I Want To Be Alone
Anthony Gormley's Blind Light exhibition.
Hayward Gallery, London, July 2007.
Basically, it was a box maybe 20 by 40 ft(?) filled completely with dry ice (thick vapour mist/fog). As soon as you walk in you can barely see a few inches in front of you. Pretty stunning. I've experienced something similiar at Sunn0))) shows but this was much more powerful.
As you can see from the photos, dry ice was flowing just outside of the box entrance. The excitement was shared by most of us waiting to go in, although a woman before me decided not to enter at the last second because she'd seen other people's hair frizzed a little by the moisture and didn't want to look imperfect. Ha.
When I reached the front of the queue, I stepped forward slowly and in a couple seconds was completely immersed in the fog.
A strange feeling of panic almost instantly overwhelmed me. I guess it's from the combination of losing sight of where you are, and adjusting to the vapour in the air which for a little while made breathing feel kind of weird. There's a strong instinct to turn around and return to the safe environment of outside. I couldn't resist looking back to see behind me but there was no way I was leaving just yet.
The loss of sight can't be exagerrated. Same as closing your eyes only it's light (not bright like looking at a bulb though) and every now and then someone else's blurred faded form will pass or even bump into you. Even when you approach a wall you can't see it till you make contact and nothing beyond the wall was visible.
Once I overcame the initial panic and calmed down, a new effect began to happen. I knew I was in a box but there's a feeling of being in an infinite space.
The entrance girl said most people usually find a wall and follow it around but that seemed too easy. I roamed about for a while in different directions, maybe trying to get lost. There was pretty much a constant supply of laughing, talking and other vocalisations from others exploring in there. Kind of imposed on my experience.
I wanted to be alone.
Decided to leave before the effect wore off. Soon as I came out I had to re-adjust to the outside again but there was a sensation I've never had before and probably never will again. A total clearness in my mind and through all my body. Like I was in the air, part of the air, a ghost, not flesh and blood. It lasted for 15 minutes or so and I'd have gone in again to come out and feel that ...but we had to leave and meet friends.
It's purity and simplicity will be one of the bolder memories I keep through time. Was fun to see adults return to looking around with wide eyes and curiosity exactly like the children around them.