Swallowing the Pill: An Instruction Manual


Craig Foltz


Some claim that objects exist in their own separate universe. Others say that there is something appealing about breaking down into simpler compounds. Still others are no good at following instructions.

The kind of instructions I’m talking about do not lead to any particular outcomes. The actions described within them, if any actions exist, are abstract in nature and may not result in any tangible activity. Verbs go missing. Nouns dominate the scene. Descriptors ensue.

In the event that any clouds appear in the sky, document them with a photograph. The two of them, under the moon.

Full disclosure: I’m more partial to creating instructions than following them. Good instructional material needs a sturdy framework — a spine for instance —a sequence of nerve endings radiating out from some central, yet unmapped, vortex.

I have none of these things. Like the rest of my contemporaries, I’m formless, morphing from one shape to another. The human body, some would say, is thematically overdetermined.

But, I digress.

The act of sharing instructions is like sharing a piece of yourself. It’s like passing along a sacred text.  In this one, civilisation is nothing more than a collection of not-so-symbolic assignments.

I recently sat on a remote beach in New Zealand tracking Elon Musk’s satellite train as it charted its course across the sky. Soon, these instruments will be beaming our instructions outward. Our way of making meaning will become everyone else’s way of making meaning. We will inflict our hex codes onto far away constellations.

When we blink, our eyelids transmit web pages.

When we relax, our bodies sag into nothing but edges.

When we communicate, we tell one another than an object is more than a thing with four sides. Take this word for instance. You know the word I’m thinking of, it rolls around behind the back of the tongue, waiting for the rest of us to get in the mood.

A line of abandoned satellite dish arrays crown the cliffs in the background.

Nothing lasts, because we are slowly moving back in time. If we manage to get to a certain point in the past we will need to reset. Because of this, we develop an uneasy relationship to the marriage of form and function.

I have a specific assignment in mind for you to complete. In it, the ocean becomes little more than a collection of signs, symbols and gestures. When we sway, we do it in a way as if we have something to prove.

Let me set the facts straight (You remember facts, right?). 

Fact #1: We’re partial to the assignments which delve into simple objects from our past. The clasp from a favourite belt. A rectangular box where marbles were stored. A large wooden frog with the word Aruba carved into its back.

Fact #2: Decomposition is the only process which we can ultimately share.

Fact #3: In some instances, the theme itself produces a disjunctive version, cobbled together by aggregators in non-descript parking garages.

Fact #4: There is no such thing as a non-descript parking garage. Precious metals dissolve when submerged in specific liquids. 

Fact #5: Content creators thrive in the narrow phyla of shysters, scammers and ne’er-do-wells.  

Fact #6: I’ve created enough content to cover the globe many times over. I’ve slept during the day. I’ve spilled the beans without the assistance of torture. I’ve looked into the eyes of an instructor and said, “Are you picking up what I’m putting down?”

Fact #7: Our arms are grouped together, linking one another across many different objects. Most good narratives involve a sequence of related events, dynamic interaction points. You might recall your previous form as suffering from a sort of double displacement. On the one hand, its physical bearing resisted representation. But on the other hand, the mediated version was little more than a transitory creature, projectivist in nature. In the end, all one can ask for is instructions that give them purchase with the ground.

Fact #8: Aphasia, for instance.

Fact #9: Work that does not follow the specifications will not be posted.

Fact #10: Dear Reader, Are you still with me? Are you still able to connect the disparate dots that appear in the fabric of this constellation? Perhaps, like the rest of us, you have simply wandered off for awhile and are only just now circling back? Or maybe you’ve been transmitted, unknowingly, out into outer space, travelling the pathways of the divine.

Craig Folz for Gallery Faux, February 2021

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