Alone [An Existential Evocation] by The Alone Experience

Delightfully bizarre encounter with a human photocopier of memories.

Experienced: July 29, 2017
Location: Midsummer Scream 2017
Address: Long Beach Convention Center
Price: Free (with Midsummer Scream 2017 admission)
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 10-20 minutes (not including figuring out the starting point)
More Information: The Alone Experience site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Figuring out how to start your experience is always a big part of Alone’s convention shows. This time there was a cryptic description in the show guide but no booth number, no instructions, no hint as to where to begin at all. They are elusive and must be ok with the chance of no one showing up at all.

We knew to look for a triangle. It’s been their staple for as long as I’ve been following them. Usually a white neon light shaped like a triangle. We went storming the showroom floor looking for a triangle in hopes of a starting point. After going down the aisles we bumped into someone who had already found a questionnaire. We got a hint on the vicinity of the starting point.

After finding it we had to laugh about passing the booth by our first time around. It was an upside-down table with a black tablecloth and two chairs- easy to miss if you aren’t paying close attention. There was pink tape in the shape of a triangle with a stack of papers and some pens. We filled out the self assessment questionnaire of 20 questions (form 7c) related to attention and memory. The only instruction at the bottom was to “submit this form to one of our roaming counselors who will shepherd you upon your path to inculcation”.

Where to go from here? We walked around the showroom floor for a bit and I saw a guy in a lab coat who was suspiciously checking out random nearby props. Could this be a counselor? I mustered up the courage to ask the complete stranger “are you a roaming counselor?” When I had to repeat myself I was convinced I had the wrong guy.

We finally gave up and left the showroom floor and went upstairs. After walking some more we noticed a man with a clipboard. Sure enough the clipboard had a similar form to the one we filled out. We noticed another counselor, handed form 7c to both counselors separately, and split up. Their approach to form intake was completely different. One was very conversational and light hearted providing his own anecdotes while the other was very serious and almost clinical in nature. Both recorded us describe a vivid childhood memory on a handheld tape recorder.

The one on one with the processor was interesting with questions like:

  • “do you usually remember details of what happens or the feelings you experienced?”
  • “do you remember your memories through first person or do you see it play out in front of you?”
  • “what did you do on this day last year?”

Some questions were followed up with “why do you think that is?” There was a lot of opportunity to reflect and be introspective.

After going through the form I was led to a curtained off area. I was standing in front of a black curtain waiting patiently when the curtain opened and before I could see anybody a large piece of paper was taped around my head. This acted as sort of a blindfold since all you could see was a large piece of paper directly in front of your eyes.

I was then led to sit on a chair for the inculcation. I sat for a few minutes listening to a heavily processed voice speaking over tense electronic music. The voice was speaking about memories and how our existence is based on a memory and what is real and not real is all subjective and dependent on our memory of it. It spoke of how we are just a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a memory. Or something like that. Ironically I’ve forgotten the details.

At about the time I started to hear the voice repeat I was forced up out of the chair.

The curtained off area was very small so I thought it was over but I was led to a door. I couldn’t see the door since the paper mask helmet thing was on my head this whole time but my hand was forced to knock. I kept knocking and eventually the door opened. I stood there for a moment hearing the familiar mechanical droning sounds that I’ve come to associate with Alone. It’s a part of many of their experiences and memories were rushing into my head. I was pulled inside and the door shut and it was dark.

I was forced to lay down on the floor with my head in between the speakers with the sounds. There were some strobe lights of mostly white and some other colors red and blue I think. It was very clear to me though that I was physically being photocopied. As I lay there someone started slapping pieces of paper onto my leg. Lifting my leg up, wrapping it with paper, taping it together. Other pieces were taped to various spots like my stomach and my arm.

I kept awkwardly trying to hold my water bottle and finally the person just took it out of my hand. After finishing the photocopy process I was helped up and my water bottle was put back into my hand. They proceeded to tape the bottle into my hand.

Moments like this are what make Alone great. It made me laugh as it acknowledged my ongoing concern for this water bottle with a “here you go, we didn’t forget it, let me tape this onto you so you will never, ever, lose it!”

I was led out of the dark room and someone started to poke eye holes into the face mask so I could finally see as I was gently pushed back into the lobby of Midsummer Scream.

At these conventions Alone excels at generating word of mouth. People exiting this experience have a large paper mask on their head of somebody else’s photocopied face. It’s very noticeable and people nearby inevitably ask “what is that?” From what I can see Saturday had a consistent flow of people going through the form intake process. By Sunday there was a line oftentimes 5 or 6 deep waiting to be processed.

The Alone Experience never fails to try something new and are always thinking outside of the box with their shows. I am so thankful to have Alone back even if only for 10-20 minutes. I look forward to whatever they have in store for us in the future!

The Alone Experience