12 November 2009
You are standing in an unreality, aware of the artificial context. The projection equipment hovers high above your head, humming a murmur of white noise, the carpet dulls the footfalls of other viewers. Most people do not venture far past the doorway. Those who linger cling to the wall nearest the entrance, the only wall without projected images. No one moves beyond the middle of the room, unwilling to cross some invisible threshold. Moving deeper into the space would prevent a quick escape back to reality.
You become acclimated to the darkness, but you still hold your breath. Projected on the three surrounding walls of the gallery are factory windows. They are far above eye-level: imperfect luminous grids. You notice the clouds moving out the windows, the stage is being set. The longer you linger the more you forget the unreality. The white noise of the projectors is replaced by the white noise of a city you cannot see; city that exists beyond the windows. A vague, unspecific city. You hear children playing, adults conversing in Arabic, voices moving past the windows.
In your peripheral vision you see the ghostly silhouette of a helicopter. Your body involuntarily tenses, waiting. The dull mechanical beast looms closer to the windows, and moves away. Towards the opposite corner you hear a military vehicle approach and the sound of American soldiers trying to move the children out of the street. Your apprehension grows. And without warning, a shot rings out. The projected window breaks and your adrenaline surges. The shooting escalates to chaos. You have the urge to duck for safety or to flee. But part of you still knows it isn’t real, so you remain. You remain to see the story play out, because the spell is now broken. You know those bullets will never find you, you are safe. Safe and detached. You can leave. But you leave unsettled, with the haunting question of what if?
What if it was real?