Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Failure and Success at Hearst Castle

Let's go back in time to a post from June 2010 in which I stated that there was one pool I would do almost anything to float a cake. The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle is the epitome of excess and therefore, most desirable to obtain in some form or another.

For months, I wondered if I could collect a clear water sample but in November, I learned the pool was drained. That dashed my hopes and I set my sights on the indoor Roman Pool. I try very hard not to break any rules or trespass with the Stalking Artist series and that philosophy was important here. The Hearst Castle website has a long list of tour rules and the one that required the most navigation was this:

11. Fountains & Pools
The fountains and pools are part of the historic elements of the estate and visitors are not permitted to contact the water by wading, jumping or placing any part of their body into the pools or fountains.

A week before, while visiting the Museum of Jurassic Technology, I bought a string (part of the string exhibition to be used to practice Cats Cradle, etc.). I tied it around a clear water sample and practiced in the Madonna Inn jacuzzi. It worked perfectly in terms of dropping in smoothly and filling quickly. 

What follows are photographs outlining the anatomy of failure - not only was the pool drained, it was full of dirt and scaffolding. It looked awful (and it was raining when I took the photographs).

What lies below is how fear and trepidation turned into panic and ultimate success (what a surprise).

I remember visiting this pool c. 2003 but I had forgotten that the iron gate to keep people at bay was 2-3 feet away from the water. There were several dozen tourists and a couple guides in the room and only a couple faced me. I threw the specimen bottle into the water and to my horror, it did not fall in smoothly like the practice run. It floated on top of the surface. I nearly panicked but pulled it up and tossed it in again, trying hard to ignore the fact that the water was no longer smooth and noticeably rippling. I yanked it out of the pool the moment it filled, taking care not to let it crash on the iron gate. Shockingly, I was not caught (and to this day, I still wonder how). I don't think I broke the rules as my body did not touch the water but I am sure that would be debatable.

Moments later, I photographed my most difficult to obtain water sample (and therefore the most coveted) on the bus ride back to the entry. There is no documentation of this event except perhaps on one man's camera who was photographing in my direction from the other side. This exists as a story that someone might believe - therefore it is the first piece I have begun to work on since my return to Muncie earlier this month.

Second choice isn't a bad replacement. I may use the "failure" photographs to construct an artwork that documents this story. I love it when ideas strike while writing blog posts.

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