For Becoming Invisible Ian Whittlesea has produced an instruction manual and visual primer that draws on the literature of Rosicrucianism, theosophy and esoteric yoga.
His text describes a technique for disappearing from view by first splitting light into its constituent parts and then reconstituting the seven colours of the spectrum to form a glowing white cloud that envelops its creator. A copy of the book will be available in the gallery for visitors to study. Thus, potentially, anyone can achieve the goal of becoming invisible.
At one end of the space a video shows the directors, staff and interns of Marlborough Contemporary as they follow the breathing patterns and visualizations described in the text. Intent upon their exercises they exhibit an intensity and focus that blurs the line between still and moving image.
Accompanying the video and book is a series of paintings that are simultaneously an aid to performing the visualization rites, representations of an altered state, ritual object and diagram. Like much of Whittlesea’s work they engage with the inherent mysticism of conceptual and minimal art. Alongside them is a quotation from the writings of the alchemist and scientist Sir Isaac Newton, a painting of the number seven (a number that is of special significance for the invisibility ritual) and silhouettes of a figure – the artist himself – demonstrating the correct posture for the exercises.
Ian Whittlesea was born in Isleworth, UK in 1967. Becoming Invisible continues his interest in the use of text to instruct and transform the physical and psychic state of the viewer. It follows his translation of Yves Klein’s Les fondements du Judo and, in its presentation of arcane material, is closely linked to his recent work Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture, for which he recreated, illustrated and republished the breathing exercises that Johannes Itten taught his students at the Bauhaus.