Madness Lies Waiting was conceived, many years ago, as a piece of performance art for a dozen speaking voices, preferably live performers on stage.
At the time (1970s) I was dabbling in poetry (including graphic poetry) and graphic art while studying music composition, particularly the (then) avant-garde represented by Cage, Cardew, and the (then) new resources of electronic music.
Madness Lies Waiting drew on all of these influences. I stopped developing it when I was satisfied with it, which is the only way a creative person will acknowledge a work as ‘finished’, but its anomalous nature condemned it to remain unperformed.
The image posted here was created many years later (2005) as an attempt to present it in graphic form, prompted by a call for submissions for a public ‘poetry wall’ in Perth: the exhibition was called ‘Out of the Asylum’ and I remembered Madness Lies Waiting, a poem which needed to be presented as a very long banner … I really had to send it. Once again, however, its format was against it: it really needs to be big – a couple of metres long.
Click on the thumbnail to see it at a readable, but still less than ideal, size.
It’s a very wide image, so you will very likely need to scroll across it. As you do, try to hear it as voices entering one at a time, whispering at first but growing steadily louder to end up shouting over each other.
If it isn’t scary, the vision in my mind hasn’t been recreated in yours.