But, how much of these menaced, compromised or otherwise accidental mutations can really be explained by the "inevitable" constraints of those improvised situations? That is to say, Annis's own attractions to sublimity, darkness, and a Surrealist-informed aesthetics of monstrosity feel much more compellingly present as the gravitational force propelling these occasions for decay. As we canvassed her collection of dripped candles, books on the art of Joel-Peter Witkin and other items worthy of what Restoration poetaster Ned Ward called a "Ware-house of Egyptian Mummies, old musty Skeletons, and other antiquated Trumpery," we heard tell of her friend's 32-page suicide note as "an extraordinary document." We saw her images of sites of famous, melancholic deaths. We smelled unfurling around us the pungent odors of the highly toxic ether, collodion and silver nitrate requisite to this procedure with which she works and sleeps.
Annis claimed at one point that her art aims for "a sense of meaning without actually making sense." Wet, wooly and intentionally designed to court visual danger, I think there actually is a very clear way in which it does make sense—as a risk-seeking indulgence of a full-throated death drive. Fluid this work surely is in its material making. Liquid it may be in its squishy, morbid reflections. But, is it intelligent? More broadly, does an account of liquid intelligence need to breed in the dark, marshy backwaters of this plangent lugubriousness? Or might we model its movement—as with Fiona's posing of Jeff—across the face of brighter, lighter surfaces?