There is Here

Collin Asmus
Anderson Gallery
January 22- February 21, 2020

Collin Asmus

Collin Asmus
There is Here
Years ago, while walking to the Art Building, I noticed an exterior window I had not seen before. Once I noticed this, I could not get it out of my mind. I searched every nook and cranny of the building until I found this mystery room. I felt like Indiana Jones discovering a secret chamber full of treasure and history. I wondered how I could spend so many years in this building and never know this existed. I kept this discovery to myself for a long time, only gradually confiding in others to share my experience.

The room is large and very, very dusty. It is difficult to access, but that makes being there much more rewarding. The room smells like dry dirt and dead leaves. This smell is strong and quickly spreads to your mouth to create a permeating olfactory sensation. Itchy eyes and coughing become inevitable. The ceiling is vaulted and its wood rafters are exposed, as is the red brick on the walls. The room is nearly empty, except for the decades of accumulated dust and a few long-forgotten items. For some reason there is a hand-painted sign marking a location to register for something. I have no idea why this sign is here or why there are two filthy throw rugs crumpled on the floor. At one end of the room there is a very large door, but it cannot be opened more than a few inches. At the other, there are two small vertical windows placed high on the wall so that only the sky is visible. It is totally fitting for this building that the light streaming through these windows makes me feel like I have entered a Caravaggio painting. In the middle of the room, but off to one side, a steel wheel sprouts from the floor. It’s the sort of wheel I imagine opens a hatch on a submarine, but this one doesn’t seem to do anything. Much like this room, it’s existence and purpose are a mystery.

This video installation broadcasts a 300┬║ live view of this building’s secret room. It not only makes visible a space we are not allowed to otherwise see, but also raises questions about what we believe we know about our surroundings. ┬áMoreover, this work exploits our ability to accept the virtual experience as a substitute for reality.