In the mirror, I am transparent. You said you couldn’t see through me, couldn’t predict what I would do next. Perhaps I’m as heavily tinted as the BMW that Tupac was shot in. We couldn’t see the future coming at us from behind.
Billboards and road signs aren’t the only text around the city trying to bombard you with information. If you look closely, there are other types of literature trying to tell you something, whether it’s graffiti or highway bloggers expressing their political opinions.
“I know how it feels when the night demons come. We can’t let them control our hands and feet. Sometimes when it hurts so bad we have to just lay in the bed. Just lay in bed and don’t move please, I know how it feels. I wish McQueen could have just been still. Don’t let the psychiatrists give you their drugs because it slows down your wings. Society and public opinion can beat the wings off of angels. When god sees they can’t take it anymore he brings them back home.”
– Kanye West
I like to check into motels and hotels–sometimes in my own city–to work on writings. I lock myself in and blaze through notebooks and legal pads, scribbling ideas as they flow out. I don’t even bring my laptop because it just becomes another distraction. If I have to research something, I’ll use my phone, but I keep it turned off inside a drawer the rest of the time.
San Jose. Los Angeles. Santa Fe. Chicago. Brooklyn. Portland. Baltimore. Omaha. Marfa.
I’ll go wherever there’s a story to be dug up and a writing desk to fuck up.
Motels can be used for many purposes besides sleep and I’ve seen it all: extramarital affairs; drug deals; drug binges; prostitution; investigative journalists interviewing confidential sources; music composition (I once saw a guy move an old bulky piano into a room); temporary shelters for runaways kicked out by their parents; fugitives hiding from the police or feds.
I use shitty motels to write about these people. A+ for old inns that still have a working payphone. Why? Because it’s great for midnight confessional conversations with someone you love, loathe or both.
Texting, social media, emails and unlimited calls on your cellphone gives you too much freedom, too many blank spaces for “uhms” and awkward silences. A payphone forces you to get to the fucking point, to the heart of the matter, as the time and stack of quarters decrease.
Some of the most genuine conversations I’ve ever had only lasted under 10 minutes. There’s nothing quite like saying “I love you” or “I hate you” or “I miss you” or “I’m never coming back” while staring at the names of lovers long gone etched on the payphone booth, cigarette smoke swirling towards the star-flooded night sky, and one last quarter between your fingers.
[Note: a former version of this series was originally published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, March 2014 Issue.]
I know her body so well that I can trace
the scars on her wrist with my fingers
and read her like a poem in Braille.
I’ve played her laughter so often
on my turntable that I’ve composed
symphonies with it on frosted windows.
I woke up to the morning call to prayer,
and the arch of your back was the first thing I saw.
If it had been a mirage, I would’ve photocopied
your image and taped it to reality.
– excerpt from War Correspondence, a book of verse.
Michael Raqim Mira © 2016.
I was inspired to create these images after re-watching classic episodes of The Twilight Zone. When televisions were first introduced to consumers, the technology behind it fascinated people. It seemed like a magical box that projected different realities into your living room. Whether it’s Johnny Depp in a pirate costume or soldiers fighting in the Pacific—staged or documentary—what you see on the television screen are images from a completely different dimension.
Essentially, what you see on the screen are visions from the past. Even live news reportage is simply a sequence of transient images that come and go in a matter of milliseconds. If television can bring us the past, could its receivers intercept images from the future?
Being a theoretical physics geek, I started to think about the “Many Worlds Theory” and other theories which posit that there are multiple different realities taking place at once. The photographs in this series are actually shots of old photos I’ve taken and saved on my computer. I simply photographed these photos on my laptop screen, thus layering 3 different realities in one image: the actual event that was captured on camera, the photograph preserved in my hard drive, and the new hyper-manipulated photo in this series.
Many of the settings in the photos were taken in familiar places, such as the lifelike sculptures at a park, but because the photo is so heavily-modified, it’s not an exact representation of that particular park and becomes something from an alternate reality, a park in another dimension.
This series is part of a larger project (photography book) called Idios + Koisnos Kosmos: Convergence of the Private & Shared World
An image from Your Television is Experiencing a Slight Timeline Convergence was published as the cover of Santa Clara Review’s Volume 103, Issue 1. Shout-out once again to editor Stephen H.