Past Lies involves a narrative that is bought forward through past life regressive hypnosis. This single take work invites us to witness the institutional confession of James Smyth, an eighteen year old Victorian rapist and murderer.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the mise en scène, the constant unblinking stare of the confessor, the stunted delivery of words and the very slight drift of lip-synch create an uneasy feeling as the work unfolds. The phrases that the character uses compound this as specific details are given that seem to belie the apparent context. Presented in a contemporary setting, the words do not quite belong to the image; they come from a different era, sometime in the past.
A session of past life regressive hypnosis took place on 6th December 2002. The first session revealed that I was an 18year old rapist and murderer called James Smyth in 1852. During this session I raped a woman called Esme in a barn, then tried to kill myself by throwing myself off a cliff. Not content with this, I walked in to town, past the barn where I kept my horse and cart and on to the Three Barrels Inn where Esme lived. I raped her again in a back room and then went upstairs to my room. Although the tale that was in itself interesting, I went back on the 10th January 2003 to try and reveal some more detail. Then followed the research process to try to corroborate the events that were described in the sessions