Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gridlock in the basement

On one of my more meandering journeys today I was taken via Castle Park to G39 on Mill Lane where it was my duty to deposit berries, fir cones and crab apples as a token offering to The White Stag who resides there. On entering the building I was distracted by a mysterious sound coming up through an open trap door in the floor. Against my better judgement (I am not the underground type) I descended a steep flight of steps into the bowels of the gallery where the smell of damp immediately hit my sensitive nostrils.

Here in this airless and limited space I made myself comfortable on the little bench provided and watched a short and curious film which depicted the monotonous drone of traffic in the heart of a city. Usually I go to great lengths to avoid such an experience, sitting in traffic that is, not watching experimental films, and I found myself looking around nervously from time to time hoping that no one would close the hatch on me. I played out the scenario that would ensue if I had been trapped down there and started to feel a little breathless.

As it was, the sense of entrapment became palpable as the cars on the screen idled along, nose to bumper in an endless procession, seeming to drive directly towards me at times. A driver, unable to move, stared rudely at me for an unprecedented amount of time before passing by. Little scenarios occurred: a lone individual stood at a bus stop conversing on her mobile adding to the dislocation I was feeling from the world. Pockets of humanity were present but cut off, stranded by the wall of metal and noise.

Through this unsettling sound filtered a woman's voice singing 'Que Sera, Sera (What ever will be, will be)', as if to herself, which was both soothing and frustrating as she was barely audible. And then a beautiful thing happened. The point of view switched to rolling clouds in the sky, albeit through the sun roof of a vehicle. I could almost feel the cushioned warmth of the seat, laid back for my comfort as I viewed my little rectangle of paradise. This sequence of cloud is probably extended in my memory, such was its power to calm and soothe. Was the drone of traffic muffled or was there complete silence? I do not remember.

The reflection of dashboard paraphernalia did not lessen my pleasure but reminded me of how lucky I was to be in my cosy cocoon. Memories of my walk in the park came to life as a woodland scene evolved from the clouds. A large dog stood stock still and focused on something out of shot while light seeping through the forest canopy created a stunning and dreamlike ripple of motion over him.

But all good things must come to an end, and the jumble of cars returned to the screen once more, accompanied by their hateful noise. The spell was broken and it was time to move on.

No comments: