Friday 22 June 2007

Blind Light

Prompted by I, like the View's comment to the post about my London trip, I thought that I would, after all, say a little more about my impression of the Blind Light installation itself.

I'd wondered if the vapour would be cold and clammy or warm and steamy. It was neither. It felt the same temperature as the outside air, or maybe it felt the same temperature as I was. However, when I left, it seemed slightly chillier outside for a second or two. I guess that it needed to be just a little warmer than the room temperature, not to feel cold. I watched from outside for a while - which is half of the experience. Some people plunged straight in, others (all female) sidled in cautiously, reluctant to lose sight of the wall. I decided to walk forward boldly... the woman I talked to later asked me if that would have been my natural reaction, if it hadn't been a conscious decision. A perceptive question, I thought, and I pondered for a moment, before deciding that yes, it would have been. I might have decided not to go in but, if I was going in, I'd not hover at the edge.

To start with, I found myself automatically retaining an awareness of where I was in relation to the entrance, and I had to deliberately switch off and let myself get lost. The first thing I noticed was the swirling pattern like smoke in my vision. Not the mist, but the pattern seen but not noticed in my eyes. Like 'floaters' which, after a while, your brain doesn't notice, but this was something I'd never been aware of before. The fog was thick and, if I breathed in sharply, made me cough. After a few minutes, my nose started to run. To start with, I couldn't help putting my hands ahead of me, but when I discovered that I did see the wall before I hit it, I didn't need to do that any more. Every so often, a shape loomed ahead of me and both of us gasped, or laughed, or said "hello" and veered away. I saw one tall man wearing a pink sweater a few times. He was with a woman in black trousers and they spoke to each other before parting, occasionally saying a word or two to keep in contact. I was content to be quiet. I stopped and held my arms out. I could see my hands. I could see the edge of my knee-length skirt and my legs below, but not my feet. I paddled my feet gently and it was quite splashy. I liked the silence. If the room had been larger, I might have felt lost but I knew it wasn't far to the edge and I liked the sensation of being alone in the company of other people.

After ten minutes or so, I found my way to the exit and left. My hair and eyelashes were damp. I went up to the next level. Like I, Like The View, I loved 'Matrices and Expansions'. I almost gasped with pleasure when I went in the room and wandered happily around for some time.

When I went downstairs again, I went back into Blind Light. This time, there was a group of teenagers and they talked to each other to keep in contact. I found another couple, and the man was flapping his hands ahead of himself to improve visibility. I didn't really think either of these was the way to get the most out of the experience, but every man for himself I suppose. In one corner, a blonde girl was feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondered where the exit was. Her companion said that they could always call for help. She said that it wouldn't feel polite, and would be too dramatic. He chuckled, saying that he supposed she would collapse and die rather than be rude...he said it affectionately, it wasn't an insult. When I went a few steps further, I found that we were, after all, right by the entrance. I left and went back out into the sunshine.

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