Thursday, December 14, 2006

FIRST SPHERE: SIRIUS

Finding the centre...





A very big Christmas present

Practical joke: 99 red spheres...

Ultramarine blue: How they really should be!


Unpacking Sirius. The biggest sphere.



Lita and Sirius in two halves


Assembling


Drilling to harness Sirius


Sirius installed. 98 stars to go...



Sophie & Simon

Today is a momentous day, we have been here one week exactly, and tonight we put up the first sphere: the largest one, four feet in diameter, the one aligned to the star SIRIUS. We have started our night shift, the first full one. After a three-hour nap, we have "breakfast" (dinner for everyone else, curry soup, bread, salad) around 5:30 p.m. then head out once more straight toward our site. Simon, Jean and I on our skidoos, Lionel and Sophie in the Pisten Bully carrying our gear. The road straight onward toward Pegasus road, over the sea ice and in the speed of the skidoos is once more, and always, exhilarating. I stop to get my camera out even with the speed and the cutting wind, I have got to show what this experience is like, the vast expanse of the white, the straight lined flagged route with red flags, the exhilaration of driving in the middle of what seems to be a volcanic lake, in the middle of the sea ice, surrounded by white mountain ranges, as if we are in the middle of the earth, little insects speeding along the white expanse, black marks from the air, black marks after a little distance really, and the sense of scale gets obfuscated by our own senses, what seems to be common sense and what we are experiencing, we lose each other quickly in the expanse, then speed up of course, and catch up with one another. In the distance is our camp: the bright orange/yellow tent we had put up the night before and the large sled with all six of our cardboard crates in the middle of the landscape. Somehow the slow Pisten Bully has arrived before us, and Lionel and Sophie are waiting behind their film cameras to shoot us as we drive in. They too, are small marks on the landscape until we make the wide turn onto our site.

8:00 P.M. - 1:00 A.M.
The light at this time of "night" is exquisite and ever changing. At one point Erebus reveals itself behind a cloud and we are overwhelmed at its beauty. It is quiet, very quiet, except for the crunch of our footsteps in the sugary powder snow. The first order of things is for Simon and I to find the "center" of the site around which the entire map will be created. We walk for a while until I "feel" the right spot. " You are spot-on" Simon tells me in his clipped Cockney accent, as the 500 feet away from the edge I intuited is what as we had calculated was going to be correct. I love those mathematical precisions that come intuitively.

The next few hours feels like what they call in childbirth "transition" the worst pain ever, where you wish you had never thought of this idea to begin with, where you curse every possible curse in the book as Simon, Jean, Sophie and I first try and put the four-foot sphere together, which halves kept falling into one another, once that is overcome, Simon, Jean and I, have to carry this very heavy, very awkward shape five hundred feet over the sugary snow where our feet sink in sometimes a foot into the snow. When we get to the site, the entire sphere falls on top of Jean, and he lays there, Charles Atlas, the globe victorious over him. Nothing prepares us for the next three hours. Drilling the hole is no problem, the snow is like sugar, we think we have it licked, then comes the time to lift the awkward-god- knows- how-many-pounds sphere by its post and by our shoulder strength, we all crouch under it and lift it with our shoulders, then direct the post into the hole. Well, it does not go in all the way. No matter how many times we dig it, the snow is so fine it acts as sand, and keeps filling up the hole, every time we have to lift it out and away, and back again. We think we have finally found a method, by taking one of our posts and pounding it in and using it as a core drill, until Simon does such a good job, that we can not take it out again. We have to go all the way back to the sled and pick up the straps and use all the man power we have to pull it out, it still does not work, and although I am ready to quit and leave it for the next day, thank god I am voted out, as everyone does it over and over again (at one point we dig too low, and it is buried slightly, we have to re do it) but no one quits until it is correctly at the level of the snow.

1:00A.M. - 2:00 A.M.
As we look at this perfect blue sphere in the middle of the whiteness with the light of the sun, at one o’clock in the morning, a sun which feels should come from another direction, the reason we had all come to the other end of the world to do this, becomes obvious right here in front of our eyes. There is no way to describe it, except to say that in its opaqueness of blue, it draws into itself all the energy of the mountains around it, as if the blue takes in all the whiteness around it and transforms the icy blue into ultramarine. In its blue opaqueness surrounded in white, with the sun behind us, our shadows are cast onto it, like in a mirror. None of this makes sense, how opaqueness can be reflective, how one blue object in the middle of the white field can embody the entire field. Perhaps it does indeed have to do with the alignment to the star Sirius, there is a resonance that occurs that is mysterious and indescribable, I feel that is all we need, this one object in the middle of space, as if it has always been there, and should always be there, as an anchor, anchoring us to the earth and to the stars. As my entire body takes it in, I am moved by it, some deeply asleep part of me is moved and is slowly, very slowly stirring. For Jean, “it reminds me of the monolith in Stanley Kubricks's 2001: A mysterious object of great beauty, the nature of which nobody knows, but which has somehow landed on the surface of the moon.” As I move back toward the truck to help Simon pack all our gear, I have engraved in my mind the image of Lionel, Sophie and Jean in the distance, being mesmerized and drawn to the quality of light it is becoming, shooting the light changing all around it, in the light that envelops all of us at two o-clock in the morning of December 15, 2006.

2 comments:

Val Kirkgaard said...

Thank God for team, vision and intention.

Paul said...

Congratulations... An exciting and worthy project. I recall meeting you a couple of years ago. Happy to see the dream realised.

Paul,
Venice