Tuesday 12 December 2017

Pictures at an Exhibition by Stuart Larner

Stuart Larner is a chartered psychologist. Besides writing for scientific journals, he has written articles, poems, stories, and pieces for the stage. He has published four books:  "Jack Daw and the Cat"; "Guile and Spin"; "Hope: Stories from a Women's Refuge" (with Rosie Larner, collectively as Rosy Stewart); and “The Car”. He has a story in Bridge House Anthology 2016.

See his blog http://stuartlarner.blogspot.co.uk/.

The crowd quietened.

“So here, ladies and gentlemen, you see a line of ten large computer screens stretching down the hall.” The acne on the art gallery attendant’s face made him appear young and immature despite the dark square frame of his designer spectacles.  “In each screen is a holographic reproduction of one of the ten paintings by Hartmann, which the composer Mussorgsky used for his piece ‘Pictures at an Exhibition.’ Please be careful not to cross the wooden safety rail, as the hologram screens are highly charged.”

“Mummy, Mummy I can tell the time upside down.” Thomas was swinging one-handed from the rail.

“No, you can’t, that’s silly,” said his sister, Gabby.

“Yes, I can. It’s eight five.”

“You don’t tell it like that,” said Gabby. “That’s silly. You say eight minutes past two. Have you been messing with your watch? Mine says three minutes past two. Look.” Gabby held out her wrist to reveal the cheap pink-strapped children’s watch.

“Calm down, you two,” said their mother, Carmella, who was looking into the first screen in which a gnome walked up and down a country lane. “Wow. Look at that gnome’s eyes, and he moves like he’s alive.”

“Yes,” said the attendant. “That’s right. All the characters are alive in their world of 5D technology. You have the three dimensions of space, the fourth of movement in time, and the fifth of solid reality.”

“So it’s like a computer game?”   

“Yes. Only real. Inside the representation of the painting, the 5D means it can go on for infinity. Outside it, the envelope of that world is compressed into just the thickness of a modern monitor as you can see. There’s no glass front, though. It’s all held in by an electromagnetic layer....”

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