HEADLANDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS, SAUSALITO, CALIFORNIA 1990
MATRIX, UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, 1991, CATALOG
ARTISTS SPACE, NEW YORK, 1992, CATALOG
LANG ART GALLERY, SCRIPPS COLLEGE, CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA, 1993, CATALOG
The Language of Paradise is the first of three installations dealing with stories of the Cahuilla creation myth. This work is set in a room where the color has been altered by indigo theatrical gels mounted in skylights. There are three “stations” located in this room, a desk, a projection and an oscilloscope.
On the desk is an anthropological text, a translation from audio tape of the Cahuilla creation myth; a story of darkness and two brothers, Múkat and Témayawet who create the world. Their concerns for the world differ. Their subsequent argument sets the stage for the invention of humanity, death, dance and sorrow. A small video monitor plays one minute sequences of video tape taken from Palm Canyon, near Palm Springs, California, the home of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla people. Other materials include maps and archaelogical surveys from the region. Inside the desk are drawers filled with earth.
On the floor in the center of the space is a programmed slide projection of a Cahuilla basket, resembling a spiral galaxy. It turns slowly, animated by the glowing and fading projectors, like the minute hands of a clock.
At the back of the space is a pedestal that houses the electronic equipment that controls the sound and slide projectors. The sound radiates from speakers located on the ceiling. The voice of a Cahuilla Bird Singer resound in the space; the voice recorded originally on wax cylinders in 1918. This sound creates an electric current through the speaker cables; this signal is translated by an oscilloscope into a dancing green line, alternately appearing as a mouth, a landscape and a snake.
The work serves as an illuminated manuscript of the images of this myth that continues to live with the Cahuilla people.