Yesterday was the opening to “Fleeting Captivities”. A two artist show being exhibited at Space 4 Art. Asmita Duranjaya, the owner of the Space, had invited Lilia Artis and myself to do an installation together. Asmita asked us to build in two of her domed galleries. Each gallery’s walls were decorated in the bright palette of our hostess, and that gave me the incentive to try to fit within her parameters of color and glow. That was fun, and a new stretch to use so much of it. There was an extra challenge: to complete the whole exhibit within a 50 prim limit each. Lilia and I actually used fewer to our surprise. This means giving prim generator a good shake, and filling in detail with textures. The two of us gave our photoshop programs quite a workout. The opening was thrilling to me, because one of the qualities I cherish about Lilia is her wonderful story telling voice. She read the fable we wrote together in both English, and then German.
Thirza Ember wrote a very cool article about the exhibit in her blog “Arts Parks”. She took some photos that reveal the saturation of the colors. Lilia’s dome contains her marine environment for the octopuses, and my dome shows the enclosure of the monkeys in an urban setting.
On that most unfortunate day when the day and the night collided, both falling backwards into the opposite time zone, there arose for certain diurnal and nocturnal animals a bit of a shock. The octopuses must now hunt in the light, and the monkeys straining to find food in near darkness, collect bananas by moon light. Both creatures’ existences perturbed in such a manner, they wish to get back to where they once were. A passage spans the distance between night and day, and it can be traversed, however a greater problem ensues. There has never been accord between monkeys and octopuses. Their rivalry is bitter. In order for the monkeys to arrive in the day, and the octopuses into the night, they would need to pass each other on the expansive sky bridge. Facing each other at the half way mark on the structure, one monkey and one octopus met. Neither would let the other pass. The monkey found this most annoying since he knew that octopuses can fly very much like a helicopter when they spin their many arms around. “Octopus, why can’t you just fly over to the night, so we monkeys can walk on the bridge?” The octopus responded that the bridge is equally for the octopuses, and for this reason, the monkeys cannot take sole possession of it. Very angered by this, the monkey yelled “stupid octopus! Take this!” and the creature bit one of the octopus’s arms. Shrieking, the octopus snapped one of his other arms to whip the monkey’s behind which resulted in a scream of pain. They both hurried back to their camps to tell their own inflated versions of the story. And so, war became inevitable. But the monkeys always felt so tired by the constant night, and the octopuses were exhausted by the ever present daytime. No one had the energy for war. So they both waited a very long time. No one used the span that linked night and day. Of course one day it had to happen, all architectural constructions need maintenance, and this one received none. So, the ropes started weakening, plats loosened, and some of them tumbled down through the infinite space below. Both monkeys and octopuses realized that soon, with the bridge gone, neither would be able to visit their days and nights. And so it was, the days rolled on for the octopuses, and the nights rolled on for the monkeys.
The yearning grew. One monkey braved the bridge. He recognized the importance of diplomacy and walked cautiously along the creaking structure. On reaching the other side, he extended a friendly upturned hand, and let it come gently to the ground in a gesture for an octopus to rest upon it. One octopus swam forward, aware of the mammal’s humble gesture, and lay in the monkey’s hand. “I will carry you to the night” he said. He brought her up into his arms, and turned to walk back across the bridge. Everyone on both sides of the bridge watched in awe, as the two ambassadors negotiated the dangerous bridge. It swayed, it creaked, and lost pieces of wood. The broken fragments fell so far, they were soon invisible, and one never heard a crash to ground, for there was none. Both octopus and monkey hearts beat quickly. And still, more wood fell, the rope less sure each moment. Suddenly, over half way across, there came a terrible snapping sound. The rope on one side of the bridge had strummed itself like a broken string on an instrument of gigantic proportion. The bridge swayed violently, throwing large amounts of planks into oblivion. The other ropes could no longer tolerate this jarring, and they too gave way, snapping in painful whips against the two defenseless beasts. All observers watched in horror, as this long expanse of bridge took an elegant twisted dive in slow motion. Its enormous body turned in graceful hair-like descent thru the air; a work of calligraphy, becoming ever smaller and fine with distance, while the monkey and octopus were merely dots fading quickly from the sky’s blank page.
Each creature watched in silent shock. Not a sound. All was empty. All was lost. Then, from far below, they saw a new shape rising. It was the monkey riding on the back of the straining octopus, swimming higher and higher in the air regardless of three of her wounded arms. She swam everywhere carrying her simian passenger, from night to day, and day to night. The air was filled with howls and bubbly marine enthusiasm. As if a gun had signaled the beginning of a race, the octopuses unanimously swam to the monkeys’ night, but not to relish in the darkness, rather, to offer the monkeys a ride on their backs to the daytime. It was a most beautiful flock that swam across the sky, thick with populace like migrating birds, and charged in newfound companionship. The octopuses and monkeys never rebuilt the bridge, for they came to cherish their partnership.
But it’s not the way of Nature to settle in one place for long, no matter how well balanced it may be. There is in the animal kingdom, a creature capable of great cruelty. A descendant of the monkey, this being called human, has histories brimming with enslavement and avarice. And so it was, that a band of humans came into the forest to capture hundreds of monkeys, and deep into the sea to capture hundreds of octopuses. The tension between octopuses and monkeys was popular folklore. And though it was no longer based on truth, legends have no intention of dying. The organizers arranged for this circus, having placed the marine creatures in a giant aquarium within view of a large enclosure of the monkeys. What a violent spectacle it would create, so they thought. It was an unwelcome outcome, as the captives showed not a trace of animosity toward the other, so the humans tried to incite them by tapping the aquarium glass in torturous rhythms, and scaring the monkeys by throwing rocks in their direction. While the creatures reacted to the stress, their animosity was directed toward the humans, not toward their fellow prisoners.
The authorities had built large drains to the sewer lines in order to keep the circus clean, for as all humans know, animals are filthy. The circus staff refused to enter the enclosures to clean, since it appeared to them that the creatures were dangerous and unpredictable. So, in both cases, huge amounts of water were dumped onto the enclosures to simply wash all surfaces with a flush. They knew the monkeys would never venture down into the sewer since they can’t swim, and the octopuses would never get too close to the drains for fear of washing away. This practice continued for some time, before a daring octopus allowed herself to wash down the drain. She swam in many directions, and nearly became lost in the maze of huge pipes extending all through the city. But having an excellent sense of space, she found her way around, and returned to tell the other octopuses what she had discovered. They were ecstatic, and began dancing for joy. The human observers misinterpreted this, and believed the thousands of waving arms to be a sign of hostility. An authority said “Finally, a good show of anger toward the monkeys! Let’s put on a spectacle tonight by dumping some of those dirty primates into the aquarium and watch them fight it out. We can charge triple the entry fee for such a show!” While the humans began arrangements, the octopus swam back down the sewer pipes to the drain opening of the monkey prison, and whispered to one of them who was nearby and above the drain. She told him that she had swum via the sewerage, and believed that the water must eventually empty into the sea. “Tell the other monkeys that tonight we flee, that all monkeys shall ride on our backs to the coast”. The octopus only hoped there might be an issue to the sea.
A crowd of people began to gather for the big night event. Tickets were sold out. Before opening the doors to the park, the authorities decided to wash the animals’ compartments prior to the show for a sparkling presentation. Flooding both the aquarium and the monkey enclosure with extra large doses of water, the animals this time allowed their bodies to flow with the water without any resistance, and down they went, every one of them, through the drain into the open sewerage. The octopuses lost not a second in swimming to find each monkey, and support them so that their heads were above the quick twirling currents in the pipes. Around they went in dizzying paths, but at a liberating distance from their prison. Unsure where the waters would carry them, each creature hoped for the sea.