SPIRITS SPEECH AND SPOOKS

Except of Performance Lecture, Spirits Speech and Spooks, Fall 2015

LECTURE SCRIPT

 

“Yes. I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing -- I was born with the "Evil One" standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since." - 1893 H. H. Holmes 

 

THE LECTURE:

DEFINE “Serial Killer”: a person who murders three or more people. 

Now when I say “serial killer” I don’t think of Hitler or Bin Laden…police officers or soldiers. I think of the hulking freak who skins girls in a pit in his basement. 

“Serial Killer”: a person who murders three or more people. 

And these “people” I don’t know their names…So the question is who is immortalized? The victim or the murderer?

 

October 10th 2015 List of Items I decide I need in order to make contact:

-One Ghost Box

-Two Flashlights

-Reading Material

-Camera, Tripod

-Face Paint

-Glasses

-Halloween Candy

-Note book and pen

-Iphone Ghost Hunter APP

-Fake Blood 

(All concealed in a shopping bag)

 

THE SETTING: 

In 1893 during the Chicago Worlds Fair H. H Holmes killed an estimate of200 people in his “Murder Castle” basement. His confession, which was published a week before his death listed his reasoning as: “I was born with the devil in me.”

Chicago Illinois October 10th 2015 H. H Holmes “Murder Castle” remains are located 7.3 miles from where I live. I know this because I am obsessed with this story. I read the books and online material. I tell it around campfires to scare children. I embrace the ridiculousness of it all. And that skepticism rules my practice. But what would happen if I abandoned that? If I wanted in my to have an authentic experience.

How does it feel to read murder victims names off a page?:

Dr. Robert Leacock 

Dr. Russell 

Julia Conner and Pearl Conner 

Minnie Williams 

Nannie Williams 

 

THE EVIDENCE: 

I came across an old evidence log: Police research in the Holmes castle led by Detectives Fitzpatrick and Norton, brought to light out of the ashes of a stove some evidence of how the police believe the Williams sisters met their death. 

There were discovered:
A woman’s shoe, charred on the instep and at the toe.
Two human ribs, one partially consumed.
Metallic bar of a small hand satchel, such as women carry.
A bottle of carbolic acid, partly empty.
Several pearl dress buttons.
An ink bottle, supposed to have belonged to Minnie R. Williams.
A bit of dress goods, found sticking to the inside of the stove.
Some fine hair, caught in the stovepipe hole.

Today, there is a post office that sits in place of Holmes castle. I sit in an abandoned lot behind this place. I am in some sort of disguise, it is the only way I can feel safe in front of the unknown meaning: I don’t actually need glasses to read. I surround myself with Holmes confessions, 27 of his confirmed victims. I read each out loud, one by one. I asked each one to join me, but I won’t be able to hear them until I play this recording later:

Who is speaking here? and what kind of speech is this? 

8:49:31 = Whose Next?

8:52:05 = He Forced Her…

8:53:35 = Well She

8:54:36 = Paid For Her Sins

8:56:09 = Well…

9:00:13 = Well…To get what I wanted

9:09:13 = Dad?

9:11:09 = Patience…

9:12:51 = Patience…Sinner

9:16:15 = Rose!

9:17:15 =  Warned her…kids

How does it feel to hear the victims speak?:

8:49:31 = Whose Next?

8:52:05 = He Forced Her…

8:53:35 = Well She

8:54:36 = Paid For Her Sins

8:56:09 = Well…

9:00:13 = Well…To get what I wanted

9:09:13 = Dad?

9:11:09 = Patience…

9:12:51 = Patience…Sinner

9:16:15 = Rose!

9:17:15 =  Warned her…kids

 

“It is being named that allows the other to speak, to come into its own as an autonomous agency.” - Steven Connor

 

Howard, Nellie and Alice Pitezel 

Charles Cole

Sarah Cook

Mr. Rodgers of Virginia 

Lizzie

 

During his last interview before he was electrocuted in 1989, Ted Bundy reportedly said “We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.” (Jennie Bard - Skeptoid) 

As I am reading names off paper my flashlight begins to flicker in and out, causing me to squint and lean forward. I am too aware of my surroundings, constantly interrupted by trains bellowing over my head. I wonder if these distractions effect the way we are communicating. I wonder if i’m “doing this right.” 

 

“A voice is an event in time, something that happens to us, even happens on us, in a way that an object presented for sight is not, the experience of hearing something with ones own ears is much more importunate and encroaching than seeing it with ones own eyes.” 

 

Can we really be having a conversation if I can’t understand you? How can we engage if I only know what you’re saying later on, in my bed, with all the lights on and the covers up to my chin?  Ideally I wouldn’t want to bring you home with me, hear you over and over again as I try to decipher your phrases

8:26:12 = Theres Something Not…

8:33:27 = Its all soon

8:34:18 = Stop

8:35:36 = Save Me

8:37:44 = Who Says?

“A voice without an origin, which is usually to say, a voice immune to the powers of the eye and the categorical cognitive functions associated with it, will emphasize the power of the voice as utterance and effect over against its associations with presence and intention.”

As I press on through names I come across something strange when I say Pearl Conner. Without hesitating I swear I can hear the name Pearl projected back to me from the box below. Startled I abandoned my script, I figured this was what I had been waiting for, this was what I had wanted. A true interaction. 

Dr. Robert Leacock

Dr. Russell

Julia Conner and Peal Conner

Mr. Rodgers of Virginia

Lizzie

Emeline Cigrand

Minnie Williams

Nannie Williams

Benjamin F. Pitezel

Howard, Nellie and Alice Pitezel

Charles Cole

Sarah Cook

Rosen Van Jesen 

Unnamed Victim

“I am convinced that since my imprisonment I have changed woefully and gruesomely from what I was formerly in feature and figure. My features are assuming a pronounced Satanical cast. I have become afflicted with that dread disease, rare but terrible, with which physicians are acquainted, but over which they have no control whatsoever. That disease is a malformation or distortion of the osseous parts…My head and face are gradually assuming an elongated shape. I believe fully that I am growing to resemble the devil andthat the similitude is almost completed.” - 1983 H. H. Holmes 

 

THE FUTURE: 

In 2015 H.H Holmes will be the main inspiration for Evan Peters character in the new American Horror Story on TV. In 2016 Leonardo DiCaprio will also be playing Holmes in a new thriller film for which he will hope to finally get his academy award.   

 

What was my intention during this? To capture spirits speaking on camera or to feel something that I so often push off as meaningless superstition? To play with language as a malleable object that transcends if I open my mind to it? I want you to take what you will from this. Does my access to spiritual events through western eyes change the outcome? What does it mean to make “contact” with a 90$ spirit box I purchased online? What does it mean to you that you are listening to a recording of a recording on a laptop? Could you hear the spirits talking without subtitles? Or did my chosen text form the structure of this interaction? Do you believe me as I stand here dressed as the stereotypical devil? Do you believe me?

Site Specific Research Excerpt for Performance Lecture