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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Tunnels

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Peter Fischli and David Weiss Kanalvideo (1992)
‘The video “shows an interminable blurry passage through circular tunnels that manages to prompt thoughts of the afterlife despite being filmed in Zürich’s sewers.’

 

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Li Songsong The One, 2012
installation, aluminum, steel, LED, oil paint

 

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Pavel Korbička HLADINA / THE LEVEL, C.E.D., 2003
catacomb light installation, neons: 200 cm, 300 cm, 500 cm

 

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Maurice Benayoun Inside the Tunnel Under the Atlantic, 1995
The Tunnel Under the Atlantic, televirtual art installation, established a link between Montreal and Paris, two towns physically distant by thousands of miles. The Tunnel enabled hundreds of people from both sides to meet. From each side, a two-meter-diameter tube, made us think of a linear crossing of our planet, as if it were dug under the ground, shouting up in the middle of the Contemporary Art Museum in Montreal on one side, and in the lower floor of the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

‘The route that lies between the two spots is no simulation of the ocean underground, it is a block of symbolic matter in which the geological strata leave the place to iconographic strata. They are layers of pictures taken in the history of the two cultures that everybody can reveal each time they dig. The collective exploration uncovers fragments of rare or familiar pictures, which are as may opportunities to wake up the collective memory of the participants. Helping us to loitering and talking to people, these remains transform everybody’s digging route into a unique experience, into a personal assemblage made up of sounds and pictures amidst a three dimensional space architectured through their moves. While digging, the visitors can talk with their partners across the Atlantic Ocean. The sounds of their voices are anchored in space and they enable everyone to find out the directions where to meet the other. I takes six days to built and pave the symbolic space before the de visu meeting of the two-continent diggers.’

 

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Atari Tunnel Hunt, 1979
‘Originally called “Tube Chase” as a vector game. Using the vector system from “Asteroids” and some software from “Night Driver”, a prototype was created where you could fly down tunnels. However, He could not do hidden line removal, and all those lines got very confusing. A hardware engineer at Atari came up with an expensive hardware that drew ellipses. Owen re-wrote the game to use that. The game looked great. Multiple tunnels with splits and rotates. But it was too expensive. Then the hardware was changed to circles, but still too expensive. Then it was changed to rectangles. That was what finally shipped. But marketing felt just flying was not fun enough, so we added ‘Star Wars’-like objects that flew down the tube at you and you had to shoot them. It was killed and brought back at least 3 or 4 times at Atari under the same name. It became ‘Vertigo’ when Exidy first took it, but they decided to pass on it when it did not test well at the arcades any more (at that time, it was only 3rd for 10 weeks!), and then finally ‘Tunnel Hunt’ at Centuri.’

 

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Wang Du The Space-Time Tunnel, 2006
Chinese artist Wang Du’s The Space-Time Tunnel, a large-scale sculptural installation, submerges the visitor into a giddying media flow. Exhibition visitors are invited to journey through a mass of newspapers and magazines combined with more than 66 TV-screens, incessantly broadcasting programmes from global television networks.’

 

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Antony Gormley PASSAGE II, 2017
PASSAGE II (2017), is a 15.5 metre-long tunnel, whose shape is modelled on a standing human form. It too is both object and experience, suggesting a correlative for the interior of the body and offering a journey into darkness and the unknown.’

 

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Cantoni-Crescenti Tunnel, 2010
Tunnel is a kinetic, immersive and interactive sculpture, composed of 92 porticos that become disordered in function of the position and body mass of the interactor. Numerous users can simultaneously enter and interact with the machine. Interactors agency the machine via their position and weight. An example of interaction is: you go into the Tunnel and stand by one of the sidewalls. In this case, the relative position and the gravitational force of your body provoke variations of floor height. The floor inclines up to 5º, the associated porticos progressively rotate in the corresponding direction and angle, and this propagates undulatory movements throughout the entire installation. For the outside observer, the internal movement or your displacement in relation to the installation produces kinetic optic effects.’

 

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Jon Rafman Balenciaga Summer 19 Show, 2018
‘According to Vogue’s Sarah Mower, the spring/summer 2019 Balenciaga show left the audience “so stunned that people were transfixed in their seats for a good few seconds after it ended.” The label’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, is certainly known for pushing the envelope when it comes to fashion and design, but what she’s referring to here isn’t so much the clothes but the setting. Even before the first look came down the runway, social media was flooded with videos of show-goers sitting in a strange, jarring tunnel, with hypnotic visuals playing across all the surfaces, including the floor and ceiling.’

 

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Plastique Fantastique Blurry Venice, 2019
‘Temporary architecture platform Plastique Fantastique distorts perception with its site-specific installation Blurry Venice, a translucent tunnel that has no defined walls or ceiling and evokes the landscape of a dream. It sits upon water, giving visitors the surreal sensation of walking on a liquid surface.’

 

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Olafur Eliasson One-Way Colour Tunnel, 2007
One-way colour tunnel is an arched walkway constructed from triangular panels of colour-effect acrylic glass and acrylic mirrors. The panels are assembled into a rugged form, with the longest triangles at the base of the tunnel and the shortest triangles forming pyramidal outcroppings on the ceiling. As visitors move through the passageway, they observe a fluctuating display of varied hues caused by the colour-effect acrylic glass, which changes tone depending on how light strikes it. When they look back, however, instead of seeing the colourful environment they just passed through, they are met with the dull black backs of the panels, with only hints of colour escaping through the interstices.’

 

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Haseeb Ahmed The Wind Egg Incubation Wind Tunnel, 2018
Fibreglass, speakers, audio mixers, cables, software, 3D print, plastic, aluminium, steal, wood, converters

 

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Brian Black Plank Track-Tunnel, 2020
‘Artist serves as a tunnel by holding the plank position over an electric train.’

 

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Daniel Arsham 300-Foot Tunnel Excavation, 2016
‘Daniel Arsham carved a path through the SCAD Museum of Art’s Pamela Elaine Poetter Gallery utilizing a series of concrete walls. The 300-foot-long series of walls starts with the cutout of an abstract shape roughly the size of a human body. As one looks at the progression of carvings and walls, the holes begin to form a representational shape, ending in the fully formed outline of a life-size human.’

 

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Uwe Boll Tunnel Rats: 1968, 2009
Tunnel Rats: 1968 (also simply known as Tunnel Rats) is a first-person shooter video game developed by Replay Studios and published by Uwe Boll under the name Boll AG on May 15, 2009. It serves as a direct video-game tie-in to the commercially unsuccessful movie of the same name directed by Boll. Rock Paper Shotgun opened its review by acknowledging Uwe Boll’s reputation for directing poorly-received film adaptations of video game franchises, and that Tunnel Rats was “excruciatingly, bewilderingly bad”; due to bugs, the reviewer was unable to make it past the second level. GamesRadar similarly criticized the game for being a “nauseating mess from start to finish”, but jokingly claimed the game itself was better than Uwe Boll’s films.’

 

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Mika Rottenberg Cosmic Generator (Tunnel Variant), 2017
‘The thematic starting point for Mika Rottenberg’s work, Cosmic Generator, is a tunnel system that establishes a trading connection between various places and actors, among them the Mexican city of Mexicali and Calexico, the Californian town on the other side of the border fence. Rumor has it that the entrance to the system can be accessed via shops and restaurants in La Chinesca, Mexicali’s Chinatown.’

Watch the video here

 

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Zhang Huan Hope Tunnel, 2010
‘When the Sichuan earthquake struck on May 12, 2008, freight train no. 21043 was passing through a tunnel in the border region between Gansu, Sichuan and Shaanxi Provinces. Loaded down with grain and aviation fuel, the train collided with a boulder, caught fire and became trapped in the tunnel’s inferno. It took workers six months to dig out the wreckage, clear the tunnel and reopen the railway line to earthquake-damaged areas of Sichuan.

‘When he heard the news reports and saw the photos of the Sichuan earthquake and the train disaster, Zhang Huan was badly shaken. Realizing that the train had both historical value and emotional resonance, he decided to try to preserve it for posterity. After a long and complicated process, the artist managed to obtain the wreckage and transport it to his studio in Shanghai for selective renovation.

‘When two large carriages of the train are installed in UCCA’s largest exhibition hall amidst railway tracks and quake debris, visitors are able to examine the wreckage and watch a documentary that follows every step of the train’s journey from a salvage company in Xi’an to Zhang Huan’s workshop in Shanghai to UCCA in Beijing.’

 

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Rubén D`Hers Chords Tunnel #1, 2015
40 acoustic guitars, cable and motors

 

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Atelier Bow-Wow Life Tunnel, 2008
‘‘Life Tunnel’ by Tokyo collective Atelier Bow-Wow is like an extruded Libeskind building made of stainless steel. You have to more or less crawl through a prismic length of tunnel, a space of sharp and crisp shapes that managed to be bright and claustrophobic at the same time.’

 

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Cindy Chinn Train, 2014
‘Using a magnifying glass and X-Acto knife, artist Cindy Chinn has carved a tiny train out of a pencil and its lead. The miniature piece is less than an inch tall and over five-and-a-half inches long, showcasing part of the locomotive barreling through a dark tunnel.’

 

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Alfredo Jaar The Divine Comedy, 2019
‘The artwork is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, and it is divided into three chambers to reflect the three sections of Dante’s poem, journeying through hell, purgatory and heaven. But before you enter the first chamber, you’re given a series of content warnings – everything from haze to loud noises and extreme heat. And if you suffer from claustrophobia, you might want to steer clear.

‘Then you’re strapped into a safety harness and walk into hell. Unsurprisingly, this is where you experience that extreme heat, and also something akin to a flood. To tell you much more than that would ruin the surprise.

‘The second room is significantly calmer and features a gorgeously strange contribution from American performance artist Joan Jonas. The third deprives you of one of your senses in a way that’s strangely more unsettling than any of the sensory overload from the first chamber. You might just find yourself intensely aware of your own heartbeat.

‘It’s easy to read whatever you want into this experience, but images of apocalypse triggered by climate change mightn’t be too far from your mind as you journey through. If the end of the world is anything like this, at least the architecture is *stunning*.’

 

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Leandro Erlich & Takeshi Spider Street Show Tunnel, 2018
‘The spider survived fights, gave birth to children, and raised them. She is a noble, brave queen. She spreads a beautiful spider web against background of the blue sky and is balancing on the center. It seemed to be a queen in a constitutional monarchy. It’s a quite dangerous that one person has the authority and political power. So in several countries are adopting the constitutional monarchy. A king or queen has authority as a symbol of the nation, and a prime minister has political power as a representative of the people. This system is quite clever because one person does not have superpower and prevent a dictatorship and also hold a relatively fair society.’

 

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Henrik Plenge Jakobsen Tunnel 1000, 1996
‘A replica of a continuous, reoccurring dream. A box of MDF board with a maze inside. It was possible for the audience to enter and crawl through the maze, guided by a light rope.’

 

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Max Siedentopf Tribute, 2021
‘While many of us have embarked on personal creative projects during the pandemic, this is surely one of the most unexpected. Siedentopf describes the initiative, entitled Tribute, as “the ultimate homage to this 21st century icon” – and that’s no exaggeration. Having dug several metres into the earth, Siedentopf plastered the walls of the tunnel with portraits of the reality star. He claims it’s “almost impossible” to find the end of the subterranean hall of fame.’

 

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Karolina Halatek Terminal, 2016
‘Terminal, the oversized light-sculpture by Polish artist Karolina Halatek, stands just like a recently landed UFO in the middle of the Rathausplatz town hall square in Gerlingen, Germany. For the site-specific sculpture, Karolina Halatek was inspired by the near-death experiences of people, who, returned from unconsciousness, reported their experiences at the threshold of death.’

 

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Jenny Holzer Monument, 2008
Twenty-two double-sided, semi-circular electronic LED signs

 

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Henrique Oliveira Parada dos quasólitos, 2013
‘Brazilian specialist of wood sculpture, Henrique Oliveira is back with a new sensational piece or, rather, a new multisensory piece. Presented in Frankfurt, at the Schirn Kunsthalle, this wooden cave confuses the visitors’ sensations by playing with their senses. Entering the small doorway, the visitor looses track of the actual exhibition space, and gets sucked into this wooden illusion. The sound of cracking wood, the touch and the strong wooden smell all participate in making it look surreal. Built from recycled tapume wood, the immersive walk-in structure conveys both a feeling of being back in the womb or walking in a bizarre dream.’

 

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Mike Kelley The Trajectory of Light in Plato’s Cave, 1985 – 1986
‘This installation is a cave or cavern. The entrance is blocked by an enormous picture with an inscription: “Crawl worm. When spelunking sometimes you have to stoop… Sometimes you have to go on all fours…Sometimes even crawl.” The spectator discovers that he does indeed have to crawl like a worm underneath the picture in order to get inside the cave. If, as the title says, this is the cave of Plato’s ultimate truths, the visitor will find a structure made of papier-mâché. First he has to pass through a curtain with a vertical red slit, like the opening of a vagina. Opposite two other pictures are hung. In one of them we can see an impression of Kelley’s body, in the other images that look like a Rorschach test. On the opposite side to the entrance, a fake fireplace raised up like an altar; at the sides large sheets of coloured material that might recall Mark Rothko. The colour of each one corresponds to the colour of a bodily fluid: excrement, urine, semen, blood.’

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Shane Christmass, Hi, Shane. Awesome, thank you in advance for the book, and congrats on it selling out. I love the Robert Wyatt era Soft Machine a lot, everything up through ‘Thirds’ basically. I was very lucky to see them live once as the opening act for Jimi Hendrix. It’s been a while, but, at the time, I liked the first few-post Wyatt Soft Machine records, but then I lost interest, I don’t remember why. I’m surprised that they could have been good as late as ’78, but I doubt I was paying attention at that point, punk having taken hold. I’ll go listen. Thanks! Excellent about the eBook. I fear that’s basically its only access nowadays. ** Misanthrope, If that’s true then I’m almost tempted to take acid and sail around inside you a la that old movie ‘Fantastic Voyage’. When it gets dark, my building’s courtyard becomes a bat velodrome. I still say if you can make Gus feel better by throwing a hundred or two bucks at him, it’s a no brainer. ** Bill, You’re right, I’m not surprised. Oh, no nerves necessary. Your work far transcends such an association. Right, the Roxie. It was fairly big, as I recall, so that’s wild if it’s selling out even in restricted form. We reopen today! I do the p.s. first thing in the morning, so I haven’t been out yet, but oh boy. That is intriguing. And I see it played in Paris even. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, the blog was thrilled to be SCAB’s megaphone. How is the new leaking format working out? Are you getting a good response? It does seem like, on the boymuse front, we are most compatible and might even have big catfights for muse owning rights, ha ha. Oh, yes, yesterday’s love had sidecar seat for you. Well, two of them since, you know, I wouldn’t mind tagging along for that little trip. Your lover wouldn’t last long with me, or I guess I mean it would spend its golden years in my stomach. Today being our reopening day, I hereby decree that love is a Parisian, G. ** T, Hi, T. Yeah, the movie theater marquees are not exactly looking like heaven’s sign posts at the moment. But hey. Give it a couple of weeks. Rice and custard buns … I don’t think I’ve ever eaten them, and they sound like an edible marriage made in heaven. Soon, quite soon, I will launch this p.s., take a quick shower, and head off for the first time into whatever Paris has become today with no set plans. I think I’ll be an easy lay today on the eyeballs-pleasuring front, but we’ll see. I love the sound of your day. It had mystery, tension, momentousness stamped all over it. Cool, the Sion Sono post will be coming up not on this coming Saturday, but on the following one, which is the 29th, I think? Have the day of days. ** Jack Skelley, I remember! I had forgotten until you piped in, but yes! Did we do it for a band, or … I forget? Wow. I do remember The Plugz. My great hero of that era, Steve Hufsteter, mastermind of The Quick, became the guitarist of The Plugz for a while post-Quick. ** David Ehrenstein, How dramatic! I think if Bacon weren’t so revered by everyone I would find his stuff more interesting, but, even then, I don’t think it would really speak to me. Shit happens. ** Right. Up there are some tunnels for your eyes and minds and etc. to trepidatiously enter. See you tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. Dennis, You know I love me some tunnels. 😀

    Ha! I was thinking of Fantastic Voyage but couldn’t remember the name, so I didn’t try and mention it. (Could’ve looked it up, though, right? Duh.)

    Yeah, I’m a take care of Gus. I usually don’t listen to my mom anyway. 😀

    Started getting the Mark Dennison novel going yesterday. Essentially just copying and pasting from the blog there and then proofreading and omitting typos and all that. I’ll be sending the first 10 episodes to the illustrator tonight so he can get a feel for how to go about his part, whether to draw per the overall feeling/motifs or per particular scenes…or both.

  2. Hi!!

    It’s strange because the posts I make about the newly dropped pieces aren’t very popular; they don’t generate much visible activity. I do get a steadier and more focused stream of submissions than before, though. So, I guess it works, just not entirely the way I imagined it would, haha.

    Hahaha, I’m afraid you’re right. That’d be pretty funny. Fighting over some boymuse who doesn’t give a shit about any of it. Thank fuck that there’re enough Vincent Kartheisers on your love’s planet for all three of us, haha.

    I wouldn’t wish anything more for this love. Being a Parisian sounds like the top thing to be right now. How did you spend your first free day? Love teleporting to Paris and buying you coffees and pastries from all your favorite places like a total gentleman, Od.

  3. Hi Dennis,

    I always found tunnels very calming places to chill out as a kid. As I remember, my favourites included a trapdoor passage beneath the stage in the church hall where my parents used to send me on Sundays. Rather than doing the activities we were meant to do, I seem to recall asking if I could go into the tunnel and be left alone with my thoughts and imaginings, but I don’t think they ever let me, though it is a long time ago. Another favourite was a concrete channel that took a stream beneath a road near my parents’ house, which again I asked/tried to crawl through repeated times, always stopped due to the syringes/condoms/miscellaneous dirt that substituted for fish or frogs or whatever is supposed to live in streams. All of which is to say, having woken up this morning feeling oddly tense and jangly, today’s crop of tunnels soothed me nicely, especially Alfredo Jaar and Karolina Hatolek with their focus on mortality. Indeed, if Hatolek’s evocation of a near death experience comes complete with the hot German twink type as in the video, you can sign me up. I also liked the big installations which were going for a dreamlike immersion, as well as those which tried to create tunnel-like structures through sound like Haseeb Ahmed. Also noted the (intended?) throwback of the first artwork to the videos created by that plumber (name escapes me) that you profiled some time ago?

    Would highly recommend the custard buns! They’re just the Chinese-style steamed buns which I buy frozen and then reheat. Warm and delicious every time, just like rice. It was indeed the second in a run of good/interesting days yesterday, and it received extra counterpoint when upon finishing my meal I went round a friend’s to watch the eurovision semi-final, which was a laugh. Looking forward to hearing how Paris has or hasn’t beautified herself ready for your return of sorts. Until next time, xT

  4. That miniature train and tunnel piece is incredible, whew.

    I’d say the Roxie is probably medium-sized for a movie theater. But for all those screenings to sell out is quite impressive. I guess people have been waiting to go out to screenings.

    Saw S-He, the animated film with the shoes. A lot of really impressive stuff, though the ending probably doesn’t work that well. It’s on mubi, not sure if you can get it in France.

    Hope you’re enjoying cafes and galleries!

    Bill

  5. When I started exploring post-Wyatt Soft Machine, I thought they were a good jazz fusion group, but there’s something a bit sterile about those albums. The experimentation of the first 2 albums and “Moon in June” got left behind pretty quick.

    How was Paris’ first day of freedom?

    To celebrate my birthday yesterday, I had a 90-minute conversation in the park with a friend I hadn’t seen since last fall, went out for Mexican food, ate a weed gummy and then watched Tom Noonan’s WHAT HAPPENED WAS… and worked on a song. (I finished it today: https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/lotto-and-fentanyl)

  6. <A HREF="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgrO5za0lSY"Here's a nice doc on Bacon

    I also recommend John Maybury’s film “Love is the Devil” with Derek Jacobi as Bacon and Danie Craig as George.

    And then of course there’s “Performance.”

    Bertoluuci’s “Last Tango in Paris” was also Bacon-inspired

  7. maggie siebert

    May 20, 2021 at 7:38 am

    hi dennis! i hope you’re well!! somehow i’ve never actually commented on one of these posts despite being a frequent reader for years. first time for everything!

    i’m sort of obsessed with the garish 3d onslaught of tunnel rats, i was mesmerized by the gameplay footage. it reminds me of the weird shovelware rednecksploitation games that my cousin and i would play growing up, at least aesthetically speaking. big soft spot in my heart for those weird digital spaces. boll’s movies are a whole other deal.

    also, forgive me if this is a dc’s faux pas, but i was wondering if i might be able to send you a copy of my book that’s coming out on expat? it’s called ‘bonding’! it’s off to the printer sometime in the morning NY time so i think we’d theoretically get them next week? no worries if you’re inundated.

  8. Tunnel Denizen: Re: Our BB light show (which was totally your idea I’m sure) :::: I don’t believe we booked an actual live band for that one. At least I can find no documentation of same in the vast but slovenly Helter archives. (We probs played your Ultimate Spinach records!) And I had forgotten — until now– that Steve Hufsteter was also in Plugz who I caught once at Vex or maybe even the Whisky. DC Blog is a Time Tunnel !!!!

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