Turtle Mountain, 2012

Turtle Moun­tain, 2012

Digit­al video, HD 1920 × 1080 16:9
19:22 min (excerpt 04:17 min)
Filmed in South Alberta, Canada
Per­formed by Mar­cus Coates, Cam­era and sound by Mar­cus Coates
Pro­duced by SAAG – South­ern Alberta Art Gal­lery, Canada

Filmed near the sum­mit of this moun­tain on the fringes of the Rocky Moun­tain range in South­ern Alberta, Canada with The Rock­ies in the dis­tance and over­look­ing Old­man River a naked man enacts a ritu­al with the set­ting sun whilst anoth­er films him; both are played by Mar­cus Coates. Seem­ingly con­cerned with a spir­itu­al align­ment’ the per­former of the ritu­al is auto­crat­ic and impa­tient, fix­ated on the cor­rect way to con­jure this elu­sive exper­i­ence. The clichéd pro­ced­ures and ter­min­o­lo­gies of this spir­itu­al ritu­al reveal a nar­ciss­ist­ic human tend­ency to com­modi­fy the most basic experience.

[A naked man and a cam­era oper­at­or are on a ridge near the sum­mit of Turtle Moun­tain, South­ern Alberta, Canada, over­look­ing the Rocky Moun­tains and the set­ting sun.]

Spir­itu­al Align­ment Seeker: Um…
Cam­era Oper­at­or: Where do you want the cam­era, what about here?
Seeker: Um, OK, I’m going to stand there, OK, and then, just try and get the Shakra align­ment, OK? With me and the sun, as the sun goes down.

[Seeker walks out onto edge of moun­tain, he is naked.]
OK, I’m in pos­i­tion, OK, now! OK?
Cam­era: Yeah. 

[Seeker walks back.]
Seeker: This is just a test, OK?

[Seeker walks round the back of the cam­era to see the foot­age.] Seeker: OK, let’s play that back. [Pause while the video foot­age is replayed.] OK, that’s not, you haven’t got that in line.
Cam­era: What do you mean, not in line?
Seeker: The Shakra in line with the sun, my pubic bone and my belly but­ton, in between that, that’s the sac­red Shrakra.
Cam­era: Right.
Seeker: And that should be in line with the sun, that’s how I’m going to get harmony.
Cam­era: All right.
Seeker: Can you get it right this time? 

[Seeker walks back out to the edge of the mountain.]
Seeker: OK? To my right?
Cam­era: Yeah, a bit to the right!
Seeker: It would be easi­er if you moved rather than me.
cam­era: Bit more! 

[Seeker nears edge.]
Seeker: For fuck’s sake, all right?
Cam­era: That’s about it. 

[Seeker raises arms in a wor­ship­ping type pose.]
Cam­era: You’re a bit high.
Seeker: Move the cam­era down then, move it lower.
Cam­era: I don’t think it will go any lower, what do you want me to do?
Seeker: Just change the angle.
Cam­era: Then it will cut you off.
Seeker: Take it off the tri­pod then.
Cam­era: Then it will be all shaky. 

[Seeker scrambles back from the edge towards the camera.]
Seeker: For fuck’s sake, do I have to do everything myself? Just let me do it! 

[Seeker tries to re-pos­i­tion the camera.]
Seeker: Just put it down here or some­thing, oh god, um, just put it on the floor, this is rub­bish, the sun’s not there now is it? Um, oh shit, the sun’s just about to go, um…
Cam­era: Where exactly do you want the sun?
Seeker: I told you where the Shrakra is. It’s got to be all lined up, oth­er­wise it doesn’t mean anything.
[Seeker still adjust­ing the camera.]
It’s too dark [the image in the view­find­er], light­en it up, give it more tone, that’s bet­ter. There you go. 

[Seeker walks back out to edge.]
Seeker: Prob­ably have got a few seconds, well maybe a minute left [before sun sets]. 

[Seeker ven­tures near­er the edge.]
Seeker: I want you to get my whole body, because my whole body is part of the universe.
Cam­era: You’ve got to go to your right.
Seeker: There, is that all right?
Cam­era: You’ve got to get lower.
Seeker: What, crouch down?
Cam­era: Just a bit more? 

[The set­ting sun is now vis­ible between the Seeker’s legs.]
Seeker: That’s going to look a bit weird.
Cam­era: Bit more!
Seeker: I can’t find align­ment by crouch­ing down, I’ve got to be like that. [Demon­strates by stand­ing erect with arms aloft and out­stretched.] I’ve got to embrace the sun. I’ve got to be in line haven’t I. The suns gotta go through me, into my sac­red shakta, [cor­rects him­self] Shakra and down into the earth, I’ve got to find a con­nec­tion. I can’t be doing this [crouches down as if doing a shit]. It’s going to look stupid.
[Seeker walks to the edge and over a little.]
Seeker: I’ll go fur­ther down. 

[Sun now has appear­ance of shin­ing through Seeker’s arse.]
Cam­era: That’s better!
Seeker: How’s that?
Cam­era: That’s good, a bit lower.
Seeker: There?
Cam­era: Yeah, that’s good. 

[Seeker adopts his out­stretched posture.]
Seeker: Like that?
Cam­era: That’s good.
Seeker: I can’t hold this for long, no I can’t hold that, you try it, you couldn’t do it, um, well this is just shit, isn’t it. 

[Seeker walks back to the camera.]
Seeker: You’ve fucked it up, put the cam­era fur­ther back. 

[Seeker moves cam­era fur­ther back himself.]
Seeker: Put it straight like this. Are you doing audio?
Cam­era: Yeah.
Seeker: I don’t really want the noise of all those cars [aud­ible dis­tant traffic].
Cam­era: There’s not much we can do about it.
Seeker: They’re not really, you know, they are going to ruin it. I can hardly be at one when I’ve got all that car noise. We’ll put the audio on after­wards. We’ll get some moun­tain sounds and put that on afterwards.
[Seeker walks back out to edge.]
Seeker: OK, here we go, wooooah, waaaaa! 

[Seeker nearly falls over edge, recov­ers and repos­i­tions himself.]
Seeker: Is that all right?
Cam­era: Bit higher
Seeker: Bit high­er? About there?
Cam­era: That’s all right.
Seeker: Is that all right? Are you sure?
Cam­era: Yeah, that’s good.
Seeker: There?
Cam­era: Yeah.
Seeker: There?
Cam­era: Yup! [impa­tiently].
Seeker: Can I straight­en my leg, it feels a bit weird? One leg’s straight and one leg’s bent, I’ve got to find symmetry.
Cam­era: Why?
Cam­era: So that I’m equal. Har­mony, that’s what this is all about, straight legs, yeah?
Cam­era: Yup!
Seeker: Up?! OK, here we go. 

[After a while.]
Seeker: Is that working?
Cam­era: I think it’s all right. 

[After a while.]
Seeker: I think there might be some people com­ing, I think I heard someone. 

[Seeker starts slap­ping mos­qui­tos that are bit­ing him.]
Seeker: Fuck­ing moz­zies every­where. I want to hold it for about 5 minutes [the pose]. I think that’s how long it will take for the align­ment to hap­pen, for me to feel the energy, the sun has got to be at its low­est point, go through me and into the earth, and that’s the con­nec­tion of the ener­gies, and that’s, um, everything in align­ment, everything find­ing har­mony, that’s how it should be. 

[Seeker kills more mosquitoes.]
Seeker: Am I symmetrical?
Cam­era: You are slightly down on the right.
Seeker: I want it to come out more, like a halo. It’s sup­posed to be like the sun is part of me and I’m part of the earth and we are all in align­ment, and we have unity and har­mony, and the trees and the birds and the anim­als, we all live here as one. And there’s noth­ing between me and the sun and the whole universe. 

[Seeker slaps a mosquito.]
Cam­era: That’s fine.
Seeker: That’s align­ment, OK! That’s align­ment! I can feel the energy, the earth com­ing through me, the sun’s rays, all the way to the sun and back again, everything’s in align­ment, I can feel the power of the earth and the power of the uni­verse, everything is in align­ment. I can’t hold this for long, that’ll do. 

[Seeker moves back to camera.]
Seeker: Oww! [hurts foot.]
Cam­era: Are you alright?
Seeker: Yes, I’ve got to get some clothes on, these moz­zies are killing me. Well, did you get it?
Cam­era: I think so.
Seeker: I could feel it going through me, it was very, very power­ful, very powerful. 

[Seeker starts get­ting dressed.]
Seeker: One of the most power­ful things I’ve ever done. It’s very rare you find that align­ment, that unity with the uni­verse. That was one time I can say I found that unity. I’ve got that now. No-one can take that away from me. Have you seen my sock?
Cam­era: It’s just there [grump­ily].
Seeker: You’re not very spir­itu­al are you?
[Screen goes black, but con­tin­ue to hear the sounds of the moun­tain, there’s no con­ver­sa­tion.]

The Spir­itu­al Align­ment Seeker is played by Mar­cus Coates

The Cam­era Oper­at­or is played by Mar­cus Coates

(Tran­script excerpt)

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