Say Immanent Five Times into the Mirror
INT. HOTEL RESTROOM – NIGHT: A bright restroom with a number of sinks on a row, circular mirrors above reflecting a number of restroom stalls. The room is glossy lit and the whole scene has a porcelain feel. BROKER 3 bursts into the space. With the weight of the body the door is forced shut. Out of breath. Walks to the faucets, hands supported on the marble sinks.

BROKER 3    
(under breath)        
Say immanent five times in the mirror.


(Articulated and concentrated)
Immanent… Immanent… Immanent…

Face shifts, anticipating and anxious.

BROKER 3    
Immanent… (beat)… Immanent…
Nothing happens. BROKER 3 turns on the faucet, washes hands, grabs a towel from a rack and gently wipes hands. Digs out a set of AirPods from business jacket. Inserts them into ears, opens an app on the phone, a voice is heard.  BROKER 3 leaves the restroom.

Haptic Watching 1989
Watched and rewatched on VHS, moments from horror films did imprint itself not only on my memory, but arguably on a collective cultural memory. The haunting storylines of the films aside, purely haptic moments got imprinted on this collective body, as it experienced certain scenes from these films. Like the slicing of one achilles heel in ‘Pet Sematary’ (1989) really sat with us – physically in the spine, that is. A collective memory taking form, mostly narrated by the haptic experience of watching something felt on the body.

Haptic Watching 2019
Thirty years pass. I am in a cinema complex in the town of Bergen. Lights down. Shooting stars, ascending from right corner of the screen. Travel shot over water. The stars skips across the still water mirror, trailing a ripple in the perfect CGI, they lift and form a halo around the peak of a mountain. Here they freeze, imbedded in the dawning sky. Paramount. The sound of a forest at dawn – this I remember – a perfectly placed distant howling of some forest animal. Fade to black. Credits fade up. The font used already tingling at something deeply submerged in me. The text is cut out into the black mask and a forest landscape fills out the type. A straight angled traveling shot viewing down upon a dark forest. The letters spell out the title of this feature presentation. Pet Sematary.

The thirty year anniversary reboot of ‘Pet Sematary’ from 2019, functions, like most other horror reboots, mainly as an updated version of the same - created partly to spark a certain nostalgia in an older audience remembering the original from their youth, and partly for the teens with no such memory, to act as brand new horror flick, conveniently pre-conceptualised and tried in front of a test audience (thirty years prior). In the reboot process, a few initial errors may be corrected, as well - representation, language, stereotyping; all ‘fixed’ to meet contemporary representational standards. But there is something particular to the rebooting of ‘Pet Sematary’, that for me serves as a template for an idea I had about 'Rebootism' as a cultural marker for our contemporary tempor(e)ality. Reboots are proliferating in mainstream culture for two simple reasons: Firstly they have already done the focus group tests, years in advance and thus seem like sure investments and secondly due to a rising nostalgia for what was, brought on by a rising alienation to surrounding reality, making the consumer yearn for the meaningful cultural experiences they once had. ‘Pet Sematary 2019’ delivers on exactly this promise. But what makes it stand out among the rest, is its reboot-related meta-narrative.

‘Pet Sematary’ is in short, a film about a father loosing his young son, deciding in his grief to burry the child in a cursed native burial ground, that is said to bring the dead back to life. He does this and his son does return. But something has shifted in the boy, something is now truly off. And wouldn’t you know it, it is something sinister that stirs in the kid and he soon sets out to kill everyone around him.

In similar fashion, the horror movie ‘Pet Sematary’ has likewise also been dead - for a while now, since 1989 to be precise - and now some board of executive producers decided to bury it in a cursed burial ground and in this way bring it back to live and return it to the theatres. But just like that boy came back different, despite all his similarities, so does the film. Correspondingly to how the child brought back to life, seems hollow and emotionally dead - all the things that once represented a spark of life, gone - the horror reboot seems correspondent to its original in almost every detail, but still uncannily ‘not the thing’; empty, void, off. A copy of a copy.

Achilles Heel v.2
And then something happens. The achilles heel scene mentioned above is about to reoccur. In 1989, the little boy slices the achilles heel of an old man as he walks past a bed, searching for the kid gone rampage. The little hand shoots out from the dark, moving the doctor’s scalpel smoothly through the firm tendon, just above the heel. Haptic viewing check. In 2019, the old man again walks towards the bed. He stands there, next to the bed, ready for it. (I am ready for it.) It is the same framing. The same pacing. I feel my body remember this. I (re)watch it haptically; behind the teeth, in my tightened gut, in my achilles heel. And then, the old man abruptly kicks the bed away, revealing no threat lurking under it. Set-up. The movie knows that my body knows. The tension of the scene unwinds. The old man walks down the stairs of the old two-storey house. And from under the wooden staircase, the little arm shoots out, achilles heel sliced. Pay-off.

Something resounding stays with me, as I leave the cinema. I yearned for the re-experience of that first bodily jolt, that haptic viewing experience that my body still remembers. And I was called-out on this nostalgic need and instead given an ironic simulacra of it. Void.

Cinema As Social Space
I have long considered my own work with film as a tool for creating cinematic moments, in the sense of a heightened experiential moment enjoyed or endured in collectivity. The cinema as social space may no doubt offer the paradoxical loneliness of being in (and of) the crowd, but it does also create a space for encountering meaningful narratives in a shared setting. (Cinema – together with few other social spectacles – offers a collective situation actually encouraging people to raise their eye level above the screen in the palm of their hand.) Cinema has always played a crucial role in enabling political spaces for critical thought to be shared between social classes, factory workers, minority groups, movements and subcultures. This active critical space of the cinema may quite possibly be near extinction – the cinema complexes now only warehouse for consumer products that cater for a type of pseudo-political consensus, not challenging anyone in their moment of consumption – but a delicate notion of collectivity persists. Inside the darkness of the cinema the social moment is especially unquestionable, when the horror film manipulates waves of physical movement, tension and reaction in the seated crowd. Collective haptic experiences. Horror wants to do things with the body.

The artistic research of Oceanic Horror takes place in and up against this temporal figure that I call 'Rebootism'. A distinctive cultural practice, brushing up against political ideology, that exists on the premise that everything experienced should not move too far from what have already previously been experienced. It’s is about reigniting what the consumer remembers, serving it again, in an updated polished version; changed lightly to accommodate the changing times. Add CGI splendour, add meme-effect. It is also importantly related to a certain yearning for something true that supposedly existed back in a time when things were different, better. It is not enough to revisit this experience as pure nostalgia - as in seeing that old thing again - but the revisit must be in the form of something new, something happening now. It thus confirms the dreamy possibility of this now, sharing potentials with that time remembered. In an infantilising way the reboot maintains the viewer in the state of ‘wayback when’. In this way it is not simply a revisiting of that very movie from my childhood. If it was just that, I would recognise the quality of that movie as dated and it would speak to the illusions I had back then and how I have grown from them. I would be reminded, that I am no longer that child. That the expectations I had for the future, was never met. In the reboot, I get to revisit the sensation I had as a child, but now revisited as something up-to-date. I am kept in the childhood state. It is not a nostalgic cast back reminding me of a time never returning, but really a tool for perpetual infantilisation. The reboot bars me from ever experiencing something truly new and making me realise how radically different my life is from the one I had (or might have dreamt of). In maintaining the updated version of what was, I am kept in this state of belonging to the past.

‘Candyman’ had the same haptic influence on me when I first saw it back in 1992. Every time I faced a mirror for too long, my body remembered the building tension I experienced when watching the film. Say his name five times… The reboot of ‘Candyman’ in 2021, directed by Nia DaCosta, with its radically updated political message and critical awareness of the political implications of its source material, did if anything, in a direct and confrontational manner, ask the question whether the reboot as format could actually hold political potentials. Can the nostalgic infantile urge to re-experience anew some ‘true’ and more rich past, lead to a direct confrontation with the potentiality of a completely reshaped present? And can the experience of this reshaped time-paradigm, taking the place of the past experience yearned for, trigger a politically potential sense of anachronism?

An anachronistic time experience; my actual now exchanged for a ‘jumbling up of time, [a] montaging of earlier eras, [that] has ceased to be worthy of comment; it is now so prevalent that it is no longer even noticed.’ (Fisher, 2014) Mark Fisher references this anachronism not only to Fredric Jameson’s ‘nostalgic mode’, where nostalgia escapes the realm of psychology and should rather be ‘understood in terms of a formal attachment to the techniques and formulas of the past, a consequence of a retreat from the modernist challenge of innovating cultural forms adequate to contemporary experience’ (Fisher, 2014), but also to Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s notions of a slow cancelation of the future. In ‘After the Future’ (2011), “Bifo” quite cheekily pinpoints the year 1977 as the very moment when the future seized to exist. He clarifies: ‘[W]hen I say “future”, I am not referring to the direction of time. I am thinking, rather, of the psychological perception, which emerged in the cultural situation of progressive modernity, the cultural expectations that were fabricated during the long period of modern civilisation, reaching a peak in the years after the Second World War. Those expectations were shaped in the conceptual frameworks of an ever progressing development.’ (2011) The notion of an after the future, is not a doomsday prophecy, but the idea of time continuing without the conviction that it can ever bring about progress. In this mode of being, the reboot delivers just the amount of input to entertain the infantile consumer, with the notion that progression is happening, technically and politically, always of course only on a symbolically level, while comfortingly maintaining its subjects in the womb of that beforetime, when futures (worth living) were still imagined. There seems to be an equivalent between the adult state of existing with progression as promise, prior to the shift that “Bifo” dates to around 1977, and the child that still have radical imagination and for whom the future is really all prospect and progress.

Both “Bifo” and Fisher, though a generation apart, recognises this moment before the end of the future, where progression was a promise, and both emphasises how they ‘will never be able to adjust to the paradoxes of this new situation.’ (Fisher, 2014) Fisher recognises this loss of faith in the future, in the constant reruns of old ideas. He confidently fends off the obvious criticism that this is merely him not understanding the new. ‘The immediate temptation here is to fit what I’m saying into a wearily familiar narrative: it is a matter of the old failing to come to terms with the new, saying it was better in their day. Yet it is just this picture – with its assumption that the young are automatically at the leading edge of cultural change – that is now out of date. Rather than the old recoiling from the “new” in fear and incomprehension, those whose expectations were formed in an earlier era are more likely to be startled by the sheer persistence of recognisable forms.’ (2014) The reboot also delivers on the quasi-evental idea that ‘there are no breaks, no “shock of the new” to come’. (Fisher, 2009) The reboot is twofold, bi-polar in its design. It must speak to what was, the established, since it does not have conviction that anything new can ever happen (or have sufficient profit value, for that matter), and it must reconfigure everything already established, in response to the new. Our memories are reworked like an edit function in a twitter-threat. The prospects of the future, is the polishing up of the past, so that it can reoccur again and again, in perfect sync with the present.

I have been considering this idea of an end of future or a jumbling of time or a time out of joint, in relation to my own artistic practise, where I think of the past as something haunting and thus potentially re-narrativisable. Her I am definitely in line with Fisher when he describes a past that is not ‘an actual historical period so much as a fantastic past, a Time that can only ever be retrospectively – retrospectrally – posited’. (2014) I have often thought of my work as existing within a certain hauntological mode. The hauntology/ontology pun (that Fisher reminds us works even better in audible spoken French), quite fittingly describes the tempor(e)ality that I consciously work within. It has to do with the mutual presence of a temporality of being and a temporality of negative being. Or ‘of being haunted by events that had not actually happened, futures that failed to materialise and remained spectral.’ (Fisher, 2014) In my artistic work I have tried to cultivated a practice of revisiting the past, not to retrieve it really, but rather to linger in it, to haunt it and be haunted in return, and in this haunting somehow reshape its narrative, or indeed its very tempor(e)ality. I think of the hauntological as an instrument to make visible/audible that which is not there, yet is present, be it a lost narrative or a temporal quality undiscovered.

Everything Repeats
Rebootism is the notion that nothing new will ever happen, not only because of nostalgia or market interests, but because the future somehow wants to see everything repeat. There is nothing coming on the horizon, the earth is truly flat. 'Rebootism' is a horror vehicle. The condition of horror unfolding repeatedly; always skipping back to its outset when near resolution.