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David Berridge

YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S DOWN THERE
A Fantasia for The Cavern Cinema


CAST


Any number of performers of any species.


Robert Smithson


Steve McQueen


The Greenwich Foot Tunnel


The Paris Police


Max Ernst


Voices (various)


Karl Stockhausen


A Typewriter


Vinko


An Angry Crowd


SCENE ONE


Long before the atopic cinema and the cavern cinema, I
screened continuous loops of Bullitt in the lifts of the
Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Robert Smithson had sent me a
postcard which I took as a proposal or a prompt:


Even more of a mental conditioner than the movies, is the
actual movie house. . . . [T]he physical confinement of
the dark box-like room indirectly conditions the
mind . . . time is compressed or stopped inside the movie
house, and this in turn provides the viewer with an
entropic condition. To spend time in a movie
house is to make a “hole” in one’s life.


I improvise a hundred ways of making a hole in one’s
life. The exact kinds of hole are open to the individual
performer but should include: artistic holes, culinary
holes, inadvertent holes, critical holes, and, for the
finale, a hole’s hole.


SCENE TWO


[Max Ernst is boarding a plane]


Woman’s voice: Were you already familiar with…?


Max Ernst: …with Stockhausen’s works? Yes, of course. I
attended the first concert he gave in Paris. And for
example, he found that… He said: "Everything you are
creating, even your latest works, can already be found in
the Harmonielehre." He gave me very clear explanations
about what an inversion is: mirror inversion and… so on…
And really it was… I was creating such things, I mean,
this sort of experiences. Of course I did not Know
Schönberg’s Harmonielehre, because painters never read
what is written about music. Neither do musicians about
art… In fact, I do not read theoretical writings neither
about art, nor about music. One shuts one’s eyes on
theory.


SCENE THREE


Smithson had always known what was going on in my life.
Right now, I needed a hole. I was in Paris, after reading
the following in The Guardian:


Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinemacum-
restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern
underneath the capital’s chic 16th arrondissement . . .
beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the
Eiffel Tower. After entering the network through a drain
next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a
tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.


Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV
camera set to automatically record images of anyone
passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs
barking, “clearly designed to frighten people off,” the
spokesman said. Further along, the tunnel opened into a
vast 400 sq meter cave some 18 m underground, “like an
underground ampitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock
and chairs.” There the police found a full-size cinema
screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety
of films, including 1950s film noir classics. . . .


There was Robert Smithson, too, wearing sunglasses,
typing away. He got up at one point and got into a
sailing boat and sailed away down the sewer. I took the
piece of paper from the typewriter and read what it
contained:


Memories have a way of trapping one’s notion of the
future and placing it in a brittle series of mental
prisons. . . . The “time traveler” as he advances deep
into the future discovers a decrease in movement, the
mind enters a state of “slow motion” and perceives the
gravel and dust of memory on the empty fringes
of consciousness. Like H.G. Wells [The Time-Machine], he
sees the “ice along the sea margin”—a double perspective
of past and future that follows a pro-jection that
vanishes into a nonexistent present. I have constructed
some replicas of such perspectives, but I find they tell
me less and less about the structure of time. The
perspectivism of my esthetic has caved-in. . . .


This was terrible. I quickly left....


IN THE STREET THE OPENING SCENE OF BULITT IS RE-ENACTED.
CONCERNS OVER VIOLENT CONTENT ARE EASED BY WONDERFULLY
ORIGINAL CAR CHASES. A CALL BEGINS: MA-AX, MA-AX, MA-AX


MAX: It is like I have died and...


SCENE FOUR


[on a roadside]
VINKO: I am related to Stockhausen’s music as an
interpreter since I participated in many concerts.
[in the caves]
VINKO: Recently, there were many attempts at improvising,
free playing and so on.
[on a roadside]
VINKO: When musicians are asked to create in a collective
way, perhaps some kind of …security instructions are
finally needed, because there is no standard.
[in the caves]
VINKO: I mean, it would be possible if they all had at
least a religion, or whatever, in common. Whereas each
musician has a completely different mentality and
therefore the final result is very scattered and lacks in
unity.
[on a roadside]
VINKO: That is why choosing the musicians is then
extremely important. Extremely important. Also with
Stockhausen, for example since he has his own ensemble
that he created years ago. The musicians are used to
perform together. He is always talking with them… They
all talk together: that is they have a sort of mutual
understanding.


SCENE FIVE


[by the sea]


VINKO: That is a superficial question: if it matters that
the cave is in Lebanon or not. It is a cave in Lebanon!


A CROWD GATHERS AROUND HIM. THEY ARE ANGRY. HIS
PRIMITIVE CAVING KNOWLEDGE HAS ENDANGERED THEM
ALL.


ALL: SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER!

SCENE SIX


PARIS.


Three days later, when the police returned . . . to see
where the power was coming from, the phone and
electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in
the middle of the floor: “Do not,” it said, “try to find
us.” Patrick Alk, a photographer who has published a book
on the urban underground exploration movement . . . told
RTL radio the cavern’s discovery was “a shame, but not
the end of the world.” There were “a dozen more where
that one came from,” he said. “You guys have no idea
what’s down there.”


SCENE SEVEN


STOCKHAUSEN: In this cave, the humidity of the air is
about 95% and we have an average reverberation time of 7
seconds: these are not very favorable conditions.
There are people who stay there in order to hear this
music, which becomes – certainly – more than music. When
the lights in this cave are turned off, one is in a
limitless universe. One no longer sees anything; or
rather, one sees all. One no longer sees the
insignificant things, the objects, the stones; one sees
all one wants to see, or all that one can see. I think
that the four concerts were like natural phenomena.


[The installation in the cave.]


That is too heavy! Why are you carrying it alone?


(answer in Arabic): This should be done by four men!


STOCKHAUSEN: One is always afraid before the first
performance of a piece… very afraid. If we arrive at
something we are not familiar with, or if the music does
not become banal – that is to say, part of the phenomena
that we are already familiar with – then I am pleased.
One would like to produce something, to be fertile, to be
a good instrument.


STOCKHAUSEN: And when it really does not go right, one
feels useless, one no longer wishes to eat, or to live.
But when everything goes very well, when it has worked –
that is to say, when one has given something to others,
who make eyes like this, then, I am happy. Then I say
that it came over successfully. I had this feeling
several times during these four days.


STOCKHAUSEN: My music – even for me – often gives me the
impression of being quite astounding, because I do not at
all know why it is, how it is… why this happens to me.
Strangely enough, I even feel very happy sometimes when I
fail, because I am amazed by the results.


SCENE EIGHT


VOICE1: ...Max Ernst... Max... You are here tonight… Max…
André...Masson… Are you here?… These four nights are for
you…


VOICE2: ...Max Ernst, André Masson... You have fought...
You created surrealism.... You aroused the people more
than all the politicians... Much more... Much more than
all the wise men.... You created surrealism…


THE VOICES BEGIN CALLING THE NAMES OF MAX AND ANDRE.
ROBERT SMITHSON IS SAT AT THE TYPEWRITER, WEARING
SUNGLASSES, NO LONGER WRITING. GORDON MATTA IS SAWING
THROUGH THE JEITA CAVES, AND REELS OF 1950’S FILM NOIR
BEGIN FALLING FROM THE CEILING. THE AUDIENCE BEGIN
WHISPERING:


ALL: SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER! SPELUNKER!

THE END.


CONCEPT AND CHOREOGRAPHY: David Berridge.


SOURCES:Jon Henley, “In a Secret Paris Cavern, the Real
Underground Cinema,” The Guardian,8 September. Transcript
in English of film Stockhausen and the Jeita Caves at
Stockhausen.Org. Robert Smithson Entropy and the New
Monuments, 17. Robert Smithson, The Shape of the Future
and Memory - both texts in Jack Flam ed. Robert Smithson:
The Collected Writings (University of Califoria Press,
1996).