Thursday 16 February 2017

Notes of Alignment. [1. ley lines]

Arnolfini is located in an alignment with The Library of Trinity College (Dublin), Bookseller’s Staircase (Rouen Cathedral), The Library of Alexandria; as well as a number of smaller peaks, mounts, cathedrals and sites of book veneration. We have called this line of alignment the Arnolfini Ley.

On March 1st we are starting a residency at Arnolfini, Bristol. We are super excited about that! Our Alignment project will focus on the sacred and ritualistic aspects of reading, though investigation into the theories of mystical and religious geographical alignments called leylines. We are researching Arnolfini's collection of artist's books, we will be producing artwork, a large scale intervention and talks to coincide with BABE2017.

Notes of Alignment will be a short series of blog posts which will cover some of the aspects of research: Alfred Watkins, leylines, land art, library as a sacred space, reading as a performative act, ect. 

 [1. leylines]

At the beginning of the 20th century archeologist, photographer and brewer Alfred Watkins coined the term ley line to describe avenues of alignment along which ancient natural and man-made monuments existed on a local scale in his native Herefordshire. Those trackways, according to him, marked the paths of human activity. Our neolithic ancestors created them as a byproduct of line-of-sight navigation: prehistoric people made their way across landscape in straight lines, as a result, standing stones, mounts, burial sites, holy wells, cairns, pagan altars are located as landmark points to keep travellers on course. The next post will look at his book "The Old Straight Track".

In 1960s the idea was picked up by mystic enthusiasts and ley lines became related to a wide range of phenomena: UFOs, haunted houses, drowsing, time slips, astral projections, vampirism, poltergeist, etc. The current New Age concept of ley lines is not dissimilar to Chinese feng-shui, German heilige linien, Nazaca lines in Peru: they mark concentrated energy paths, which envelope the world in a matrix of power lines, orientated to include Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, Easter Island, Puma Punku, Lhasa Tibet, the ancient ruins of Mohenjo Daro, Findhorn in Scotland, the Bermuda Triangle, the Arizona vortices, Angkor Wat, numerous obelisks, sacred domed structures around the globe and  intergalactic objects. For an informative overview of various  extraordinary approaches to studying leylines by Paul Devereux see Leys / "Ley Lines”  - an abridged summary of paper given at the "WEGE DES GEISTES - WEGE DER KRAFT (Ways of Spirit - Ways of Power)" conference in October, 1996, in Germany. 

Bill Becker and Bethe Hagens grid

Most of literature on ley lines is vague and unmethodical (and this an understatement). As a result, alternative more systematic and exciting projects can be found, for example, Tom Scott’s Magical Mystical Leyline Locator. Scott’s tool is based on principle, that a large number of randomly placed points will inevitably have some of them neatly aligned into a straight line. Not unlike constellations in the sky, it is human predisposition to infer patterns in a large sample of data, which produces the effect of leys. PLEASE TRY!

In regards to our Alignment project, it is the idea of aligned holy sites that excites us the most: the idea of religious ritual being performed in multiple points across the line every day, like an engine, producing a rhythm, reinforcing the time and energy flow, combining those disconnected locations into a system, giving it meaning and purpose. 



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