Interview 1 - Mount Analogue

Landlooker Society spoke with Colleen Louise Barry of Mount Analogue, November 2016 - February 2017. Sometimes interviews take time. 

LS: Who is Mount Analogue? How did it come to be?


Mount Analogue is everyone. For starters, here are some recent collaborators: Halie Theoharides, Caroline Belle Stewart, Olivia Hall, our Twitter Artists-in-Residence, Megan Harmon, our participating artists from the Summer Art Series 2016, Ben Roylance, Emily Siegenthaler, Jon-Michael Frank, Wall of Ears, Lindsey Webb, Colleen Louise Barry, and coming up: Ted Powers, Stephanie Passantino, Max Cohen, Jessica Ramsey, Phoebe Bulkeley Harris, Kelly Bjork, the poets in our new Erasure Series, Jon Ruseski, Jeff Parker, Brendan Barry.

We also have a call out for political pamphlets right now, open to LGBTQ, those with disabilities, womxn, people of color, and those who feel oppressed by our white patriarchal society. More here.    

Mount Analogue came about because it probably shouldn’t be. And from a desire to understand, produce, enjoy, elevate, and push what and how a book is and does. Language, image, interaction. Something real, something abstract, an experience. Art.

LS: Mount Analogue’s mission statement is a poem, a comic, and a myth. Can you share some excerpts? Or the whole text? What is the power of storytelling in traversing the everyday rational?

The whole poem-comic thus far can be seen on our website here.

Periodically, THE MYTH OF MOUNT ANALOGUE is published in small print runs, either as “parts” are finished, or as needed/wanted. I give them out at book fairs and markets and put them in our packages when we ship out books or other projects, until the print run is out.

It’s not about being rational. It is precisely not about that.

Myths are irrational, widely-held, false, true, traditional, supernatural, exaggerated, and idealized parables, stories, explanations, misconceptions, beliefs, misrepresentations, and legends for the people, of the people.

LS: Inspirations? Rene Daumal? His novel? What beyond the title compels you today?

Mount Analogue is about what seems possible and what is possible, about what rules are and how they function. The book is a logic problem, an argument for irrationality.

“Mount Analogue” is a lovely couplet, a strong diptych.

LS: Pataphysics? Do you practice pataphysics & if so, could you give a specific example from daily life?

Pataphysics?!? YES.

Yes to any pseudo-scientific literary trope insistent upon never being pinned down.

Everyone is a pataphysicist to a degree. A virtual or imaginary nature of anything is as valid and significant as any other nature of anything, as we’ve seen in this election. Potential is a force. We live in abstract realities most of the time. Our dreams, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, even the Internet -- all of these things fracture “reality” and put in flux what constitutes the rules of such a thing, such a thing as REALITY.

LS: Is it true that Daumal coined the word peradam — an object that is revealed only to those who seek it? How do you deploy this concept?

As far as I understand, Daumal did coin the phrase “peradam”.

There’s a lot of magic in the word. I think it is the same kind of magic that occurs upon inspiration; when we stumble into an important project or concept, when someone stumbles into us, when we see or hear or feel artists making good work.

LS: Daumal’s novel inspired the film The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky.  Would you recommend?

Yes. Highly. 

LS: One of Mount Analogue’s projects is Conversations with Women - a quarterly collaborative project released in alignment with the earth’s rotation around the sun. This autumnal equinox saw the first edition of Conversations With Women: MAST YEAR: A MYSTICAL FIELD GUIDE. Can you talk about the project & elaborate on the following statement from the description on Mount Analogue’s website: “The project is meant to be read in many different ways, for many different reasons.”  

MAST YEAR is a collaboration between myself and Caroline Belle Stewart. It is a deck of divinity cards / a rearrangeable, fragmentary short story / and a field-guide to North American bird mnemonics.

Caroline and I conducted interviews with each other, which are on the site here. This is from one of Caroline’s answers:

"I think the story can be read narratively on the cards, but we’ve formatted it in a way so that the fragments can be taken out of context, perhaps in a divinatory way. A reader could, for example, choose the bird that she or he felt most connected to on a given day, and then flip the card to see what the words say. Or, as with the bible ritual, ask a question and draw a card with their eyes closed. It was interesting to see how the text lined up with the birds once we had formatted it all. It takes on its own significance.

With MAST YEAR, we are making statements that reflect our ideas about birds and women in a number of ways: textually, visually, formally, physically, sequentially. For me, the story I wrote is a pretty straightforward assertion of my feminist dream goals: reject companionship and go live in the woods."

Conversations with Women is an ongoing series of projects that seeks to facilitate, foster, and produce artistic dialogue between female-identifying artists and writers.

The next project in the series is a photo-comic by Stephanie Passantino and Colleen Louise Barry, called FUMETTI FOR THE MOTHERSHIP.  

We are also so excited to be building an installation called THAT DOG at Non Plus Ultra in LA next week with Jessica Ramsey of Moon Honey for our Winter 2017 project. Everyone is welcome to the debut show!

LS: The acorns are falling heavy this year — it is a MAST YEAR here. In Mendocino, there is controversy over a timber company practice called hack & squirt in which the trunks of Tan Oaks (or The Acorn Tree) are sliced & the wounds are filled with enough herbicide to kill the tree. The Tan Oaks inhibit Redwood, Doug Fir & other timber growth and so are unwanted on timber land. The indiginous Pomo people relied heavily on The Acorn Tree for food, and a few are lobbying for access to harvest off timber land — to change the perception of The Acorn Tree from disposable (profit-wise) to valuable (food-wise). I don’t know what sort of question follows this — maybe: Can MAST YEAR offer ideas for how to shift perceptions or consciousness around value systems — away from profit/currency and toward another? Or maybe just, why did you choose the title MAST YEAR?

HACK AND SQUIRT? No. Way. Amazing. !

I love this question. I don’t know if MAST YEAR is specifically addressing the cost-value ratio, but I do think that art is always challenging value, especially art that is made by two women.

This project was titled MAST YEAR by Caroline Belle Stewart, who was the collaborating artist on this season’s project and who wrote the short story portion of MAST YEAR. She found it in a book about New England forests while a resident at the MacDowell colony. We both liked that “mast year” brings to mind something hopeful, nourishing, cyclical, and rare.

LS:  Geologists & environmentalists are debating whether we’ve entered the Anthropocene — the era of human-kind. Does Mount Analogue take a stance on this? And to counter, what sort of plant, animal, astrological, geological, so on and so forth not-human-knowledge can aid us now?

The age of men (said in Orc lieutenant Gothmog’s voice) !

I really like that there are people who want to name and understand and contextualize the moment we are living inside. The scope of that is huge.

Ultimately, however, I don’t think it is up to us to know exactly what time it is. I think it is our job to do our best to live how we think we should. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

LS: Finally, if one thing could be invented to solve the world, what would it be? Or has it already been?

Solve? Invention? One thing? I don’t know.

Reading more books. Reaching out to the ideas and feelings of others. Collaborating.

I firmly believe that gender will one day very soon be so fluid as to feel antiquated, that the color of one’s skin or their place of birth won’t be a part of how they are valued, that money will no longer be the driving force behind humanity’s collective direction and decision-making.

Although it is sometimes very difficult and sometimes makes people uncomfortable, Mount Analogue is dedicated to these ideas and to publishing and promoting art and writing that offers new ideas, new ways forward, new perspectives.

I think it is easy for some people to forget that nothing is perfect; that ideas are little offerings and should be treated with respect, should be turned over and examined tenderly. Sometimes the idea is good, sometimes it is bad -- this life is a great experiment. If someone is striving forward, making a statement, producing interesting work, offering an experience never offered before -- why put them down? Join in the conversation. Make something. Approach it with humility.

LS: Thank you Colleen & Mount Analogue!