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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Leo Berk’s Bribe

posted by on August 20 at 11:00 AM

Leo Berk’s Dark House (2008), drawing in sparkly pen [photographed by Mark Woods]

On the morning of September 12, 2001, as the United States descended into a pit of disbelief, Seattle artist Leo Saul Berk happened to be in Guatemala, descending into an ancient Mayan cave. Tourists aren’t allowed in, but Berk and some others bribed the guards, who then conducted the tour of the dark, totally disorienting place—a place Berk was unable to get out of his head afterward.

Now it’s finally come out of his head, and into the Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University. The above drawing is one of three complex perspectives of the cave that Berk created this year, two drawn and one sculpted. He describes what it was like down there:

To listen to the entire In/Visible podcast with Berk, click here.

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it's a really gorgeous piece. i could sit in the gallery with it for hours.

Posted by joey | August 20, 2008 12:29 PM

I wish I could listen to the podcast. Mayan cave systems are fascinating. There are hundreds if not thousands of miles of them (not man-made; they're voids in the Yucatan limestone). There's a really scary map of the underwater cave system at Gran Cenote near Playa Del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico, showing how several of them connect together. People die down there all the time, diving. Having a walkable one must be fascinating.

Posted by Fnarf | August 20, 2008 1:02 PM

I wish I could figure out some kind of LIDAR-like system for mapping caves. The problem with LIDAR is it's line-of-sight only, and so you'd have to physically move the device in line with every nook and cranny to get a complete map. That, and I think LIDAR uses GPS for locating the device, which obviously wouldn't work in a cave.

Man! This is hard.

Posted by Greg | August 20, 2008 4:06 PM

Greg, you need to strap your doohickey onto a bat and let it do the mapping for you.

Posted by Fnarf | August 20, 2008 4:25 PM

The problem is, it weighs about half a ton. Easy to strap on a rocket, but not so easy to strap on a backpack or a bat.

Posted by Greg | August 20, 2008 4:55 PM

And of course, by 'rocket' I mean 'airplane or helicopter.' I r dumb.

Posted by Greg | August 20, 2008 4:56 PM

another illegal caving system closer by is Hell Hole, Santa Cruz.

Posted by TAR ART RAT | August 22, 2008 7:05 AM

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