The room was in fact so dark that in spite of allowing my eyes to adjust, as the sign suggested I do, I could see very little for a very long time.

Having been there before, on a day that the gallery was closed, but unlocked, and therefore much lighter, I was aware of what was in the space.  But having never been there, alone, in the  relentless dark, I was afraid.

I was drawn to the mirrors.  The only light except for a few red spots for exits.

As I crossed the room, I heard a rapid series of loud knockings on the wall to my right.  I froze.  I remembered that conduit is for receiving transmissions from the dead.  A photograph of me then would have shown a cariacture of fear, in mid step, clutching her bags, eyes wide and darting to see in the dark.

The mirrors were a cold light, a paltry comfort, their faces reflecting only in parts the funnelled sky,  but I could crouch down near them with my back to the wall and see all the vast expanse of space in front of me.  There was some safety at least.

The sound at first was an intermittent high pitched buzz  unrelated to my own movements.

I decided after a while to make my way past the mirrors and around the false middle wall.  I staggered along, a strong dysphoria rising within me from the pressing sounds and the darkness, and a sense that I might lose my balance.  I could not make it around the wall.  I approached the edge of an emanating darkness so black and enveloping that I could not push past it or through it, even though I did push against it, briefly.  From behind the wall another sound; the continuous rushing of wind or of time passing by; something unstoppable, potentially catastrophic.

I went back to the mirrors, and after a while I could see things.  I began to adjust.  The doorway no longer looked like a yawning cavern.  There were other lights glowing softly from behind curtains.

I went back to the false wall,  I was more confident.  I looked around the wall and it was dark there still, but not as dark.  In the far corner I could see a green sound wave undulating, monitoring or reflecting the conduit.

I saw a shape previously unseen.  It turned out to be a couch.  I went there and sat and saw that the light from the mirrors were reflecting a myriad of light circles, bubbles, on the wall.  I watched them shimmer, but only a little, hardly a shimmer, just the slightest adjustments in brightness really.  I listened to the buzz and the roar and watched the mirrors reflect the light.

I didn’t feel completely well.  I wondered if I should lie down.  I felt disoriented and overwhelmed.  Nothing was very loud, but everything was so present.  The darkness, the sounds, the light, me.  I wasn’t sure how my physical self fit there.  As a body I was an intruder somewhere so delicate; so self contained; so of the spirit.  I wanted to lie down, to surrender, to spend some indefinable period of time forgetting my body, forgetting everything but what the sounds and the darkness and the light could do, to me.  The bubbles on the wall changed from light to three dimensional shapes rimmed by shadows.  I watched and listened.  I didn’t lie down, but I wasn’t afraid.  I was still, breathing, and I was there.

Then I heard other noises.  Voices.  People talking. And I felt so vulnerable in my state, that I rushed to pick up my belongings and I left.

At the bottom of the stairs, I saw a dead bird hanging from the ceiling, suspended by a string tied around its black leg.

Open Space   

Jamie Drouin

Trudi Lynn Smith

the dead bird