of the place.

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