This is a character profile, interview, and event teaser with Eubanks P. Coaltrain for Nocturnal Reverse: a Rescue on the Solstice on December 21st within the ongoing ARX The Society and TheBoanthropic. For our up-to-date coverage of the latest developments and character descriptions, click here. To purchase tickets for Nocturnal Reverse: a Rescue on the Solstice on December 21st, click here.
“Just Get a Handle on Your Own Issues”
In July of this year, while Seekers were climbing Mountains and Divulging secrets, and while Pilgrims were coaxing Beasts and awaiting the Harvest Moon, another all together different presence emerged. The Instagram account @eubankskindrewind was activated.
Eubanks fascinated a small but engaged group of followers with a series of short videos that leaned heavily into the popular aesthetic of warped distortion and 90’s VHS home movie nostalgia. He seemed to combine videos from several sources together to create unique bite-sized works of video art, telling a story or making a point that may have been elusive to those watching, but was no less engaging. The accompanying captions were philosophical, confessional, life-affirming, at times inspirational. Whatever he was doing, the public responded.
As the videos continued to pop up, however, trends began to emerge. Images continued to recur from clip to clip. A man sitting in a chair with another man standing behind him. Partygoers wearing masks. A motel room bed that is first empty and then occupied. An art gallery. It became increasingly clear that these were not random home movie clips he was pulling from, but a single source of content he was revisiting again and again. A story progressing in fits and starts, fractured glimpses into a far-off world that need to be obscured to hide some horrible truth.
The captions began to document the straining of Eubanks’ spirit. Whereas he once sounded enthusiastic and appreciative of feedback, he later sounded increasingly frustrated, tortured by the monotony as though he was trapped in a feedback loop the same as the subjects of his videos. He made veiled references to a person or group that was pressing him to complete projects, wearing him down even further. Who was this mysterious auteur? Who or what was compelling him to continue? Where were the tapes coming from, and who were the people and places shown that he was repurposing again and again?
“Been Trying to Cancel So Much of the Head Noise”
On October 10th Eubanks P. Coaltrain, the nom de plume for the mysterious editor, was revealed to be a paid freelancer in the service of TheBoanthropic Resistance (or Bobo, as they are affectionately referred), the underground movement who had since June been working with a group of dedicated Pilgrims to infiltrate a myserious Mountain cult known as The Society.
Somehow these tapes Eubanks had been editing were connected to the Society, and it was the Bobo’s desire that Eubanks upload this Society footage, allowing him carte blanche to edit the tapes however he liked, as long as all of it was seen. He had been going about this work in relative anonymity, unconnected publicly to the war of reputations for the trust of curious Angelenos throughout the city, but now he had been very publicly aligned against a group that is historically vocal towards dissenters.
“Don’t Be Afraid to Get Messy and Muddy and Fail”
On October 11th, Eubanks posted his first Instagram story, a collection of short clips he for once filmed himself, titled “Marching orders from the Bobo.” In it, we saw Eubanks, his face obscured by an extravagant Mardi Gras mask, receiving a new tape from the Resistance and a series of instructions on what to do with it. The tape was shown to be from 1996, and contained some familiar images from past Eubanks videos of people in masks and formal attire at some kind of gala.
This special video tape, sent publicly to Eubanks from the Resistance, was believed to be the focus of an upcoming event organized by the Bobo called “Nocturnal Reverse,” an art installation scheduled for October 28th promising to show events related to a reportedly disastrous failed attempt to infiltrate the Society years ago.
A bold declaration of intent, Pilgrims following along were understandably excited. Some had been following Eubanks before even learning of his affiliation with the Resistance. This long held surprise was making waves, and the added promise of being shown an un-sanitized look into the inner-workings of the Society was proving irresistible. Inevitably, however, the group interceded.
“Planning is So Tough Because it Requires a Commitment to the Future”
On October 13th, Eubanks received a package he had been expecting, an antique folding mirror. To his surprise, within the mirror, he found a manila envelope containing a cease and desist order signed by a lawyer claiming to have been retained by the Society who identified himself as R. Siegelburg Esq. In the letter, Mr. Siegelburg threatened severe legal action if Eubanks did not immediately remove all videos from his account, refrain from posting any more videos, and cancel the Nocturnal Reverse event. While Eubanks was willing to forge onward despite this personal risk, the Bobo relented, choosing to postpone the event and regroup in order to ensure the safety of the ally they had put in danger. A long silence followed, where neither Eubanks, the Resistance, TheBoanthropic, or other known allies in the area including the Black Rose or Krysta Doe were heard from.
“How to Proceed Through a Block”
Eventually on December 9th the word was given. Eubanks resurfaced with a new video, challenging all who might stand in his way and suggesting that before long something would be coming. The Bobo confirmed Eubanks’ challenge by once again announcing Nocturnal Reverse and Eubanks’ work would be shown.
Now coinciding with the Winter Solstice on December 21st, it has been suggested that a woman named Mary, long thought to be a prisoner of the Society, would see her pregnancy come to term that same night, and that those attending Nocturnal Reverse would also be conscripted into an operation designed to free Mary and her baby, often referred to as the Moonchild.
“I Don’t Really Like the Word Hope”
In a notable departure from the norm that can’t be ignored, beginning on December 18th Eubanks’ daily videos began to take on a new and very specific focus. While they continue to include the usual images of the men in the hotel room and their increasingly dire-looking interaction and the celebratory gala, the bulk of their running time focuses on a man so far unknown to us: Troy B.
In each video we have several uninterrupted shots of Troy where we can clearly see his face and voice, unusual for the often distortion-happy Eubanks. We also see Troy in one clip clearly banded and marked, the surest signs yet that this video originates from the Society. The editor seems fixated on this man, remarking in one caption “…who in the hell is Troy B? How does he fit into all of this? It really looks like from what I’ve seen that he got in too deep. What the hell happened to Troy? Is he still out there? Is he still on the run?” Later videos continuing to focus on Troy make mention of his aspiration to become a journalist and a mysterious blonde woman he once met who may be the key to his connection to The Society. Eubanks’ concern for him grows with each new post.
What was Troy looking for? What happened when he found it? Where is he now? These are the questions that seem to occupy Eubanks’ mind in the final hours before Nocturnal Reverse premiers. Might Troy feature heavily in whatever finished product Nocturnal Reverse debuts? Could he be at the center of Might he have an as of yet undiscovered connection to someone already known to us? Only time will tell. The Solstice nears.
“How Do You Want to Manifesto Your Best Self?”
Recently, I have enjoyed a sporadic but enlightening correspondence with Eubanks via Instagram direct messaging. Normally very much the recluse allowing his art to speak for itself, Eubanks now feels that in light of recent events it would be beneficial to all involved if he opened up about his experience working with the Resistance this year. The following is an excerpt from those conversations.
E: First, a little about me, I guess, friend. I suppose that’s a friendly place to start. My name— Eubanks is me. That’s not on my birth certificate, but I am who he is and he’s no one else but me.
C: Why the pseudonym?
E: So… I chose not to use my own identity for my art. There wasn’t any explicit instruction that said I had to conceal my identity but when they started talking about cults, emotional damage, the moon, and sexual energies… frankly I didn’t really understand what was going on and really thought it would be best for me to bury my identity. Mark it for later, but bury it. I realized some time ago I have some identity issues and I needed the freedom the shroud of secrecy offered. The Eubanks persona was looking for a medium for some time. I was lucky enough to get some work under that name. After making a ton of mistakes and failing often, I wasn’t handling myself the right way. Just so emotional. However, I was lucky enough to be presented an opportunity via a go-between I guess.
C: How did that come about, exactly? How did you first come into contact with these people?
E: Well, I’m a known self-saboteur and decided to get help and have really focused on myself and getting healthy. Then more things started happening. I sailed for nine months on a trip around the horn. LA to New York. I was lucky enough to get some work in New York and that lead to going to some events and at a video art show I made a friend. So we started talking and he showed me his art (which was excellent) and I showed him a video I had made for alanArkive and he gave me a card with an email and said these people would be interested in what I do. I can’t remember his last name because he’s just in my phone as Nic.
C: So you contacted them, and it turned out to be the Resistance? The Bobo?
E: This is the part I’m most proud of: negotiating with the Bobo. Even though I was desperate to get into the box of VHS tapes they had offered me to log and edit, I was insistent on having a high degree of creative control.
C: What did they have in mind originally? How did you sell them on your vision?
E: Their initial offer was much more prescriptive and involved final cut on their end. This was not the time to anything other than exactly what I wanted to make. And after I sent back that email, I was almost positive that it wasn’t gonna happen.
C: What was the purpose, in their eyes, before your vision was introduced?
E: The purpose? They didn’t say. Also, I guess it’s funny because I’ve never questioned making something out of what I find. I guess I should because now there’s at least enough for you to be asking questions, which is unusual for me. I’m not used to people asking me about what I’m doing. All they wanted was to make sure that every frame of that footage was on the internet at some point. Could be distorted, could be out of order. Backwards, forwards, big, small, so long as it’s on the record IN INK.
C: And how much is left to go? Are you nearing the end of the raw material?
E: Not. Even. Close. I’ve met most of their other obligations, though, like follow wearethebobo Instagram account and all their followers and target these vaporwave artists and these people who like travel or these people who are into horror. It was exhausting but I’ve discovered some rather complex notions via these exchanges. I’ll admit I was freaked out a bit and that’s when I got that sinking feeling, that “Oh, I need to at least see where this goes and it may get weird” feeling. I’ve been burned a lot and am maybe overprotective of my privacy.
C: So for months you were operating more or less autonomously, until October came with that big announcement and your first Instagram story. Was this a direction from them? What made you decide to get more directly involved?
E: I really had my doubts about doing the live videos in October, but they sent me this really heart-wrenching excerpt of a letter sent to me. It was a piece of this handwritten letter and it said, “Mom, I want to come home again but the home is not with you. I have a new father.” They convinced me that they were helping people in need and that I needed them to be more direct about their connection with my project. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that in a way that’s helpful to their cause, which to this point seems to be a noble one. That being said, I don’t really know enough about them to say anything definitively.
C: Sorry, I just want to be clear, that letter about the mom and Father you mentioned— did that letter have any personal connection to you, or was that just an example of the type of people the Bobo are trying to help?
E: Well… I’m not sure how much I should say. Or that I know for sure who it was. It was under a different name, but I recognized the writing. Seemed very familiar.
C: Familiar how?
E: It was in handwriting like my own. And it made my mind change.
C: Your own handwriting?
E: Like my own. Familiar. Like an old hand me down. Gave me a stirring, almost nostalgic feeling and my mind kind of clicked in place. I decided to do it then.
C: During the live video you express surprise at only receiving one video and no accompanying instructions. Considering how you stood your ground for artistic freedom at the beginning of the process, what are the instructions that usually come with the deliveries?
E: Most of the “instructions” are suggestive. Like a title in quotes. Sometimes I’ll let it influence what footage and how I view it.
C: And then everything stopped. I had no idea the Society was so litigious.
E: Me neither! I know I’ve been quiet… I did what I was advised to do, which I thought was important. The Bobo warned me not to use any more of the footage, I never took any of the videos down like the lawyer asked and that turned out not to be a problem, which makes me think that what they were actually afraid of hadn’t been put out there yet. So the danger is in moving forward. But I want to.
C: In a couple of days people will finally get to see Nocturnal Reverse. How do you feel, looking back on all that you’ve accomplished, now that you’ve reached this big, possibly final, moment?
E: I enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve found a certain kind of voice in it. Followed a story. There is a very interesting and fairly poignant story that I was following through the footage and I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to fully tell it yet. It’s nice to be given the opportunity. I would like to see it come to fruition.