Your intrepid blogger recently went on an arduous tour, all for the sake of art (and getting to wear a goofy headlamp and hard hat). Actually, this “arduous” tour was around the Lamar Dodd School of Art, where I am a graduate student, and so, to me, a place that has become the most mundane of surroundings. That is exactly the kind of blasé attitude filmmaker and visual artist Keith Wilson wanted to counter on his Cave and Mountain tour. In 2009, Wilson began doing an ongoing interactive performance he calls the Cave and Mountain Tour, and as a Visiting Artist here, he recently led an interpretive tour around the art school.
To be clear, the art school does not consist of caves or mountains as I normally think of them. Wilson told our group at the beginning of the tour that there is no universally agreed on definitions of a cave or a mountain, however. And so, having signed a waiver and put on a hard hat and light source, the 15 of us were off, stopping by caves (auditoriums), mountains (flights of stairs), not to mention unknown rain rooms and river gardens. Wilson gave us a tour-guide spiel throughout that toed the line of boring (when the school was founded) and unbelievable (unmarked graves).
The difficulty in judging fact and fiction certainly made the experience interesting, but more than that Wilson took the group through unused areas and gave new (if untrue) meaning to old sites, inspiring an interest in the quotidian. His command to walk in silence at many points forced you to really look and notice surroundings that I, at least, usually am too absorbed in my own thoughts to notice. Highlights of this tour were a “rain room” where continuous pounding of dripping water made a wonderful sound (actually a part of the cooling system) and the attic of the building with all its mechanical apparatus. Despite being half-fictional, this tour gave me a renewed interest in my surroundings–surely something we could all try to incorporate into our lives.