Anna Valentina Murch

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"Voyages"
1987

Voyages, a site-specific installation, was created for the museum space. It leads the viewer on a sensory and psychological journey. The experience measured time, triggered memory, and provoked an unconscious as well as conscious response to the atmosphere of the space. I asked the viewer to look, feel and think, to enter into my world and find their own.

You enter the installation between the columns of the Lounge area. This becomes the gray "Waiting Room," for you cannot proceed through to the brightly lit rotunda because your way is barred by a large pair of portcullis-like "Lock Gates" at the entrance. This heavy grid, covered with weathered, salt-encrusted lead, frames a sheer steel screen that you can see through as if in a dream, a haze of overlapping shadow.

Because this route is blocked the participants wander in the waiting room, walking past reflected fragments of themselves in the corners edged with mirror, and come upon the open doorways. As one moves towards the entrance one glimpses one’s reflection in the fine line of mirror acting as a frame of light to delineate the entrance to another zone.

On the right, the luminous silver wedge-shaped door flanks the entrance to the brightly lit octagonal room. You walk over a weathered cedar bridge that crosses a white moat of rushing water circulating around the perimeter of the octagon. Light streams into the room from a silver window of concentric octagonal frames. Extroverts and performers playfully walk across the stones watching their shadows obscure the reflected light patterns from the water and orchestrating the level of sound from their footsteps. Others, aware of the space they take up in the brightness of light and sound, prefer to be motionless, sensing it as a place for contemplation.

Upon leaving the light room one can look across to the wrought copper door of the darker room. You walk over the lead threshold onto red lava. As one’s eyes adjust and one walks towards the burnt well full of red earth, the green edge of glass forms octagonal barriers increasing in height from center to rim, like ripples expanding from the center drop. The sense of infinity is seen in the reflections in the black octagonal sides. During the course of the installation waterdrops, like liquid fire, count the passage of time. People sometimes felt threatened as they entered, but then were filled with a sense of warmth and comfort as they watched the ripples and reflections on the ceiling and glimpsed the water dropping like falling thoughts.

"...her success comes from the power of suggestion. The whole, which it takes us time to appreciate, is far more than the sum of the parts. These Voyages require contemplation and speculation; each of us must provide our own words and music, and for each they will be different but they will come...
...what Murch has actually made can be classified as sculpture, but really this is poetry in four dimensions..."

David H. Wright in the Berkeley Monthly