Lying through white teeth

My cousin is visiting with me for a couple of days, and since I ran out of ideas for sightseeing after one day, yesterday found us sitting in a bar and me forcing him to lie to the camera; this is the resulting video. You will note that it says “01” which is indicative of my ambition of making him lie some more. The next time I’ll set the audio levels lower.

[x_video_embed no_container=”true”][/x_video_embed]

Delusion? Grand!

Most of my projects are solo acts. Attribute that to my inability to work with other people or poor personal hygiene if you will, but I do occasionally try to mix things up, as with Guilty Guilty Guilty a couple of years ago, and again with To whomever more recently. I’ve been mulling over another idea the past months, and right now I can’t do much more without involving other people, so please consider this a casting call for your participation!

I want people to briefly tell the story of how Mateusz saved their life. These stories, three to five minuts long, accompanied by pictures and documentary material, will be printed in a tabloid magazine dedicated to the subject. The publication will be bilingual, so the original language in which the story is told doesn’t really matter, as long as I can get some help translating it into English (or Swedish, and I’ll do the English).

If you know of someone who is good at coming up with stories, I’d appreciate it if you would convince them to participate. I think that the stories will be better if you tell them of this assignment in your own words, rather than have them read my description. They are allowed to be anonymous or use an fake name, and if they don’t want to have their face published, that can be worked around.

I’d like you to take their picture and record the audio of their story, using a cellphone or whatever is at hand. It is the story which is important, and technical quality is secondary.

The resulting magazine will be printed by a commercial tabloid printer, in a limited print run. The prints will be numbered and signed, and if it’s feasible I’ll handprint parts of it as well. Everyone who is included in the tabloid, or has helped making it, will get a copy.

While living in Karlstad I ran a weekly hour-long radio show named Siberia. In one of the episodes I had convinced a friend to pose as a member of a local criminal organization. It was all made as if I was clandestinely recording our conversation, and he was frightfully good. He was so convincing, and was so good at improvising answers to my questions, that I had to break the recording a couple of times cause he was too intense. The experience of having a convincing story told to me which I 100% knew wasn’t true, is still vivid in my mind, and this project is a further experiment along these lines. Using myself is the only way I can be certain that the stories are made up — barring advanced somnambulism on my part — and thinking of Mateusz in third person will make it easier to edit into something coherent.

I’m fascinated by people who — knowing or unknowing — are spinning convincing narratives. Those people make for good story tellers and liars, two moral sides of the same coin, and I’m profusely jealous of their ability. And having people so gifted speak on the same subject, I’m curious in how convincing the manufactured mass delusion would be.

The reason I want people who are not my immediate friends to do this is because with one or two exceptions, they are only slightly better liars than I am, and would make for effect instead of story if they were presented with this. Also, their story might relate to me instead of Mateusz, which would be no good at all. The stories don’t have to be positive, but they do have to be about Mateusz saving their life.

Knowingly being deceived is part of civilised society. As a social function, it is a polite convention which allows us to get by in everyday life. But once we start to acknowledge these known unknowns and act upon them, we can get stuck trying to find our way to something more “real.” By buying into a compelling narrative we can escape the digestive tract of scepticism the natural way: Having pulled ourselves out the ass we can start to believe what we say.

There’s a PDF you can download with some instructions and photos below, but you are not obliged to use it in any way. It’s intended as a help for prompting whoever is telling the story; Although, it’s my experience that those good at making up stories need very little prompting. Download the PDF by clicking here: Mateusz_saves.pdf

Thanks for your attention and I hope you’ll consider participating!


I tried to distill the motivation I have for The Boy with Half a Pinky, and arrived at these three paragraphs:

A project to measure the load-carrying capacity of text, an attempt at outright lying without speaking falsely and an illustration of automatic, biological narrative.

How far can one stretch the imagination to accomodate for ones beliefs in the face of contradictory (or inconclusive) evidence, and what is the quality of succesful propaganda (both the quality of the propaganda and the quality of our reaction to it, as well as the mechanisms that bridge the gap between what is presented and our internalisation of a message)?

Where exactly are you lost in the transition between presupposed understanding (unselfreflecting knowledge) and the rest of the world?

The galleries webpage is located here, where you’ll find more info about the exhibition.

Work in progress…

I’m working along the lines of the title The Boy with Half a Pinky and this photoshop is one way to pull it off.

Here’s the idea, as it is:

* The boy with half a pinky is an image of a young man sitting and smoking and looking slightly miserable. It’s blurry, except for the hand that holds the cigarette & which doesn’t miss any digits. Looking at the other hand you can’t really tell, because of the angle.

* What would be the point of this?

* This might look like an excercise in stearing the viewer, but it’s such an obvious point to make. Look, if I tell you that an image is about one thing, you’re gonna interpret or at least look at the image in relationship to what I’ve told you. And if I lead you on by saying something that either is

1) not verifiable
2) not verifiable & an outright lie

You’re not going to get anything true out of looking at the image, and it might actually make your perception of the image, and thereby your grasp on reality, slightly more false than you’d like. Of course, we’re constantly reminded of that others lie to us, or are otherwise not in a position to communicate anything un-false to us (how few and far between are the experiences of understanding, anyway?) and maybe we’re aware of this well enough.

* Basically, the above line of reasoning could lead one to believe that I’m just taking a piss and want to annoy any viewer, while at the same time creating an argument based on the falsehood of images and making a Descartian demon out of myself; An imbecile sitting by the roadside giving false directions to passersby, chuckling under my breath.

Ugh. But maybe that’s good enough? Or maybe good isn’t the right word to use. Maybe it’s plausable enough? The good part might come in if someone gets anything from looking at this while it’s hanging in a gallery, eat a breadstick and between munches says “uhm, this was nice. I’d say it’s even good.” That’s where the good part comes in?

I can’t seem to stear clear of the obvious trap here – I tend to treat what I’m doing as riddles that I have to reverse-engineer in order to figure out the true meaning of. Darn it. Darn it to heck.

One way to make clear that this image doesn’t matter in the slightest is this:

The second image is a heavily rasterised version of the one on the left. You can’t really make out any details unless you back a few steps away. Both images are made up of smaller parts – they’re stapled to the wall, taped with duct tape on the back, i.e. not being cared for very much.

There’s something fun about putting so many hours into a work that you finally decide to staple the shit out of. This might actually come as close to release as I’ll get on this side of legalised prostitution.

* Just had a smoke break with Mark, and he asked me the unwelcomed question I don’t see what you’re getting at, especially with the rasterised image.


So, what we end up with are a bunch of negative descriptions; Things that i’d like to point out that are wrong, but without offering an exit or a way out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since I just need to offer a way in, but, well, anyway. Nevermind. I’ll just prep the image for printing (it’s gonna come out on four sheets) and go home and eat soup.

Soup is good for you,
Soup is good for me,
and when you eat soup together
the company is free.