Jeremy Fernando presents: ‘Line to Line No. 2: A Hovering Annunciation Triptych’ by Setsuko Adachi

Line to Line No. 2: A Hovering Annunciation Triptych

by Setsuko Adachi

Her mind behaved strangely when she glanced at a picture of a band, the one she found in “Jeremy Fernando Presents: The Symbolic Order at Mural Lingo.” [1] Annunciation Triptych [2] appeared and hovered over it. Maybe it was the way the three windows opened angled behind the bearded guitarist and vocalist, Michael Kearney, [3] that the association was born and somewhere behind, the tropical foliage of Singapore, outside the windows, was the vanishing point. Mike, with his guitar was standing behind the square table set at the center, on the table was a microphone for Mike and the electric instruments-gadgets that Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen played. Mark was standing to Mike’s right and Li Shuen on Mike’s left, across the table from Mark. The three formed an inverted triangle. See how nice I am? I made sure Mark and Li Shuen are in front? — Mike said. He is not the kind to scream, “Hey Singapore, are you happy?” and stick the microphone at those that came to see the show.

Line to Line No. 2 was a sound event [4] that happened between flights — Mike flew in from Tokyo a day before and Mark and Li Shuen, as Are, were flying out for their Australian tour, Cannonball, [5] in a few hours. Only passion would dare to pull off such a slim window. And, of course Mark and Li Shuen, in their quiet and unconcerned manner, organized and fitted everybody nonchalantly into their schedule.

That evening Mark, after The Symbolic Order and Are played, went on and opened a dialogue “between friends on Creating, Performing and Flights.” “Can we talk about the traveling aspect with/from/of each of our works (post-creation)?” Then he laid down the vulnerable question: “… is there pain or is there enjoyment in our work (post-creation) traveling?,” and added an example “like Mike’s song recorded in 88/89 and how the song has been traveling over so many years.” [6]

Who knows what her mind was-is up to … whatever intersection it perceived, the Annunciation Triptych — a portable size triptych, only about 65 cm2 when folded — wouldn’t go away. It coupled itself with the picture of The Symbolic Order at Mural Lingo and stayed hovering in her mind. And for her it didn’t take long — when her idle mind came across the idea, “the tables are odd,” she floated off readily leaving her work behind.




Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece) by Workshop of Robert Campin (Netherlandish, ca. 1375–1444 Tournai)




The table was odd, she condemned. The surface of the table was depicted almost upright at the center of the central piece in the Annunciation Triptych; the candle would be slipping off the table. They could have done better. She passed her judgment, quite corrupted by the realism of linear perspective, on an early 15th century triptych created in Tournai, South Netherlands — linear perspective had not reached there yet. Look how real the smothered smoke of the candle curls and floats! It was amazing how painters’ observant eyes could capture with such precision the moment when the fire was just put out. The candle holder was shining with shades accurately reflecting the light from the windows. They had the skills and technology, oil paint. She knew her judgment echoed the arrogance of the progressivist view; where the inability to depict the table more realistically, where the lack of the mathematical accuracy to present an optical illusion correctly, was a flaw. Yet she couldn’t help it — the table was so offensive to her. She was affixed to the lines, to the origin point of the linear perspective vision, to the ever human-centric positioning.

… Then her floating mind saw the table looking right as it was supposed to be. Surprisingly, the annunciation scene looked more right from there. She was looking down on to it from above (could this be the heavenly view?) and this view made the calculation for the artistic effect more evident: the Holy Spirit was accurately gliding diagonally — straight to its destination: the spot, the drapery that covered Mary’s womb, was shining, meant to be a focal point. [So ironic was the fact that her heathen eyes were not bothered at all by the fact that the painting was sketching the physically invisible — unreal: the winged-being (Archangel Gabriel) and Holy Spirit (the tiny naked boy flying in with the rays of light through the window carrying a cross.)]

The realization carried her away. Intrigued, she went in and out of the picture; turning the pictures around, holding it high and low. She thought, for a fleeting moment anyway, she would live her life for this looping pleasure; and she was firmly convinced, again for a fleeting moment, that to experience this was what life was for. Such joy it was to be liberated from the lines, in unbound richness. And so, the looping movement began between her and the picture feeding off each other — she felt somatic immersion with the movement. The more liberated from the lines, the more the looping came, and the more life manifested.

Come and join me, she beckoned from behind the table, holding the round surface upright trying to attract the attention of those looking at the picture, — Come, join me in the looping. … It didn’t work, they found her table too offensive. They went on walking the lines, the thin extraction of the world into linearity. In her disappointment, her near-sighted eyes searched farther out and spotted herself seated on the other side at the front row. Her blank eyes were looking at The Symbolic Order playing.

The table was odd, she condemned herself for sitting at the best spot, at the center, closest to the band; she only saw Mark’s and Li Shuen’s profile or the back of their heads; they were looking at Mike, behind the square table or their instruments. Mike was comfortable behind the table. All the straight bonding serving lines that would connect the seated and The Symbolic Order were disrupted, the viewer-centric vision was negated. (The attitude does not suit the capitalistic fame making paradigm neither.) When the Symbolic Order started playing Walk Inside Your Empty Head, Mike’s song travelling over thirty years, she in her head began to fix it – by taking the windows from behind, pulling them over, enlarging them to find the right size to frame Mike, Mark, and Li Shuen. She wanted to place the inverted triangle as aesthetically pleasing as she could from where she was seated. When a round table fell on her head and knocked her out, she was putting the windows back to where they were with her window art.

Some say it was wrath, some say it was awe that struck her (at Mural Lingo) and her (in the Annunciation Triptych) — probably both. At any rate she in the Annunciation Triptych reflexively let her firm grips go from the round table in surprise when loud music, that was unheard of in the 15th century, was blasted behind her back. She jumped, dropped the table, turned around confused and astonished, found the three looping away delighted with the sound they saw in each other. They were walking around freely and creating freely, plus playing away endlessly. They were quite oblivious to the fact that however empty it may be, it was her head. She lost her mind.




… is there pain or is there enjoyment in our work (post-creation) traveling, …




[1] “Jeremy Fernando Presents: The Symbolic Order at Mural Lingo,” Queen Mob’s Tea House, August 17, 2017.

[2] Also known as Merode Altarpiece, by the Workshop of Robert Campin, oil on oak, ca1427-32. Dimensions: Overall (open): 25 3/8 x 46 3/8 in. (64.5 x 117.8 cm), Central panel: 25 1/4 x 24 7/8 in. (64.1 x 63.2 cm), each wing: 25 3/8 x 10 3/4 in. (64.5 x 27.3 cm),” The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

[3] Michael Kearney (along with Durnin Martin) is the orchestrator for the concept of The Symbolic Order Project. It is a project operating in the intersections of sound, image, and text. The Symbolic Order work both by themselves and in collaboration with other musicians and artists across the globe. Their work can be found here:

[4] Line to Line No. 2 was held at Mural Lingo, Singapore, July 23, 2017.

[5] Are’s album, Cannonball can be found here:

[6] Quoted from the messenger text to author by Mark Chua. (September 5, 2017) The obsession with a 30-year-old song, “Walk Inside Your Empty Head” puzzled Matt Adamec, too, who played the song with Mike back in 88/89. Matt emailed Mike, “You really breathed some new life into it, the way it unfolds and builds.” (July 10, 2017) The new version of the song can be found on the EP, Walk: 




Setsuko Adachi is an associate professor in the Department of Information Studies at Kogakuin University, Tokyo. She obtained her MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Tokyo. Her main research interests are identity formation and cultural systems analysis. Recent publications include: ‘Undermined Empathy, Undermined Coexistence: Japanese Discursive Formations Related to Empathy’ (The Need to Belong: Perpetual Conflicts and Temporary Stability, Albin Wagner and Tina Rahimy eds. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press, 2015); ‘I think; therefore, I am.’ (Berfrois, July 20, 2016); and ‘Reinterpretation’ (Queen Mob’s Tea House, June 6, 2016).

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