Coined by sci-fi writer Rudy Rucker in his 'Transrealist Manifesto', transrealism proposes a method of writing without synopsis and in which the speculative grows out of the everyday surroundings and movements of the writer. The transrealist narrative must thus take its outset in the known world of the writer and from that starting point unfold organically. A tale starts in the ordinary everyday world and from here it can freely transform into the purely speculative and weird. The writing is done without final destination, only with certain direction and perhaps a few key scenes in mind. That does not mean that the narrative should be without structure or plot. No reader will want to read that. In the manifesto the method of accomplishing this open narration, culminating in the coherent, is described as follows: 'The analogy is to the drawing of a maze. In drawing a maze, one has a start (characters and setting) and certain goals (key scenes). A good maze forces the tracer past all the goals in a coherent way. When you draw a maze, you start out with a certain path, but leave a lot of gaps where other paths can hook back in. In writing a coherent Transrealist novel, you include a number of unexplained happenings throughout the text. Things that you don’t know the reason for. Later you bend strands of the ramifying narrative back to hook into these nodes. If no node is available for a given strand-loop, you go back and write a node in (cf. erasing a piece of wall in the maze). Although reading is linear, writing is not.' (1983)

This process of maze drawing reflects processes, methods and experiences within my own artistic practice: the disorienting experience of working labyrinthian and the peculiar craftsmanship that goes into finally locking such mazes into place forming coherence; the nervous part, when nothing seems to lead anywhere, even as the paper starts to fill out; the setting off from a point in contemporary everyday life, a scene within this socio-political moment in time unfolding, towards a navigational structure completely unknown, untaught, a can kicked down the road; and then, as the structure takes form, to loop determined reflection back into what were initially undetermined openings; and perhaps finally, wind up in new critical coherent narratives. A transrealist approach to artistic practice, if one will. With the transrealist approach to artistic practice, and in this case to artistic research as well, the revolutionary potential of transrealism is highlighted. Rucker goes on to state that 'a major tool in mass thought-control is the myth of consensus reality. Hand in hand with this myth goes the notion of a normal person.' (1983) In the way that knowledge, research, historical narratives and existing key figures are bend and re-narrated within my artistic practice, it does somehow form a chorus to Rucker’s idea: 'There are no normal people'. (1983)

Transrealist writing is not just about letting the speculative take hold and go the way of the abnormal, the transrealist approach rather echoes the writing maxim write what you know, and is therefore more of an exercise in staying within the known world of the writer. This known world of the writer ultimately include the writer herself and the world she inhabits; and the speculative evolves from the state of that lived life. It forms a very intimate space from where one can start the distortion of consensus reality. The genre of Science Fiction is a primary field for this type of writing since it 'is usually fiction detached from the known, aslant to it (and often askance, sidelong, questioning and questionable).' (Broderick, 2000)  Damian Broderick emphasises the way in which the transrealist approach to writing not only skews reality but a certain intimate reality as well. In the writings of Philip K. Dick and Rudy Rucker, he finds this intimate relationship especially outspoken, noting that '[I]t is perhaps no accident that those writers most readily identified with transrealist fiction […] do indeed write what they know, because the world(s) they inhabit are skewed and subverted in advance. Dick especially was a man plagued by the unreality of the visible, pestered and perhaps nearly broken by intimations of psychosis, which he managed miraculously, most of the time, to translate into dazzling art, even as he transformed the kitsch of his Californian world.' (2000) The unreality experienced daily by this science fiction writer makes the transrealist endeavour almost simply realist, since the two realities were already mixing into one. In his 'Science Fiction Encyclopaedia', John Clute describes Dick’s writing as one that not only expresses his own intimacy, but really shapes a mirror to an intimacy within ourselves: 'In all his work he was astonishingly intimate, self-exposed, and very dangerous. He was the funniest sf writer of his time, and perhaps the most terrifying. […] his dreads were our own, spoken as we could not have spoken them […]' (2023) The way transrealism, and the transreality it shapes, unfolds a condition of the close acting alien, somehow describes our postmodern condition, but it may also as Clute suggests, 'open[] a window on a fresh way to compose our experience in a time when human and machine, the known and the conjectured, the richly experienced and the coolly posited start to blur and flow together.' (2023)

I would propose that this close and intimate transrealist approach, does not necessarily have to have this form of autobiographical quality, for it to take off from within the realm of the known. Instead of circumstances revolving around one’s own self and the people and environment surrounding this, I think of a transrealist approach that takes off from a known condition. A feeling, an atmosphere, that one experiences as one’s own but that can be wrapped around environments and narratives outside oneself. In this way the dread experienced by a team of stockbrokers, in a transrealist account of such, is really formed out of the dread I feel myself in the relation to finance as an obscure brutal force. In this way the transrealist approach can also take shape within a research project, as a field or space one makes known and experiences from a certain intimate condition, and from here is pushed beyond reality.

Research for me somehow chimes with this description of the transrealist approach to writing. It may on the face of it evoke certain dissonance with the idea of research, in how it quite frivolously treats the ‘factual’ as playground for the speculative. But if one were to consider seriously the obvious and documented ways in which certain structuring factors of our consensus reality are in variating ways built on manipulation, exclusion of certain narratives and at times completely fictional creations, the idea of a transrealist re-search is not such a disharmonious notion. Perhaps, an imaginative and speculatively playful approach, to the histories, categorisations and distribution of worth upheld by certain authoritative structures, is truly needed. Not as a post-truth advocation - far from it - rather an opening up of a space in which we can again ask relevant questions to the structuring of the society that surrounds us.

The ‘re-’ in research echoes exactly this idea of going back into what has been manifested as an official account and search again for what might possibly have happened and how this resonates with what has been registered or dictated. And in this re-search unfold other potential readings, either from perspectives that has formerly not been taken into consideration or from re-imaginations that enable completely new perspectives to emerge. Furthermore, the intimacy of this transrealist approach brings in an intuitive, experiential and emotional aspect that could possibly free such authoritative narratives from their cold, rigid and fossilised holds. The speculative re-search is again not a search for answers, or even correct questions, but a search for new potential spaces for questions and new searches to form. A crucial way in which I believe artistic research can play a part in the creation of such spaces, and why I hold on to transrealism as a methodology, is the way in which artistic practice has the ability to leave a space open for others to finish unfinished thoughts. Not only in the sense of represented thinking and working processes, but really also in the inclusion of the intimate and the experiential. One of the most powerful abilities of an art work or an art project is the way in which it can speak multi-vocally - materially, aesthetically, conceptually, politically, emotionally - and how the varying voices, in all their harmony or cacophony, form an array of combinations for different spaces of interpretation, experience and imagination.

Art in this way invites the visitor to experience and develop, in one and the same invitation. It invites us to reflect but does not provide a full image of what is to be reflected. Furthermore, the space that art is situated in, and the situation of the receiver, also speaks into this reflective multi-vocalisation. In this same way, Henk Borgdorff emphasises how 'research in and through artistic practices is partly concerned with our perception, our understanding, our relationship to the world and to other people. Art thereby invites reflection, yet it eludes any defining thought regarding its content. Artistic research is the acceptance of that paradoxical invitation.' (2011) Borgdorff describes the form of ‘unfinished thinking’ that artistic research invites us into, as one that moves beyond the making 'explicit the knowledge that art is said to produce, but rather to provide a specific articulation of the pre-reflective, non-conceptual content of art.' (2011) A pre-reflective realm that exactly opens up to the idea of research as a speculative journey, in which one searches anew through fixed narratives and concepts, in order to transform these into new open spaces for the possible finishing of unfinished thoughts to occur. This also makes it rather difficult to put into words exactly the form of space that the artistic work is said to open up. A generative evolving space that somehow evades the idea of a specific read or let along a linguistic description. Borgdorff again: '[T]he content of what artistic research investigates seems to elude direct access. It has an experiential component that cannot be efficiently expressed linguistically.' (2011)

The transrealist approach, in this light, becomes a way to approach specific content from new (intimate) perspectives and at the same time allow for the experience of such an approach to take form in the very result. The speculative mode must somehow include the experience of meandering, at times completely lost, towards the undefined. A meandering that must allow for non-conceptual openings in the maze-drawing, a nervous experience expressed through the speculative notion of its coming into being. And as these openings are looped back into the narrative strain, an experience of making coherence is similarly traced in the final result. The embodied experience of the transrealist approach is for the viewer potentially readable in the material as one’s own experience of meandering, getting lost and finding coherence or critically contesting where the expression and narrative leads. The transrealist approach and how it evokes a critical reflection space, in regards to where things lead, how it came to this point, what it might actually create and how this may have been intimately experienced, embodied in the actual result, reflects Borgdorff’s thinking on how 'the experiences and insights that artistic research delivers are embodied in the resulting art practices and products.' (2011)

In the way I have used transrealism as a methodology, it moves away from being merely a narrative tool and rather becomes a process of letting the narratively speculative merge with a speculative approach to materiality and aesthetics, ie. the treatment of temporality and time, as well as the forming of aesthetic audio visual formations. There is a certain performativity connected to this form of practice, wherein the speculative process of getting to a certain result is performed in the result itself and in its dialogue with a potential viewer. Borgdorff continues: 'In part, these material outcomes are non-conceptual and non-discursive, and their persuasive quality lies in the performative power through which they broaden our aesthetic experience, invite us to fundamentally unfinished thinking, and prompt us towards a critical perspective on what there is.'  (2011)

Letting a Scene Play Out
Using this transrealist methodology in practice, one of the methods I use is what I call ‘letting a scene play out’. In contrast to a more conventional approach to film-making, in which one would work from a written linear script, this scene is conceived of as a form of self-contained setting from which the work can grow. The setting of a certain mood or perhaps a confrontation. A meeting or even a gathering. This could also be in the form of an object or a location that in its own sculptural or referential way sets a scene. Just like transrealist writing takes its outset in the known world of the writer, this scene refers to a scenario known to the artist - one that has already occurred or one that has been said to have occurred, or one that is made up to occur and in its conviction becomes an occurrence - and intimately so in how a certain intimate condition, atmosphere or feeling have been recognised in this scenario. Whether the scene is of fictional nature or one that has transpire in so-called (political) reality, is not decisive. Both are treated as scenes that play out and hence take hold in the world as we/I know it. I consider one of my main artistic tools, to transrealistically let a scene play out in the form of some audio-visual representation. When I say letting the scene play out, I am not only referring to the enclosed going-ons of that scene, but a way of letting it spill beyond its own self-contained reality. In this way the scene is used as the instigator of certain flows of occurrences and compositions that move far beyond the narrative structure of a scene building up. What grows out from it is an extending landscape sprouting from temporal testing, evental excavations and meandering motifs. The transrealist aspect of this work is not so much in the writing of the transpiring events and the development of a dramatic narrative, but really in the emergence of weird atmospheres and temporal situations, as well as a mushrooming of networked ideas and visual offshoots that aim to broaden aesthetic experiences and invite for the finishing of unfinished thoughts. The kicking of the can down the road, does not only take into account where the can might land before its next kick (a transrealist method for narration), but really also the quality (temporal and emotionally) of the kicker, the boot, the very kick, the can itself, the ground it takes off from, its tumultuous travel through air and light particles, and the situation of anyone that might experience this kicking from an outside.

Mirror Reflection
The transrealist approach is used as a methodology for this research project, not only in the development of new artistic work but also in its reflective work. As methodology the transrealist approach has allowed for a certain fluidness in the way that reflections have unfolded parallel to practice. Of course this reflection, as mirror to an artistic practice, will always lack, trail, outpace, it will distort the actual time quality of the reflecting moment. The mirror is bent. It deflects and suspends. But it is also in this gap between the artistic process and the reflective endeavour that I see a certain potential for new forms of research taking place. In the uncanny realm of this gap, a reflective space is possible that truly respects the time-bent qualities of the artistic process. In such a mirror (think the Magritte portrait of poet Edward James, think Candyman (1992/2021), think REDRUM, think Through the Looking Glass, think Bruce Nauman’s Live/Taped Video Corridor) one may see a reflection of the thing held up in front of it, but that does not mean that the reflection acts accordingly to its maker. To linger within the space between the work and the reflection, this time-trailing gap, enables the potential to speak outside of chrononormative knowledge production and research that mirrors progress, and rather stay with the type of invested meandering that the artistic practice really excel at. The reflection will always be at least temporally awry from the artistic process and any attempt to capture this reflection will likewise always rely, in one way or another, on a form of language existing outside of the artistic topology. The extimacy experienced, when a language of the exterior is being forced upon the intimate core of the experiential sensation, for it to take authorised form in the world, leaves the artist, as well as the artistic researcher, always already subject to an authoritative other. With this in mind I have deliberately sought out ways to move into the very gaps and spooky movements of this mirroring with the hope of making it my own.

Transrealist Field Notes
Working with a transrealist methodology the work takes shape as non-linear, speculative and meandering. It does of course transpire on a certain chrononormative timeline of processes, happenings and productions (it does take shape in a version of consecutive time reality after all), but the processes involved with getting there become weirdly anachronistic, non-linear and difficult to trace. The research does not unfold in a conventional trial and error fashion. Nor does it set out to answer certain research questions; it rather uses such questions to generate more potential questioning. This challenges the way in which documentation of these processes, findings, turnabouts and thought experiments are collected and importantly brought into a linguistic realm. (I am overall suspicious of the role of documentation in artistic practices, not only because documentation is always in some way a manipulated registration; or the fact that I rarely document or even sketch out my own processes before the work takes shape - my practice sort of just exists without much trace of an in-between - but also because documentation in our tempor(e)ality is so closely linked to publishing (on SoMe), in a way that somehow makes the documentation always already product).

One must somehow embrace the idea of documentation as something that is traced out where it might naturally happen in the transrealist process, rather than following specific formats or procedures. If we were to consider the transrealist approach to artist practice as a certain intuitive and speculative travel through a landscape that takes form as it is being navigated, the very travel becomes its field. One could make field notes from within this field and let these serve as documentation. These would then be considered transrealist field notes. As notes from within the distortion and dismantling of linear time perspectives, meandering narration and speculative scenes playing out, a certain process of transrealistic temporality is brought upon these field notes too. It is now partly unclear when they came to be and from where they arrived, what precise moment in the artistic process they took form in and what their initial purposes may have been. As reflections they will always lack, trail, outpace, distort. Borgdorff asks: 'What kinds of documentation would do justice to research that is guided by an intuitive creative process and by tacit understandings? What value does a rational reconstruction have if it is far removed from the actual, often erratic course taken by the research? What are the best ways to report non-conceptual artistic findings?' (2011) The transrealist field note is a way to form a language around that which perhaps inherently should escape language. Yet it is still language and not experience and will therefore always form an unbridgeable gap between work and reflection; transrealist art practice and transrealist field note. If language remain, as Borgdorff concludes, 'a highly functional complementary medium to help get across to others what is at issue in the research' (2011), one must still take into consideration the potential that resides within the gaps that form between art work and linguistic formulations attempting to convey its content. A potential that easily gets lost because words have a certain hierarchical authority in the conveying of meaning - limited perhaps, compared to the mushrooming aesthetic multi-vocality of the art work, yet still apt to structure everything under its semantic composition. '[G]iven that the meaning of words often remains limited to their use in the language, a certain modesty is due […] in view of the performative power of [their] material outcomes' (2011), Borgdorff reminds us.

Unbridge the gap with horror
Horror fiction is another genre where transrealism immediately feels right at home. The most unnerving horror narratives are perhaps the ones where the tediously normal is gradually pushed beyond its reality. The more known to us the world, that the horrible suddenly manifests in, the more the experience of said horror speaks directly to us and our everyday experiential being. But the language of horror fiction may also provide a way to stay with words, while still embracing the before-mentioned gaps and the forms of experiential knowledge that resides within them. The strange temporalities and distorted reflections of the language of horror fiction could potentially be used to somehow (un)bridge the gaps existing within this reflective process between art work and reflective formulation. This use of horror language should not be considered as cement in-between uneven building blocks or a clever way to segue between these disparate realms of expression. Quite the contrary, this horror language is meant to highlight the presence of gaps and the (un)bridging quality of them. In the same way as horror excels at leaving us unknowing, for a contained limit of time, and hence enabling the potential of our own working towards knowing, so too are these gaps envisioned as potential spaces for thought to be worked up. I am convinced that these gaps have something to tell. As passages between expressions and experiences, information and reflection, or as the dark spaces in-between video channels in the installation space. Instead of working around the problem of the gap, the language of horror fiction teaches us to dive straight in; to work hard at creating such gaps, since what they really constitute are spaces for the viewer or reader to co-create/think. In this same way transrealism does not steer clear of such gaps, these are in fact regarded as potential liminal spaces for unexpected narration to occur. The experience of such gaps are differentiating in intensity. Some form welcomed breaks for reconsideration, others form abyss-like ruptures, floorboards stripped away, pitch black plummeting. Horror offers a language that readily accommodates such horrific openings.

An ethical question remains in this transrealist approach to artistic research. If this approach - and the research and art works of this artistic research project - is really about challenging, or staying within, that liminal space between reality and fiction, where does one then allow oneself to go in the pursuit of its narratives? How far? Revolving around a political and economic situation, where the very livelihood and security of citizens are left in a precarious and uncertain state, the intention of an artistic research project to engage with these matters through the highly speculative quality of transrealism and horror fiction, presents certain ethical considerations and problems. The way that these genres may be considered ‘unserious’ by many, perhaps deems them inappropriate in the discussion of very real political and social calamities and precariousness. To intertwine these truly disturbing political situations with outrageously disturbing fictions may be considered problematic. But conversely, it may really be a way to stay with the problem; to face it head on; to not only speak out about it, but really disturb the bounded language that surrounds it. I wanted, with this research project, to face the fact that one feels hurt and to maintain that the experience of said hurt can be shared without it falling into victimhood or the doubling down on already fixed narratives. The way that horror fiction avoids the abnegation of ethical responsibility and transrealism insists on the existence of narratives outside authoritative narration enables a power to speak politically – about exactly all those unethical elements that form the parameters of what we are persuaded to deem within or outside the ethically just.

Field Notes from the Gap
With transrealism as a methodology it might be possible to make field notes from within the gap between art work and reflection. The transrealist field note is an attempt to reclaim the field note, back into the non-chronological and weird processes of the artistic practice. A way to reflect from within a lost meandering position; to document imperceptible activity; to get across to others what one might not fully understand oneself. These field notes are in themselves speculative accounts; ‘weird fiction’ that one should approach with exactly the same caution to its claims of truth, as on should many authoritative written accounts and research results. But the way that these transrealist field notes are intimate at their core, might in fact render them far more honest to what truths could honestly be wrung from their topic of research.