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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

LAST weekend at the art gallery

butterfly prism

Held in an old water processing plant along the Vltava River, the Labyrint Svetla (labyrinths of Light) is an interactive art exhibit that used light/color/darkness/sound to entertain, intrigue, and perhaps educate. I went there with Cal, a fellow teacher and citizen of the world. Cal has that wonderful efficiency of all-together joy of daily life, catching with the net of his five senses whatever can be grabbed.

pumphouse machines

Very kid friendly were most of the pieces in the Labyrint Svetla, and Cal and me acted like kids that day: you looked through windows to see colors and shadows; played with grates to shift light; pedaled a bicycle to make organ music; moved objects around a glass surface that reflected light from beneath to cast shadows onto a wall.

Cal playing with light

What was most intriguing was the art space itself. The building, is brickwork, and its design and craftsmanship have made an art piece itself. In one room you can see the aged pipes and pumping machineworks that made the place operate. In another room floor-mounted glass let you look into the bowels of this great structure.

Cal again

The basement levels were the most exciting, though. Down here, the air was a steady 50 degrees, dank damp & dungeon-like. The chambers where sluice gates operated water intake had high ceilings, shadowy sightlines, and rounded archways. The main lower chamber is something out of a gothic novel (or at least Victorian): a long pool over which grating stood the floor; chains and ropes and wires hung from the blacked-out ceiling; a lifting girter hung imposingly over the pool; and the water’s surface was mirrorlike in the near dark.

fluted vessels

Then light played along one end of this grand fetid pool: a turning wheel, letters shining white into the water, the lights power sending word shadows deep into the pool, so you saw echoes of light reaching down, like a school of fish, each lower tier a little less colorful, a little more translucent.

spiral sphere

Here too was a great echo chamber of sound, and Cal hooted through the room, getting quick answers from activated kids.

double decker bus

Outside, with the light a gray haze that stunded sight, warmth returned after many minutes below. Outside stood an old English double-decker bus, now (or just for the day) a tea & snack stand. Along one side stood great steel spheres, its surface cut through with designs that produces surprisingly tinny sounds when wacked with an umbrella point, or a rock, or keys, sending the sound down through air shafts into yet another subterranean chamber.

the spheres

Cal and I discussed points where the curators missed: darker rooms to get better rendition of the light machines; music in the basement chambers, perhaps Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” or something strangly otherworldy, maybe whale sounds during a cow’s calving. A final exchange of thoughts brought the idea of buying such a place, establishing an art colony within, and sticking all the writers in the dungeon-like basement.

many moons

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