How to Disappear Completely (2019)

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How to Disappear Completely (2019)

An abandoned apartment in Cairo is discovered; the occupant is missing leaving behind copious notes and drawings in a peculiar hybrid language, moreover, written over many decades.

How to disappear completely is about the idea of the existence of the multiverse. The physicist Lee Smolin writes that we live in an infinity of universes, where the possibility of many forms of life and therefore many forms of consciousness exist. Smolin proposed that each universe, born from a black hole is an uncanny replica of the worlds from which it was formed, uncanny because, as each iteration forms, small anomalies are born within it. Each time a black hole in the new universe gives birth, these anomalies will increase exponentially. In some cultures it is believed that people who have the ability to hear voices are conversing with other beings outside of our world, that they are able to occupy the infrathin, an intervening space between worlds. It is thought that these people are able tell of stories from other worlds, uncanny worlds that are like ours but stranger, at a slight difference. There are many theories about the multiverse. One possible model is the bubble-like multiverse, where infinite spherical universes exist apart but are together in a vast ‘ocean’ii. As they drift and expand, the possibility of collision occurs, a momentary meeting place where the surface of each universe becomes a single membrane, an interface, a dark looking glass into the worlds beyond.

Perhaps the occupant of the abandoned apartment in Cairo found one of these meeting places, perhaps the notes and drawings left behind are a hybrid, formed from Arabic, mathematics and the languages of this other world. Perhaps the apartment is at the interface of these two worlds. In How to disappear completely we navigate the space in and around the abandoned apartment via a story told in earphones and the physical space of the apartment. Is the occupant still here, but cannot be seen or heard as he or she has passed through into the other world? To physically pass into these other worlds may not be possible, but to experience them, to feel their presence could be? The architect, Juhani Pallasmaa writes of our experiencing of places, of architectures as sensual rather than visual and conceptual. He writes of the imagination and dreaming as a place to navigate new spaces, other worlds. ‘Dreams are not pictures; they are spaces and imaginatively lived experiences. Yet they are all entirely products of our imagination.' And we may catch ourselves, our reflection, in a dark surface and looking into it see that we are already inhabiting these other worlds, that call to us, oneirically, from the inverted image that we hold in our dreams.

Juhani Pallasmaa, Space, Place, and Atmosphere: Peripheral Perception in Existentialist Experience, in Architectural Atmospheres: On the Experience and Politics of Architecture, Ed. Christian Borch, Birkhauser Verlag, 2014, p. 35.