Forever Not England / London Review of Books

One of the highlights of last July's Alchemical Landscape symposium was the presentation by Rod Mengham and Marc Atkins. They delivered a piece based on their current project Fields of England. A resonant collaborative effort of text and image, Fields of England provides an interrogative cartography of the manifold spaces that exist under the seemingly clear heading of 'field':

We go into fields we have known for a long time, and others we just know about, but have never seen: battlefields, minefields, deserted village fields, fields undersea, gathering places, burial grounds, places of execution, places where treaties have been signed – but this is a list of field-genres. If we have learned one thing, it is the limitation of genre. There are as many genres as there are fields. And almost as many Englands.

Rod has recently added a text about the project to the London Review of Books blog. 'Forever Not England' also carries one of Marc's images, (a portrait of Sutton Hoo, Suffolk) and comes complete with the 'must-read' tags: "archaeology | brexit | england | history".  You can read it here. See below for images from the symposium.

Upcoming Event: The Alchemical Landscape II

Image: James Riley

We're pleased to announce The Alchemical Landscape II: Screen Media, Occulture and the Geographic Turn. 

This will be held at Girton College, University of Cambridge on Thursday 7th July, 2016. 

Further details and the final programme can be found at the 
Symposium II page.

The Other Side

Bishop James Pike 
I'm very happy to announce 'The Other Side: An Audiophonic Séance'. Working with Evie Salmon under the Alchemical Landscape banner, we've had the pleasure of collaborating with Jo Brook of Bad Timing to bring together "a night of dead formats, traces, sites and spectres from the underground". 

The event features a series of acts and performances connected via a shared interest in the mediumistic power of recording technology: 

Evie Salmon & James Riley performing 'Dust'
bad timing djs: mix tapes from the underground

We'll be holding the event at the Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge on Thursday 12th May, 7.30pm. 

Tickets are free but places are limited. Please reserve via eventbrite:

We're also inviting you to consider a £5 donation towards performers' travel costs. 

For more information, see the Bad Timing website and scroll down for details of each act. 


Howlround is an ongoing exploration of the possibilities of magnetic tape as a creative medium for electronic music. Their live performances and compositions are created entirely by manipulating tape loops of natural acoustic sounds on vintage reel-to-reel machines, with additional reverb or electronic effects strictly forbidden. Their fourth LP Tales From the Black Tangle was released at the end of 2015 and was a dark and compelling concoction of industrial sirens, foghorns, seawash, ship to shore distress signals and even the creaking of a Broadcasting House microphone cradle in need of some oil.

'Uncanny, mesmerising, difficult and sublime' The Quietus

Documents is a nascent development of the long running creative occult project English Heretic. Documents has been set up to explore a remit of ethnographic recordings from the imaginal world. Combining the aesthetic of Bataille's surrealist journal Documents with the hermetic psychology of James Hillman, the project represents a deepening of the themes laid out by English Heretic. Documents first broadcast was released on the Eighth Climate imprint in December 2015.

Documents will perform two pieces. "Music For The Execution Of Geoffrey Firmin" An imaginary séance for the tragic protagonist of Malcolm Lowry's Under The Volcano abstracting dialogue from the film adaptation of Lowry's book to achieve rapport the spectre of Firmin. "Last Broadcast at Boleskine" manipulates field recordings taken at the cemetery overlooked by Aleister Crowley's notorious Loch Ness home. These recordings, carried out on the 1st December 2015, anniversary of Crowley's death, shortly before Boleskine House burned down, constitute music to precipitate the violent demise of an abode on the borderland. Together these pieces explore landscape, film and documentary dialogue as a form of theatrical EVP.

Evie Salmon and James Riley work across multiple faculties at the University of Cambridge. They co-direct The Alchemcial Landscape, an ongoing research and public engagement project looking at occulture and geography.

'Dust' is a speculative investigation into the afterlife of two lost recordings by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Spoken word, archival murmurings and dead formats.

bad timing djs mix tapes: experiments from the underground


A note on the image above: Bishop James Pike (1913-1969) was an American Episcopal Minister, one of the first to make regular television appearances. Following the death of his son in 1966, Pike began to experience paranormal phenomena. In 1967 he appeared with the medium Arthur Ford as part of a television seance to contact his son. These experiences formed the basis of his book The Other Side (1969). Philip K. Dick based the character of Timothy Archer on Pike when he wrote his novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982). 

Pike and his book will not be directly referenced on May 12th, but for obvious reasons his symbolic life has informed some of the thinking behind the event. 


High Rise + Q&A with Producer Jeremy Thomas & Yvonne Salmon

Cambridge Picturehouse, 
Saturday 12th March, 6.00pm

We are delighted to welcome renowned producer Jeremy Thomas for a Q&A
with Cambridge University's Yvonne Salmon following this screening.

"The brutalism begins with the architecture and extends all the way
down to the residents." - Variety

"The kind of cinematic madness we desperately need." - The Independent

"Serves up an orgiastic mayhem on a silver platter." - The Telegraph

J. G. Ballard’s dystopian novel about society disintegrating within a
giant tower block is brought to the screen by the maverick
writer-director partnership of Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley (Kill
List, Sightseers). Awarded his biggest budget yet, Wheatley ushers on
board established stars and ace production designer Mark Tildesley (The
Constant Gardener, 28 Days Later). Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston), an
affluent new tenant of the titular high-rise, quickly attracts the
attentions of neighbour Charlotte (Sienna Miller) and then of Helen
(Elisabeth Moss), who happens to be married to the socially stratified
community’s resident troublemaker (Luke Evans).

As tensions build, the brutalist tower that its architect (a supremely
laconic Irons) imagined would be “a crucible for change” gradually
descends into anarchy in this great-looking, darkly hilarious drama.

To book your ticket to the event, click here:

Black Mirror 2: Elsewhere

Black Mirror 0: Territory

Our friends at the Black Mirror Network are preparing volume 2 in their publication series. See below for their circulated Call for Papers. 


"We are now seeking written contributions for the next volume in the Black Mirror series: Black Mirror 2 – Elsewhere. This volume will examine  how the inner world of visions, spirits, dreams and magic has been explored by contemporary and modern artists, film makers and other cultural practitioners (1900 – present day). Contributions which cover altered states, trance, dreams, visions, hallucinations, entheogens, magical ritual, shamanic practice, the ensouled landscape, the spirit world, and related themes in relation to artistic and cultural practice are welcome.

We are seeking written contributions about the work of artists and cultural practitioners (please note that we are not seeking purely visual contributions or contributions from artists writing about their own work at this stage). Eventual contributions should be between 4000 – 7000 words. If you would like to contribute, please submit an abstract of not more than 400 words to: to arrive no later than 15th February 2016. We will select contributions and notify successful contributors by the end of February. The deadline for receipt of full contributions will be 13th May 2016. All contributions will be peer-reviewed. The intended publication date for Black Mirror 2 – Elsewhere is October 2016.

The Black Mirror series is produced by the Black Mirror Research Network, which is a partnership between the Arts University Bournemouth (UK), NYU Steinhardt (US) and publisher Fulgur Esoterica. The network exists to explore the relationships between contemporary and modernist arts and the occult, esoteric, magic and enchantment. The editors of the Black Mirror series are Robert Ansell (Fulgur), Jesse Bransford (NYU Steinhardt), Judith Noble and Dominic Shepherd (both Arts University Bournemouth).

Black Mirror is recasting the model of the traditional academic publication. Our volumes have very high production values; we emphasis the examination of visual work and so publish in full colour with extensive images and illustrations. Each volume includes portfolio and other visual contributions by artists. Contributions are licensed from contributors and ownership is released back to them after a reasonable period of time."

For more information on the Black Mirror Network, see their website. Their brief bio can be seen below:

"The Black Mirror Research Network is a partnership between the Arts University Bournemouth (UK), NYU Steinhardt (US) and publisher Fulgur Esoterica. The network was founded in 2013 by Associate Professors Judith Noble and Dominic Shepherd (AUB) and Robert Ansell (Fulgur Esoterica) to examine the relationships between contemporary/ modernist arts and cultural practice and the esoteric, occult and enchantment. In 2015 we were delighted to welcome NYU Steinhardt, in the person of Professor Jesse Bransford, to the partnership. The network is an international project with members from across Europe and the US. We are currently working on the third in a series of peer-reviewed volumes and are preparing a bid for research funding in the UK. Black Mirror has curated one live arts event (Absolute Elsewhere 2014) and will curate an exhibition in the AUB in 2017."

Folk Horror Revival

Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies

The Alchemical Landscape very much recommends the new book from Wyrd Harvest Press, Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies

"Featuring essays and interviews by many great cinematic, musical, artistic and literary talents, Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies is the most comprehensive and engaging exploration to date of the sub genre of Folk Horror and associated fields in cinema, television, music, art, culture and folklore. Includes contributions by Kim Newman, Robin Hardy, Thomas Ligotti, Philip Pullman, Gary Lachman and many many more. 100% of all profits from sales of the book will be charitably donated to environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by The Wildlife Trusts."

You can order a copy for the book from Lulu.


Over at Residual Noise, James Riley has posted 'Ghosts Everywhere', a short essay about canals, Susan Hill and borderlands. It's something of a partner text to the earlier post, Horror Story.