â€‹al-che-my noun: the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir.
Alchemical is not a show about chemistry. It is not a show about photographic abstraction or manipulated photography or the obsolescence of photography as one more useless modern technology. It is not a show about photography at all. Rather, it is a show about an impulse to visualize radical, quasi-mystical transformation, to turn economic depression into inspiration, stagnant politics into heroic mobilization, environmental disaster into cleansing reordering, dirty coal into light lithium. Short-circuiting the usual channels of science,technology, and expert knowledge, Alchemical looks instead to a cloudburst, an explosion, a strange light, to enact cathartic transformation, viz., the creation of a universal elixir. Viz., a miracle.
Alchemical offers no solutions, explanations, rationalizations. It does not wish to â€śreach outâ€ť to, â€śmove forwardâ€ť through, or â€śthrow downâ€ť any particular set of current problemsâ€”the days of rational science, enlightenment idealism, corporate strategizing, and utopian convictions are over. Best hope for a lightening bolt, a golden ray, a glowing goat, just as the millions flocking to churches, playing the lottery, and tuning in to TV shows about vampires and psychics have learned to do. Change is inevitable but one might as well envision it positively, spectacularly, lead-into-goldly. Be wary of stocks, real estate, retirement plans, Rothkos. Trust only intuition and black magic to get you where you need to go.