You are damp, cold, and huddled in a dark narrow shaft. A faint whiff of incense only partly masks a lingering rot. Cryptic drawings and diagrams cover the walls and a monotonous drumbeat repeats persistently from invisible speakers. Above it all is THE VOICE– deep, drawling, robotic, and curious. “Are you distracted?” it asks, “Are you all stuffed up?”
Only hours before, to escape a strengthening rain squall, you duck into a well lit storefront in New York City’s art gallery district. Lulled in with a strange feeling of familiarity, you at once observe a series of six large collages affixed to white paper in sleek black frames. A close inspection of the collages reveals a complex topography of edges and layers permeated by enigmatic words and transparent images of things like airport body scans, ghosts, and tapeworms. The outline of each collage is in the form of two overlapping circles like a MasterCard logo. Thinking about credit cards puts you further at ease, and you consider, “could I use my Visa to buy one of these?”
With this thought still lingering you notice a narrow corrider and follow it past offices, bookshelves, and attractive young people talking on phones. You enter the next room and hear a single faint high-pitched tone. Around you are three large sculptures, a framed collage, and little scraps of paper in piles on the floor. The sculptures are painted plywood spirals and helixes, shaped like oversized drill bits, DNA models, and djembe drums. Each wooden structure is lifted off the ground by rectilinear aluminum pedestals painted in modernist blue, red, yellow, and black.
While inspecting the mysterious text carved obsessively into all the dark surfaces of these sculptures, you hear, for the first time, THE VOICE.
“How many are you?” it asks, amplified and echoing.
You answer slowly to the empty room, “One.”
“How did you get here?” it asks.
“I passed through the corridor,” you reply.
“Are you hungry? Would you like some food stamps?”
“Are you wealthy? Are you a doctor?”
“There’s a woman in here her name is Sasha, she’s from Russia.”
You notice a scratching sound coming from a tiny slot in the wall and watch a small piece of paper fall to the floor. Picking it up, you read: What’s the one thing you would change about where you live? You quickly scrawl a reply with an available pencil and slide the note back through the wall. The voice booms again, “Do you often think about sex? Are you angry?”
Before you can reply another piece of paper falls from a different spot in the wall, it says: There’s a crime being committed right now, look. You glance around nervously, as THE VOICE asks, “Would you like to join us?”
You pause before answering, then reply, “Yes.”
Moments later a wall panel shifts to form a narrow opening. You enter the next room.