Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Susan pui san lok, Faster, Higher (2008)

Susan pui san lok, Faster, Higher BFI Southbank Gallery, 30 May - 31 August 2008. 

Sarah Morris, Lesser Panda, White Cube Mason's Yard, 18 July - 6 September 2008. 

With images of the opening and closing ceremony establishing China's preiminence in global spectacle, it was interesting to see two Olympic-themed moving image works at galleries in London. How should artists relate to the Olympic spectacle, particularly one that, with Herzog and de Meuron's birds-nest stadium, is itself claiming the status and attention of an art work? Susan pui san lok at BFI Southbank and Sarah Morris at White Cube Picadilly present responses that used a similarity of materials to very different ends.

Both had produced their work with a strong sense of the connection between different Olympics, and the broader global currents that could be revealed by such a connection. Susan pui san lok focussed on the connections of Beijing and London 2012, whilst Morris' 1972 responded to Beijing - where she is filming her next film - by focussing on the terrorist attacks of Munich 1972, organizing her film around an interview with Georg Siber, head psychologist of the Olympic Police, who uses the film to stress how the taking hostage of members of the Israeli Olympic Team by the Black September Terror Group mirrored exactly the scenarios Siber had prepared prior to the games.  

Both inadvertently propose an Olympic Aesthetic that combines archive material and newly filmed footage, working consciously within codes and styles of documentary, whilst making shifts and decisions that transform this frame. Thus Susan pui san lok orchestrates her footage over five large screens, deliberately creating a slow, somewhat clinical and clunky, gap-filled rhythm, as if even at this remove the shots of opening ceremonies and performing athletes needed to be further distanced. Morris' decisions were more subtle. At first, I wondered if there were any aesthetic reasons for broadcasting 1972 as a wall-sized installation rather than a BBC4 documentary, but was won round by its subtle disorientations. 

Susan pui san lok, Faster, Higher

So what were the specifics of these disorientations? In Faster, Higher there were sequences of numerous opening ceremonies, balloons and doves let into the air. The quality of footage suggested its date, its contents suggested its geography, as also the similarities between footage and screens testified to the Olympics own symbolic and real brand of globalism. If the five screen structure highlighted the way Olympics are constructed as spectacles in media images, then the piece connected these to its own machinations, as the particular codes of color bars and video graphic countdowns appeared at different times on various screens. Amongst the archive footage were images of climbers ascending Everest. The Olympics, pui san lok suggests, are an event worth paying careful attention to for the way they reflect, embody, prompt and distill the world in which they take place, but the artist and viewer needs both distance and caution to maintain a critical perspective.


Morris' 1972 moved from panoramic shots of the Munich stadium and Olympic village to interviews with Siger, in his car and his office. Siger was filmed in very shallow depth of field, so that a statue of a long nosed Pinocchio could shimmer somewhat out of focus at the side of the image. It was a curious image, straddling a spectrum of emotion from inconsequential to the unconscious and traumatic. Once noticed it seems like it must be staged, and yet it seems to be too crude and obvious to be anything other than actuality: a prop that happened to be in the room. It thus functions curiously, both as environmental accident and as an eruption of the unconscious and traumatic. 

1972 is also characterized by a prevalence of doubling, and not just between Beijing and Munich. The Olympic stadium is constantly juxtaposed with its architectural model, once a utopian vision of events to come but now a historical record of a catastrophe it fails to mention. Titles and credits are also doubled in red and white as if there are two films to be seen here, two identically named crews working towards different ends by making strangely identical films. Put differently: this is a rewarding film but one that seems uncertain about its own identity and location. If Morris' paintings, also on show here, expand to fill a wall in response to the same theme, then what does the focus and restraint here say about the role of film in her practice? 

If there is an artists' Olympic aesthetic in these two pieces, then it of course has the films of Leni Riefenstahl as its most obvious and problematic precurser. As these artists create ways of dispersing the Olympic event, showing its repetitions, its before and after, the constructed complex of its images and rituals, so Riefensteil can be seen to prompt a series of worrying questions about whether these decisions of the artists are creating an alternative space, or a more powerful depiction of the Olympic events dominant appearances and messages. 


I seemed to be exactly half-way between a book and an exhibition...

Thinking about Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster's NOCTURAMA* catalogue prompted a series of thoughts on the role of the book and catalogue, particularly once the exhibitions and practices they document are no longer concerned with retrospective collections of objects. DGF's Nocturama* catalogue - I suggest here - built on the legacy of Philippe Parreno's Alien Affection monograph,  showing how the book could fulfill many of the traditional functions of the conventional retrospective exhibition, but remain engaged in the present.   

Philippe Parreno's thoughts on the role of books within his practice emerges again in the just-published book of conversations with Hans Ulrich Obrist. I seem to be mentioning these books all the time at the moment, and I'm obviously not alone in wondering about the function the ever expanding series of books might play. Jennifer Allen has a funny and slightly hysterical piece about Obrist in the September issue of Frieze which, rightly, observes that as interviews are a primary  historical document, Obrist is Vasari-like inserting himself into every future study of art in the twenty-first century.

But back to Parreno and books, and the connection of books and exhibitions through a certain conception of reading. For example, Parreno writes of Jean-Francois Lyotyard's 1985 exhibition at Centre Pompidou, Les Immatériaux:

It was a superb exhibition. It provided a reading experience. The catalogue... was printed on slips of paper. It was made up of a series of exchanges between different people during a period of time. A sort of intranet had been set up. That was the first time the internet was used as a tool, not as an icon, but as a tool.(16)

A connection to reading prompts accusations that the exhibition is too literary or philosophical, but actually, Parreno claims, this was avoided because Les Immatériaux "was an exhibition producing ideas through a display of objects in a space. It was very different from writing a book or developing a philosophical concept." (17)

One of the advantages of conversation as a critical commentary is how it values the improvisatory, intuitive, and contradictory in its desire, at its best, to respond in the moment. A few moments later Parreno observes:

Books are great exhibition displays... maybe the fundamental experience of reading will become fundamental again. Reading is also a physical state; it demands a particular attention, a floating attention.  The moments when you disconnect from the reading, when you start dreaming, are very pleasant. You are at once inside you're head imagining things while you're being spoken to. (18)

How this relates to the tactile phenomenology of picking up and manipulating the book object can be seen in Parreno's comments on magazines:

I love to read magazines. The cut-up of the magazine offers possibilities of very open readings, but without the articulation or the need for a classical narrative arch. (19)

Throughout the conversations in this volume, Parreno outlines both book projects, and roles the catalogue can or cannot play. In the later category, Parreno notes that The Trial of Pol Pot (1998) - a show curated with Liam Gillick - did not have a catalogue, partly due to the exhibitions need to avoid judgement and because "Publishing archives has its own para-scientific vocabulary." (23) 

As for project ideas Parreno has developed specifically for book form, these often involve subjects where the archive meets the history of representation and is followed into the present: say, the history of medical representation, or a volume "on the manner in which men have rationalized their relation to their waste" (18), which, he says, would make "a beautiful book, a book of landscapes and of very spectacular spaces" (18) - a quote which Parreno seems to be applying equally to the book form and to its subject. 

A final projected project on zoos further highlights the role of books as a productive, historical and also somewhat anachronistic way of gathering diverse material together. Artist and book like the visitor staring at the animal in its enclosure. Book like the wild animal brought into the city. Exhibition like zoo. No normal catalogue but an artists book of actual hoof and paw and horn prints.    

So, where are we in thinking through these relationships? The book and the exhibition become conjoined by a notion of reading. The book can be an exhibition, even if it is probably best that the exhibition not become a book (although Alison Knowles' Book of Bean could make a useful intervention at this point). Although it seems intuitive, the precise nature of the kind of spatial experience created - creatable - by the book and the exhibition respectively - emerges from this book as volatile and uncertain. 

Maybe there is also a utopian desire at work here, an energy between the individual book and all possible books/ the idea of the book. Both Gonzalez-Foerster and Parreno discuss with Obrist that their respective books of conversations could be exhibitions or art works. And, yet, whilst these books are more thoughtfully composed and constructed than some in the series, they end up looking like books of interviews normally look like, somewhat perfunctory. But the idea is still potent. 


The Conversation Series 14: Philippe Parreno and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln.ISBN: 978-3-86560-340-1. 


Gregg Bordowitz, Fast Trip Long Drop (1993)

In  "Present Tense", a short essay included in his collection The Aids Crisis is Ridiculous and other writings 1986-2003, Gregg Bordowitz writes in an attempt to respond to "the associations set in motion by a medical procedure." (142) Although the operation had been filmed he declined a copy of the video knowing he would use it in his work. Bordowitz explains why he wanted the experience to become artistically present in language rather than in images:

I never wanted to reduce the exploratory nature of my work to such a literal exposition. I preferred a textual description that wouldn't be overwhelmed by a sensational depiction of my body's interior - that can be encountered only as an abstraction through language and never a truth reduced to biological documentation. (142)

What is also striking about "Present Tense" is its role in Bordowitz's shift from the activism of his involvement with ACT UP to an engagement that came from a more explicit engagement with the lyrical and the poetic. In an earlier essay, "Operative Assumptions", Bordowitz - seeking to make clear his attitudes and assumptions before completing his video Fast Trip, Long Drop (1993)- observes how, as a student, "I made a commitment against any mystifying practices assigning privilege to an author, a figure, a signature, a gesture. I resisted the notion of the artist as a lonely alienated soul" (91). Bordowitz goes on to observe his own anxiety at what this necessary critical stance may have neglected:

Has my opposition to some formulations of expressionism enabled me to ignore the presence of my own unconscious? Has it limited my ability to understand the role of my unconscious? There have been times in the recent past when I repressed my own ambivalences in order to convey a sense of certainty in my activist work. When I was most intensely involved in AIDS activist politics, I was unable to admit any sense of doubt in my work. Doubt, uncertainty, and contingency were temporarily removed from my vocabulary. 

This was not a crime. I feel more curious than guilty reflecting on the limits of my previous efforts. Circumstances seemed to demand it, and now I understand why. It was necessary for me to focus on the problems of representation concerning people with AIDS in general rather than become mired in the circumstances of my own infection - the arena in which I experience fear about the future. 

This was a good but inefficient means of coping.  It left much unattended.  Now, I must post new questions or maybe formulate some answers. (93)

Fast Trip Long Drop (1993)

What strikes me about "Present Tense" is the degree to which this shift is mapped onto a shift of media from film to poetry/ writing. It was evident when Bordowitz talked at the LUX in May this year, alongside screenings of Fast Trip, Long Drop and Habit (2001) that, together with a curated selection of books, formed the exhibition Gregg Bordowitz: Conflicting Tendencies at  LUX 28. Although presented as a video-maker, Bordowitz talked of his focus on writing poetry and read from a prose work comprising a series of questions. It prompted the thought that themes of activism and lyricism are becoming combined through an exploration of pedagogy.

But to what extent are these different needs, these different intersections of self, artist, art work and public, confined to different media? Certainly the different ways of working of film and poetry could suit different desires for engagement and rhythms of daily life.  I think there's often a useful idealization that comes from shifting media - certainly John Baldessari seems to be possessed of this point of view in his interview with Doug Aitken in Broken Screen when he talks of his envy of poets, the freedom they acquire from being off any cultural radar.  As, too, artists - think of the poetry of Jonas Mekas - often don't engage with what could seem to be the equivalently minded group in their new medium. Perhaps it's a need for a medium where they are not so immediately aware of all the different groups, factions, scenes, and opportunities. 

An engagement with different media can lead to the development of different responses and styles in exploration of a single concern, often moving in what can seem contradictory directions.  If Bordowitz's poetry provides space for a more formal, philosophical, abstract and lyrical language, then working through the same issues in his video work produces what he presented at LUX as the contents of his hard drive: work beginning with deliberately touristic images of Vienna - deliberately, he said, similar to what his students would take and post on flickr.  Perhaps it is in the combination of these divergent explorations that the developments in his work can come.  

Monday, 25 August 2008


Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Round Tower (ca 1749-50)

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Hans Ulrich Obrist, The Conversation Series 12, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln., 2008. ISBN: 978-3-86560-334-0

What follows is not a review but an exploration of the following quotation and the excitement it prompted in me:

The latest exhibition was a chance for me to write a kind of text in space, a visual text that would tell a story. That's why I called it Roman de Münster. And this brings me to another point, which I think also comes through in the interviews: the connection between space and text. I think there's a constant to and fro between the two: some texts produce space and some spaces produce text... I have the feeling that the connection between text and space is why I'm so fascinated by architecture and literature - and by moments when literature produces  architecture and vice versa. Maybe this is what fascinated Borges, too, because many of his texts produce incredible spaces.(175)

This quote from Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster comes from The Conservation Series 12, the latest volume of Hans Ulrich Obrist's ongoing interview project. Gonzalez-Foerster wonders aloud "It would be interesting to see whether we could produce a kind of space, or relation to space, with this book." But what kind of space would this be? 

What distinguishes this volume from most of the others in the series - and connects it to the simultaneously published volume on DGF's friend and collaborator Philippe Parreno - is the way the collaborative nature of DGF's own art-making informs a book where dialogues become trialogues, and where - particularly in encounters with the novelists Enrique Vila-Matas and Edgardo Cozarinsky - she becomes interlocuter and participant rather than being simply subject. In another variation on the interview paradigm, a conversation with Nicolas Ghesquière becomes a chance for the artist and fashion designer to reflect on their own ongoing collaboration with Ghesquière's Balenciaga fashion house. But what kind of space is all this producing?

A kind of text in space, a visual text that would tell a story... 

A constant to and fro between the two: some texts produce space and some spaces produce text... 

Moments when literature produces architecture and vice versa... 

The trialogue, or the changing relationship of interview and subject, can be understood as the moment where a space thought to be clearly perceived by the eye, whose proportions suggest ways of relating that the experience of the space does not surprise or upturn, begins to become something stranger. In the history of art we could think of Piranessi, or - a practice much closer to DGF's own - the installations of Monika Sosnowska, whose work, as Adam Budak observes, in the catalogue for her show at Kuntsmuseum Liechtenstein, is:

Oscillating between non-regularity and deformation, dysfunction and architectural abuse... [it] challenges the formal aspects and emotional intensity of spaces and spatial environments. Multiplying and proliferating spaces, her work performs a struggle with a certain precisely defined system of architecture (its geometric variables, but also social objectives and site conditions). 

Possibly perceived as an attempt to escape architecture and its imprisonment in function and functionality, her work employs an extended vocabulary of spatial surgeries that manly belong to a catalogue of architectural and constructive misfortunes: a failure, a trap, a parasite, a ruin... 

[The installation work Loop] develops yet another set of spatial treatments: a cut through, a negative, a radical compression of available space, a particular act of reversal. Loop, as a flexible and controlled space, with its deconstructive drive and rare processing of memory, marks an ambitious attempt to confront modernist universalized patterns and to escape dimensions. It is a radical act of constructing a subjective space, a sensual, partly oneiric, mental shell of contemplation and desire. Welcome to a seance of phenomenological spatio-therapy. (33)

Monika Sosnowska, Loop (2007)

Budak's essay elucidates Sosnowska's work - and this spatial condition - by referencing a range of writers, including Perec, Borges, Calvino, and Robbe-Grillet.
But how precisely do texts convey different senses of space? 

In texts we can find equivalents for such disruptions on the level of the book, the page, the sentence or the word, and in all states in-between. Texts whose reading requires labyrinthine movements of the eye, new negotiations with the space of page and book. Although long out of print, Richard Kostelanetz's stunning anthology Essaying Essays: Alternative Forms of Exposition (1975) laid an attempted groundwork for a tradition of such writing, but the connections it makes between writers working in visual art, criticism, performance, poetry, and image-text are rarely collected together. 

Indeed, understanding textual-space as effecting the visual layout of the typography is a marginal tradition. More usually - and this is also the case in the writers DGF references - we have texts for whom fantastic architectures are more a matter of their meaning and ideas than their page design or grammar.  

All of which produces many questions: 

How labyrynthine can a conventionally constructed text become? How much does the meaning have to develop in visual form? 

Are there pressures exerted upon content by form, an evolution towards a visually appropriate design? Or is the space of the text something suggested rather than embodied by the text itself, its fantastic architectures developed and pronounced in varying ways by each reader? 

It's tempting to stress a continual smooth transition and play between spaces producing text and text producing spaces. But there are also elements of each which resist translation, and where, to maintain a sense of space and text, we have to posit both a radical similarity and a difference. Rather than negating our subject, however, this is where the relationship of space and text can be at its most fruitful. Hollis Frampton's film Poetic Justice (1971), comprises shots of each page of a handwritten shooting script, placed on a table between a cup of tea and a pot plant. As Frampton observed: 

Realizing the scenario would destroy its crucial ambiguities... "Outside the window is an inverted saucepan", well, where is that saucepan? In the space outside the window. Is it on the sill? Is it a hundred yards away? The difference between the spatial close-up and the psychological close-up is easy to sustain as a tension in language because the declarative sentence itself separates the figure from the ground. It's not so easy to sustain an ambiguity of that type in film. If you're actually photographing, you can't have "six or seven zebras." (Screen Writings: Scripts and Texts by Independent Filmmakers ed.Scott MacDonald, 51) 

Indeed, the particular entwining of space and text that Frampton suggests, can also be related to DGF's own sense of architecture and space, expressed elsewhere in The Conversation Series 12 as a desire for spaces characterized by potential, possibility and by replacement of distinct subject-object relations with a desire for enveloping:

...the relation to an object or a thing is all too obvious a relationship. I prefer to be in a relationship with something that's around me, but which I am, at the same time, myself around. I'd rather explore that kind of complex situation. There are many examples of enveloping works that allow for - at the same time and at certain moments - being outside of them. There's an entire history of works like that... architecture is just that: you go out, you go in, and so on. That's the particular quality I'm after. 

For me, the exhibition becomes fossilized when a series of objects are lit up like so many dots.  Whereas it is freed when the idea of moving through the exhibition becomes a decisive factor: when different sensorial levels are called upon; when we don't remain stuck on the optic, scopic impulse; and where our actions are conditioned by what we hear. This synesthesic dimension is fundamental. If we remain purely scopic... we lose so many dimensions. (38)

Friday, 22 August 2008




Let's get practical. There are no caves in Whitechapel. What daily use can I make of Robert Smithson's Underground Cinema? A comment of Henry Flynt's - reprinted alongside his "Exercise Awareness-States" in the recently published The Aesthetics of Risk (ed. John C.Welchman, JRP Ringier, 2008) is useful here: "I converted science fiction into yoga, so to speak." (377) Could I do the same with the Underground Cinema? 

Flynt's detailed introduction to his scores outlines two meanings of exercise. In the first it prepares the person exercising for "dangerous situations" - although these may well be unpredictable by nature so the specificity of training to avoid particular catastrophes is perhaps best replaced by the cultivation of a general state of mental alertness and open mindedness. 

Flynt's second category is exercise  "for its own sake... as an unusual way of appreciating one's sensory data while in them." His own Exercise Awareness-States scores focus on this second state, whilst being open and moderated by the presence of the former. In each case he provides a situation and a set of instructions, inviting the participant to enact the following process:

First place oneself in the situation, anticipate one of the given dangers as strongly as possible (short of getting oneself in a state of fright), be very aware of all sensory data, and be ready to figure out (quickly) whether they indicate the danger and to start defending against it. Try to achieve the greatest anticipation of and readiness for the one danger. The result is an "initial exercise awareness state." Then do the exercise anticipating two, three, etc. dangers, until one can strongly anticipate all the dangers; this is an "intermediate awareness state." 

Finally, one can do the exercise forgetting the given dangers; place oneself in the situation , try to anticipate unpredictable danger strongly (short of getting oneself frightened), without preconceptions as to what form it will take, be very aware of all sense data, and be ready to figure out (quickly) whether they indicate a danger and a defense against it. This is an "ultimate exercise awareness state."(379-80)

What follows lacks the structure of Flynt's scores - which present a situation - "You walk across the floor of a medium-sized, brightly lighted square room..." - and then list a number of dangers the walker (reader) should anticipate. In fact, I suspect Flynt would be horrified at the lack of specificity in applying his ideas to what follows. 

But I'm interested in connecting the dynamics of Flynt's scores - situation, anticipation of danger, imagination, the tension between moment and change - to Smithson's Cavern Cinema. Flynt stresses the importance of not being distracted whilst doing the exercises, suggesting their enactment in an "environment as inanimate, quiet, odorles, etc. as possible" (380). 

There is a connection here to cinema and the cavern cinema, but, on other hand, this is also the environment of the most all-consuming distraction of all...


A friend, preferably one who often falls asleep in the cinema, sits in a chair. I read the following text aloud. The text is challenge to them: it can be a description or it can be made irrelevant by their posture and behavior.. It can stimulate or it can discipline. To suggest the space of the cinema, shine a torch in the sitters face whilst reading.  

READER: The ultimate film-goer would be a captive of sloth. Sitting constantly in a movie house, among the flickering shadows, his perception would take on a kind of sluggishness. He would be the hermit dwelling among the elsewheres, forgoing the salvation of reality. Films would follow films, until the action of each one would drown in a vast reservoir of pure perception. 

He would not be able to distinguish between good or bad films, all would be swallowed up into an endless blur. He would not be watching films, but rather experiencing blurs of many shades. Between blurs he might even fall asleep, but that wouldn't matter. Soundtracks would hum through the torpor. Words would drop through this languor like so many lead weights. 

This dozing consciousness would bring about a tepid abstraction. It would increase the gravity of perception. Like a tortoise crawling over a desert, his eyes would crawl across the screen. All films would be brought into equilibrium - a vast mud field of images forever motionless. (Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, 141-142) 




In the cavern cinema they are showing all the bits of films that I slept through. It is odd that such moments seem familiar, whereas the rest of the films - screening to large audiences back up on ground level - do not seem at all familiar. 

In the cavern cinema it is necessary that someone always be sleeping to ensure the projector keeps functioning.  To poke someone and try to wake them up, is to risk tearing the film. In fact, the opposite behavior is necessary, sleeping pills pass mouth to mouth to ensure the sleeping upon which continued projection depends. 

In the cavern cinema, this mix of sleeping and waking means that all films have the appearance of an early surrealist classic. In the cavern cinema, each cinema goer has to be their own confectionary...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


Photo of Stockhausen by Betty Freeman. 

Thinking about Robert Smithson's underground cinema, I was also reading Jonathan Cott's Stockhausen: Conversations with the Composer, following the recent Stockhausen Day on August 2nd at the London Prom's. What was most striking about the different pieces performed was how Stockhausen's explorations of particular aspects of sound - say, directionality as important a constituent of music as tone or melody -  led to the creation of particular theatrical forms and experiences.

So, for example, Stimmung (1968) finds six performers singing overtones while sat cross-legged on cushions, whilst Kontakte (1959-60) sees a pianist and a percussionist in a tense, unequal and somewhat macho contest with a sound projection. The evening opened and closed with two performances of Gruppen (1955-57), comprising three separate orchestras, each with their own conductor. To stand in a narrow gangway between two of the orchestras was to experience sound not only through its directionality, but also through a heightened connection to the physical acts and gestures of the performers only an arms reach away.

Cott's book of interviews offers much elucidation of Stockhausen's interest in a music responsive to space. Most striking, in the context of underground cinema, however, is Stockhausen's "underground concert hall", as realised in a concert at the caves of Jeita, Lebanon in 1969. As Stockhausen narrates to Cott:

S: The lower caves were discovered at the end of the last century. And only ten years ago a man named Sami Karkabe came upon the upper cave which is more than a mile long and filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Three years ago they built a 100-yard-long tunnel connecting the outside of the cave to the inside. There's a remnant of a human bone encased in stones at the entrance - and fossils, too, - about 40 million years in the layers of the mountain!

Is this the underground film-maker? Is this the movie maker as spelunker, the intrepid figure in the Sports Illustrated photo appended to Smithson's Cinema Cavern proposal? Did Smithson know what Stockhausen was up to?

We performed From the Seven Days and several versions of Spiral on the first night. There were 180 small speakers hidden in the rocks, and as the audience walked through the cave, we very softly played Stimmung over the speakers. Everyone became silent - it was like entering the womb of existence; or, as I said to someone there, it was as if there were a fantastic hole in the stomach of God. 

Q:Is film projected through a fantastic hole in the stomach of God? A: Some films are and some films aren't. 

It took about twenty minutes to walk to the inner section which opened up like a grand cathedral; a Lebanese architect designed a concrete snakelike path between the stalagmites and stalactites. And you walked up several staircases until you arrived at the upper dome, which is where we made the music. Everyone sat against the walls on this path - there was an audience of about twelve hundred persons each night. The musicians were somehow in the centre on a circular platform about 150 yards away from some of the listeners. And the speakers, as I said, circled us in the rock walls about 80 yards distance from the musicians. 

If Smithson had built the cavern cinema, there would have been a point where the rigidity of his projector and screen would have troubled him, and he would have returned to the surface for the sole purpose of taking delivery of a shipment of mirrors.

We performed Stimmung, Hymnen, Telemusik, and Kurzwellen. And we had a hard time getting shortwaves there; we had to lay a mile-long cable through the cave in order to reach the outside. What was fantastic was that the reverberation time for a loud sound was seven to eight seconds, but when the next sound occurred, the reverberation time came so much later that it didn't destroy the music, though each sound had a long tail, so to speak. 

I had a control desk which enabled me to move the sounds which were flying through like prehistoric dragons - I could make a sound cross several hundred yards from left to right. We had spotlights on the musicians - the rest of the cave was dark - and when you looked down from the circular platform about a hundred yards deep you could see through a hole an underground river which was lit by several projection lights. The caves made the music sound both prehistoric and also like something out of science fiction.

Let's screen Kuosawa's Ikuru, followed by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Two very different kinds of prehistoric dragon, but both definitely flying through.

André Masson and Max Ernst came to the concerts. On the first night I shouted their names, and the musicians answered and started transforming these sounds: Ma-ax. He later told me that at that moment it seemed as if he had died and was hearing his name on entering a new world. 

C: It sounds like Charon taking you across the river Styx.

How can we create this sense of calling between images? How can we give these images the qualities of names, but names broken into syllables, become calls from the dead? 

S: Yes, it was like that. I was shivering on the outside and hot inside. The audience was transported. People said that it sounded like the music from Atlantis or of a distant star. They looked at the musicians as if they were ghosts in some supraconscious dream... (191-192)

The ghosts are former stars of silent cinema. Fearing for their fame they ask: what images will never be visible here?