Hypnagogic

by: Christopher Rockwell

A feverish odyssey into the surreal, without physically traveling anywhere…

Yayoi Kusama is an avant-garde sculptor, painter and novelist.

It begins deceivingly subtle. And eventually peaks in the form of a dizzying crescendo.

The air slowly begins to be sucked out of the room with an echoing “whhhhssssssspppp,” which is replaced with the overpowering roar of fabric being torn. Within seconds, I cannot feel my heart beating, nor am I sure if I am breathing, yet I am free from panic, as my body is taken by a feeling that is simultaneously arousing and tranquilizing.

Suddenly, a trembling sensation of movement washes over my body as if I were being propelled by a jet engine. My vision grows cloudy.

An ascending tone vibrates in perfect resonance with my body which finally becomes completely obscured by an alleviating voice.

She welcomes me, seductress that she is. That is her job after all, her role in all of this. She lets me know I am not alone, and that all is how it should be. I am supposed to feel this way. I am meant to experience these feelings, and behold these visions. This is why I came here.

All the while I can hear him pattering about. His feet shuffling at an unbelievable pace, a worker bee at work. The builder, busy designing and constructing all I see before me. He doesn’t have a moment to spare as there is much work to be done, and little time to do it.

The structure he has built, was building, is massive in nature and growing by the second. It has the shape and openness of a greenhouse but the grandeur of a towering cathedral. Every inch of the shifting geometric edifice is permeating with migrating and ever-changing colored designs, combining both Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. The builder had been inspired by Gaudi, it appears, or possibly vice verse – much more likely. He does not speak a language it seems, but he is easily understood. And he has much to share. So very much to show me.

“This is exactly what they said it would look like,” I say to myself. A total fracture of the banal plane.

Things were changing rapidly, a continuous segue. The pitter-patter of the builder’s feet echo from far away, and then shuffle instantaneously overhead. Doors open and slam shut just as fast. The walls begin to close in around me, but with no intention of harm. Rather the intent is to display their capabilities. They pulsate with colors; some I am immediately familiar with yet most are foreign in nature, an exotic blend.

The more I try to understand the dimensions and nature of the construction the more it became clear that truly comprehending the scope of the builder’s work is beyond the bounds of possibility.  There are no limits in this room, and the makeup of this realm is a repetitive pattern into infinity1.

The builder continues to work, and his talent is not limited to structures alone. He presents objects that can be held and examined. The objects he shares spontaneously alter into other objects, an awesome display of geometry paired with a complex light-show of varying intensities, along the entire wavelength spectrum.

The all encompassing feeling quickly begins to fade away. I immediately yearn for its return, attempting to hold onto the feelings and the visions to no avail.

I open my eyes, as I am finally capable to perform this simple task, but my body is still in the midst of full paralysis. My mind free, yet the remainder of my being still fully under the spell. Everything appears exactly how it was. I close my eyes and immediately hear a soft spoken voice, neither male nor female – but both – which says ”We are still here.” It wasn’t a threat. It was a gentle reminder.

I open my eyes again.

Their grip on me fully relinquished.

  1. Header art is by the extremely talented avant-garde sculptor, painter and novelist, Yayoi Kusama. []
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