Black Lough Trilogy

What Once Was Lost

"The world of ideas is in certain senses deeper, truer than reality. Ideas, unlike solid structures, do not perish. They remain immortal, immaterial and everywhere, like all divine things. Ideas are a golden, savage landscape that we wander unaware, without a map."
Alan Moore

Stephen Rennicks presented Imagine Black Lough as part of the Landscapes show at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim from 3rd August to 3rd September 2006. The installation included a projected slide show of the trail markers; audio loop of sounds from the lake, 11 pound pot jam jars found close to the lake filled with water from it with photographs of the lake attached to be viewed distorted through the jar, clipping of newspaper text about original Black Lough and a triptych of photographic images. Also in the exhibition were Malachy Costello and  Helena Gorey. All the artists gave a talk on their featured work at the opening.

The following text by the artist was printed onto an A4 sheet to be taken from the installation.


Before Imagine Black Lough at The Dock there was Black Lough at Black Lough. While it is still possible and from my point of view desirable for people to have their own interpretations of the piece I feel it is also important to state my own particular meaning. In short the original 'Black Lough' stood as a metaphor for imagination versus reality. The framed newspaper clipping I have included here very handily reprints my original essay on Black Lough which was included in the website detailing this project. This site and any other communications, both verbal and otherwise, which I sent out at the time was all that was meant to be told of Black Lough and my newly forged trail to it which I hoped would be enough to stir peoples imagination about this place. My placing of a limited numbers of CDs for the public to collect at the last point of the trail my attempt to provide an incentive for a quick resolution in their choice between imagination and reality.

When I was invited to include Black Lough in the Landscapes show I initially felt it was going against my original intention of bringing people to the lake itself and fulfilling my idea of making people confront the reality of their imagination, therefore reaching a point of truth for themselves somewhere between the two. This truth or hyper reality is to realise the promise of the horizon, to link the near and far. There are two ways that I know of to do this, insightful transcendence and the more practical act of will, and this project I feel has managed to link them both.

I worried that my using of the conventions of an art gallery space would provide too much of a comfortable experience in which to view the pleasing imagery, sounds and artifacts from the lake and might allow people to wallow too much in their imagination. Their image become so unreal and idealised that they would be more unlikely to confront the reality of what could now turn out for them to be a tough hike over uncertain terrain to arrive at what might well be a let down for the few who did. So in re-christening the piece Imagine Black Lough and embracing the indoors I am taking on the role of devils advocate and allowing for instances of a purely illusory manner to form for the viewer. But be warned, this is all an illusion, as comfortable and pleasing for the public as I could devise at this point in time.

While Imagine Black Lough can still be whatever the viewer finds in it, after-all Hugo Ball saw reality as a frothy nothing so maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on it. Of course the fact that reality has become so devalued is also something to consider, not to mention regret. Personally I see this present incarnation as primarily a metaphor for the illusion so many live their lives under but be warned; some day you may be forced to awaken from your slumber and find that the space between imagination and reality has grown beyond a point that you can take.

Stephen Rennicks

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